Until recently, when I thought Hawaiian coffee the two coffees that
came to mind are Kona [sometimes very good, always over priced] and
Kauai [also overpriced and often not good].
For those who are not geographers; the Big Island of Hawaii is all one
county [Hawaii county] but is subdivided into smaller political
districts including the North and South Kona districts. The Kona
coffee growers have some legal protection that coffee sold as Kona
must be grown in either the North or South Kona district.
This Spring, having not purchased a plane ticket yet this Millenium, I
decided to treat myself to a trip to the Big Island. I spent most of
the Month of March there with no preplanned agenda. I of course took
some homeroast with me. [I can imagine Mike McK thinking "coals to
Newcastle". I did end up drinking a lot of Hawaiian Big Island coffee
[all of it received as gifts] but not a drop of Kona. One of the
acquaintances I made while there was that of an older retired
gentleman who proved to be a fellow coffee afficianado. He has a
second home in the Ka'u district which lies to the South of the North
and South Kona districts. He invited me to come by and see his coffee
grove [hobby size, about 25 trees] and also offered the use of his
home. I did make use of his home for 4-5 nights over the course of
the Month. On one of those occasions he arranged for one of his
neighbors who has a 3000 tree operation as well as the local
processing facility for the smaller growers to give me a tour of her
All of the Ka'u district coffee that I drank while there was *very
unlike* what I remember the Kona flavor profile to be. These Ka'u
coffees had less brightness and more body than what I remember of the
Konas I've had [though it has been years since I have had any Kona].
They seemed more like Indonesians. I determined to buy some Ka'u
greens and left some money with my new friend to make it happen. For
various reasons it didn't happen before I left for home. Finally a few
weeks ago a box with 7 lbs of Ka'u greens arrived. Visually, my first
impression was that the prep was very poor in terms of defect count.
This is the first coffee I have ever culled defects from prior to
roasting and that includes some of Tom's Puro Scuro which sometimes
can look pretty funky. This proved to be one of those coffees that
took me awhile to decide whether in was unusually good or just
unusual. Finally after four roasts I have decided upon unusally good,
especially for what amounted to a "crap shoot" purchase. It is very
"un-Kona", with moderately low acid and huge body which holds up well
even well into a Vienna roast. Like the coffees that I had while
there, it is somewhat suggestive of Indonesians but somehow different.
So far, I've only brewed it as SO but I suspect that it will be very
good as a blending component which is how I mostly use my Indonesians.
Out of curiosity, I read through Tom's archived coffee reviews and it
appears that he has never stocked a Ka'u coffee. I would surmise this
is likely that this is due to the total coffee production in the Ka'u
district being small relative to the Kona districts.
That's my Hawaiian coffee adventure story. Back to lucking.