Tasting Hawaii: Notes on our 2016/17 line of Hawaiian coffees
A FRESH TASTE OF HAWAII: Notes on our 2016/17 harvest selection
After the harvest season our roastery is brimming with coffees from all corners of Hawaii, but none we can use right away. The beans need a few weeks to "relax" and allow their acids to settle. With the right amount of rest, the acids will soften, the coffee will sweeten, and flavors of origin become clear.
And now, it'stime. 100% of our Hawaiian coffees are at their freshest and prime for enjoying.
Each season we taste several dozen lots to select the best coffees we've cupped from that region, that year. And this year we thought you'd enjoy knowing the background of each coffee we're offering.
Of the dozen Ka'u coffees we cupped this year (so far), three stood out for their sweetness. One of the lots we set aside as a single origin feature for our coffee club. The other two - one from Wood Valley and the other from Cloud's Rest - we've blended together to create our beloved Ka'u coffee, Morning Glory. Though their strengths are different, they compliment each other nicely. Both are notable on the cupping table for their long, candied sweet finish, coating the teeth and sides of the tongue. Both farmers are excellent and attentive, getting regular soil analysis' and transitioning to no-spray. The farmer from Wood Valley had been selling his coffee cherry to a local mill, but gave it up due to low prices and instability in the coffee cherry market. And for the level of attention he pays to good harvest practices, it's a shame his coffee was blended with inferior lots. So we're pleased to purchase his parchment (raw coffee) and consult with him as needed as he transitions from selling coffee cherry to processing it down to parchment. Tasting notes: Pecan, caramel, and butter, with juicy elements of apricot, orange, and vanilla. A long, sweet finish.
This year we decided to do something we've never done before: make several hundred pounds of Natural (un-washed) coffee. Many of you have already tasted it and we've had several "best coffee ever!"-like comments so far. That's the good news. On the flip side, our washed Puna Kazumura is on the small side this year, and we'll probably be sold out by August.
In this drone view (< click that, it's very cool) you'll see a big pile of coffee trimmings in the center row. Just after the harvest this year we did a massive pruning and trimmed down most of the trees to less than half their previous size. Coffee trees are actually shrubs and they're very resilient. Pruning keeps them healthy and vigorous. The downside of this style of pruning is that we won't have much Puna Kazumura, Puna Natural or Honeyed Yellow Caturra coffee next year either. The upside is that in the next 3-5 years the trees will produce heavier, better quality coffee on new wood. So it's a good time to
Our Hamakua Stout Heart Dark lot comes from a polyculture farmer we've been working closely with for four years now. We've helped with identifying his trees, adjusting his pulper, sending him harvesters, and emailing him photos of defects and their causes (what notto do). Initially, he was selling his coffee to a "farmer" in Kona who was undoubtedly counterfeiting it as Kona (it happens a lot), but, fortunately, over the past two years we've purchased 90% of his lot, and every year it seems to improve. This year we've also purchased Hamakua coffee from two other farms (which is notable, because there aren't many farms in that region) to showcase in our coffee club.
Our Kona Extra Fancy is coming from the same place as always, and the farmer needs no assistance - he's spot on! Maybe it's just in our heads but this year it's tasting better than ever, so he'll remain as our single origin Kona coffee for the foreseeable future.
We have had the pleasure of tasting at least five other excellent Kona coffees this year. Two will be sent to our coffee club later in the year (a Kona Peaberry, and a fruity, high elevation organic Kona coffee from an ex-comedian-turned-farmer in his second year), and another - a Kona Prime grade - we plan to use in a swanky new espresso blend we've been planning.
Our Maui coffees are also in a great spot: Maui Mokka and Maui Mellow. You may remember that Maui Mokka tied for 1st place in the Hawaii State Cupping Competition in 2014. Ever since then, Maui Mokka has been one of our most popular, consistent, elegant coffees. (Coming this summer: Mokka Peaberry).
We brought on a new Maui coffee recently: Maui Mellow. It's comprised of a blend of washed and natural Maui Yellow Caturra from Ka'anapali, which provides a nice balance of acidity and slight fruit character to these typically mellow coffees. We've found our roast level and blend works equally well via drip or espresso.
A 100% Hawaiian blend of four different coffees from three different origins. We consider it an omni-roast, meaning it's suitable for espresso, french press, Moka Pot, and Aeropress. It's roasted to highlight the mouthfeel and subdue the acids so, if those are the traits you like in your coffees, give it a try using your favorite brewing method.
- UPCOMING COFFEES -
Some of these will appear only within the Wild Coffee Lovers Club, and others will be released publicly: Maui Mokka Peaberry, Half Mile High Kona XF and Kona Peaberry, Aloha Cordial blend (a swanky 100% Hawaiian blend of fruity naturals, peaberries and Kona coffee), Darkwood and more.