Just as with wines, there is also a real connoisseur level to coffee. Undoubtedly one of the most unique, gourmet coffees of the world comes from Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii.
There just has not been enough correct and detailed information available to the average Joe to better & fully understand the differences between all of the coffees labeled as Kona, and therefore appreciate how special (or not) some of these can be.
For example, there are many restaurants & retail venues who serve & sell Kona Coffee regularly. For the coffee purists, however, this is quite a controversial issue & ambiguity, especially on what percent of these coffees are actually grown & produced in Kona itself. We will however leave that topic & debate to those involved.
We instead intend to focus on the small, artisan, single estate coffees grown & produced in and around Kona. Many of these can be found on the website www.konacoffeefarmers.com.
One in particular which deserves more attention is the Harens Old Tree Estate.
This 5.4 acre farm is located on the volcanic slopes of Honaunau, Mauka, at somewhere between 1300 to 1500 feet elevation. All the Harens Old Tree Estate coffee is from this single estate, where over 80% of coffee trees are 100 years old and still happy and producing an extraordinary bean. All beans are hand picked, than milled, sun-dried, aged, green milled, roasted and bagged on the estate.
This coffee is then aged for at least 5 months before it is roasted, so that all the flavor components & character come together, just as a winemaker would do for a great wine.
Only Full City / Medium dark roast is offered for this estate, as it maximizes the rich flavors, outstanding aroma and delicate acidity. It also compliments both the Origin Character (of the bean from this particular estate) and the character added via the roasting process, which is the same theory as the grape & soil nuances of a wine coupled with the winemaking & oak character.
The bottom line? This is a true Kona born & raised coffee of superb, world-class quality. It will of course be higher in price, and deservedly so, when one truly understands what it takes to make such a treasure.
Over all the years of my involvement in the wine field, two of the most prolific wine importers for me have been Kermit Lynch and Rudi Wiest. Kermit specialized in boutique, artisan, soulful French “country” wines who capture regional character, soulfulness & culture in their wines. Rudi does virtually the same thing with a selected group of German estates. In my opinion, this single estate Kona coffee is along the same lines
More of such estates can be found on the Kona Coffee Farmers website and there are also coffees being grown on Kauai, Waialua, Oahu & even Molokai you might want to check out.
Lastly, in these challenging times, why not “support local and buy local”, especially when it is good!