Sometimes businesses are planned, sometimes they are meant to be. The latter is the case with the Konaloha Coffee Company. Ruth Koontz and her husband John Koontz have lived in Humboldt County for 22 years. Five years into their relationship, still very much in love, they wanted to see where life would lead them next, professionally and personally.
The pair traveled to Nicaragua, Costa Rica and then to Hawaii. In 2009, they found a property there where they considered building a home and relocating -- a five-acre coffee farm in the famous Kona Coffee Belt region.
"We decided not to live there at that time,” said Ruth Koontz. “It was a small welcoming farm community and we decided to continuing growing coffee. We fell into this business venture. We had not planned it.”
After the first crop, the couple had a lot of coffee beans and decided to roast them and make Christmas gifts for their friends. This led to designing labels for the bags, researching roasting options, and such great feedback on the coffee that they got a business license. They started out by roasting and making orders for fundraisers and special orders, and count their participation in a 2010 fundraiser for the construction of the new northeast tower at St. Joseph Hospital as their first success. Now, their unique 100 percent Kona coffee is available through their website, www.konaloha.com, 16 local retailers such as North Coast Co-op Ray's and Murphy's, and several retailers in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Whole Foods.
The business is family-owned and run by the couple and Ruth Koontz's daughter Jennifer, and the local connection goes beyond just ownership. Muddy Waters roasts their coffee weekly. They partner with businesses such as Drake Glen's Creations that makes Kona coffee chocolates; they are a part of the Go Local campaign, do demos at local stores and Humboldt State University, and donate to various local charities.
Besides selling 100 percent Kona coffee and not a blend, they offer a product that is made from hand-picked beans, is less acidic than other coffees and is pesticide-free.
The owners travel to the farm several times a year to oversee and participate in the farming and to make sure that the latest horticultural practices and sustainable farming principles are followed.
Ruth Koontz attributes their success to the customers. “The credit goes to our dedicated consumers who are very conscientious of buying local and buying a U.S. product.” Ruth Koontz said regardless of the economy, what she focuses on is advice given at a business seminar: “The key to building a business is persistence, persistence, persistence.”
For more information on the Konaloha Coffee Company, call 496-1942 or email email@example.com .
Ruth doing a demo at the Northcoast Coop in Eureka.