Strategies for coffee exploration


POSTED: Wednesday, June 24, 2009

To start exploring local coffees, here are taste profiles and farms to look for. I encourage coffee lovers to try new farmers and roasters—you'll be amazed by what you discover.

Don't be dismayed if you don't taste what I taste here. Every batch of coffee is not necessarily identical, and each person brings their own perspectives and physiology to bear on their experiences. At the end of the day, we may just taste differently.

Earthy and/or chocolatey

Earthy, used positively, refers to the taste of wildness or the untamed outdoors. Chocolatey refers to a sense of cocoa rather than the dominant flavor of a chocolate bar. For this experience, try:

» Medium roasted Poipu Estate from Kauai Coffee Co. (www.kauaicoffee.com; Eleele, Kauai)

» Mokka from MauiGrown Coffee (www.mauigrowncoffee.com; Kaanapali, Maui)

» Maliko Estate coffee (www.malikoestatecoffee.com; Kula, Maui)

Citrus, cherry or berry

In Hawaii, coffees with a pronounced acidity tend to have a lemon or lime character to them. The cherry flavor is subtle, sometimes more like the cherry in a hard candy, whereas the berry flavor is more like fresh fruit. For these flavors, try:

» Malia Ohana from The Kona Coffee and Tea Co. (www.konacoffeeandtea.com; Kona, Hawaii)

» Fancy Kona Coffee from Hula Daddy (www.huladaddy.com; Kona, Hawaii)

» Rusty's Hawaiian Coffee (www.rustyshawaiian.com; Kau, Hawaii).

Nutty and fruity

Dry-processed coffees in Hawaii tend to have a toasted-nut flavor and/or a sweet-fruit component. Since these coffees are variable in their flavor, it's difficult to predict exactly what they will taste like from year to year. For these flavors, try:

» Waialua Estate coffee (www.waialuaestate.com; Waialua, Oahu)

» Coffees of Hawaii's Muleskinner (www.coffeesofhawaii.com, Kualapuu, Molokai)

Shawn Steiman is a coffee scientist and consultant. He owns Coffea Consulting and is the author of “;The Hawaii Coffee Book: A Gourmet's Guide from Kona to Kauai”; (Watermark Publishing).