The Money Bean

By Schlatter, Elizabeth | Humanities, May/June 1998 | Go to article overview

The Money Bean


Schlatter, Elizabeth, Humanities


A working coffee farm on Hawai'i captures a segment of history

"Those persons who are in pursuit of wealth would do well to plant coffee, for it is the same as money."

-King Kamehameha

The story of Hawai'i's coffee industry and the role played by newcomers to the island is now told in a living history museum run by the Kona Historical Society.

The museum had been a coffee farm owned by a family named Uchida, who were among the wave of Japanese immigrants arriving in turn-of-the-century Hawai'i to find a better life working on the sugarcane plantations.

For many, life on the plantation was not what they expected. Unhappy with working conditions and their economic prospects, they fled to the remote region of Kona for a new occupation, coffee growing.

The Uchidas owned and operated a coffee farm in Kona from 1913 until 1994, when they sold it to the historical society. "We felt compelled to preserve something of the history and culture that had once dominated the district both culturally and economically, while there were still enough people, material culture, and architecture to do it," project director Sheree Chase says. "If we had waited even ten years it would have been too late."

Coffee had been introduced to Hawai'i in 1825 when Chief Boki, Governor of O'ahu, brought Brazilian coffee plants to his island. Sugarcane was still the major crop, but by the 1850s, with the encouragement of the government, coffee had become the second largest agricultural industry. With its favorable geography, the Kona district of Hawai'i outpaced the others. Protected by the slopes of nearby volcanoes, the region's mild climate and well-drained soil provided fertile land for coffee cultivation. When he visited the region in 1866, Mark Twain wrote in Letters from the Sandwich Islands, "The ride through the district of Kona to Kealakekua Bay took us through the famous coffee and orange section. I think the Kona coffee has a richer flavor than any other, be it grown where it may and call it what you please."

Demand grew, and so did the need for labor. Most of the farms owned by haoles (caucasians) hired native Hawai'ians, but the availability of cheap foreign labor induced farmers to employ Chinese, Portuguese, and Japanese immigrants.

"They, all in the camp, heard so much about Kona," said Yosoto Egami, talking about his father, Kuyutaro Egami, who left his job on a sugar plantation to become a coffee farmer. " . .one thing is they want to get away from plantation because they want to be boss of their own. They don't want to be tied down at the plantation." As large coffee plantations became less profitable, haole planters in Kona divided up their farms and leased the sections to tenant farmers. In 1910 more than four hundred Japanese families lived in Kona and earned their living there. Daisaku Uchida, like Kuyutaro Egami, came to Hawai'i during the turn-of-the-century immigration. He worked on a sugar plantation for three years before moving to Kona, where he held several different jobs, including picking coffee. In 1913 he took over the lease of a coffee farm from a Japanese friend and moved with his bride of a year, Shima Maruo, to the farm. They eventually had five children who grew to adulthood.

The arrival of Japanese women, many who came to Hawai'i as "picture brides," stabilized the Japanese community. Chase says, "Before women arrived in numbers men spent hardearned money on gambling, drinking, and prostitutes. With women came civility, religion, children, community foundation blocks." The wives restored traditional customs and religious practices.

"Large families meant many hands," Chase says. "Children started working as soon as they could walk. Everyone had responsibilities which changed over the years. The average-size family was ten to fourteen people." In order for the children to help with the harvest, schools had a "coffee vacation" from August to November instead of a summer vacation. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Money Bean
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.