Beans and Rating: See Below
Roaster: Coffees of Hawaii
Not too long ago, I reported on some coffee from Kauai that was a little bit less than impressive considering the hype that Hawaiian Kona coffee usually garners. It seems like the biggest culprit for that coffee’s quality is elevation. Kona coffee is typically grown at higher elevations while the coffee I reviewed from Kauai is grown near sea level. After reading that review, the folks from Coffees from Hawaii contacted me to let me know about their coffees which are predominately from Moloka’i, yet another coffee growing region in Hawaii. Fortunately, their coffee is grown at altitudes similar to most Konas and therefore promised to be better than the coffee from Kauai.
I received 5, 2 oz. bags (of 5 different coffees) – freshly roasted just a few days before – which put me through a more rugged tasting regime than I’m used to – more coffees with fewer opportunities to try each one. I decided to cup each, brew each one in French Press and pull each as a shot of espresso. I did have a little fun interlude harnessing all that jungle energy into a creative playscape with my daughter, but mostly strove to be as professional as possible. Hopefully, I’ve been able to capture these coffees accurately. Here are my notes from favorite to least favorite.
- Malulani Estate, 100% Moloka’i, Medium Roast, Swiss Water Decaffeinated (3+): Oddly enough, the decaf was my favorite. I suppose this is due to it being lined up against some respectable, but not stellar, regular coffees, and my low expectations for decaf coffees these days. The coffee is a medium roast and, as anticipated, did not work well as an espresso – far too sour – but It did make an excellent cup of French Pressed coffee. It was sweet with the pungency of light brown sugar and was almost a little woody, like moist bark. It had a noticeable brightness – pomegranate – that reminded me of a gentle, washed, central American coffee. I don’t drink decaf in the morning, but if I did, this would be a strong candidate. It also works well after a lighter meal at night.
- 100% Moloka’i Muleskinner, Dark Roast (3-): This coffee worked well prepared as espresso or French Pressed. I liked the hit of sweet, apple and lime that greeted me, followed by some bitter cocoa and dry, Sumatra-like green bell pepper notes that really came out in the espresso. This coffee had a thick mouthfeel that was starchy rather than syrupy, which was unusual but not unpleasant. The roast seemed lighter than the “dark” roast descriptor given to it, but was still a bit more roasty (i.e. bad smokey) than I tend to prefer.
- 100% Moloka’i Espresso, Dark Roast (2+): I was going to give the espresso a slightly higher rating for a very nice sweet, roasted banana quality that came through as both an espresso and French Press, but within a couple of days, the coffee turned overly roasty tasting. The mouthfeel was lightly syrupy but surprisingly clean for an espresso, especially given the otherwise rich and dark profile.
- 100% Kona Nightingale, Dark Roast (2+): The Kona was fairly mediocre coffee, probably because of the darker roast. I found it to be a full-bodied coffee with notes of mild chocolate and very subdued fruit, although I also noted a slightly pungent, vegetal quality that never quite reconciled with my senses. Overall, this coffee was super mellow, whether as espresso or French Press, and I suppose it’s this rock-solid steadiness that people typically enjoy in Kona coffees.
- Malulani Estate 100% Moloka’i, Medium Roast (2-): I somehow figured I’d like this coffee the most because of it was the lightest caffeinated coffee of the bunch. Oddly enough, I ended up liking it the least. The ground coffee was very sweet and fruity smelling with lots of pear, chocolate and even some fresh spinach, but these qualities didn’t seem to hold up well when brewed either as espresso or French Press. The coffee came across as too smokey/roasty and yet very mild and somewhat thin-bodied.