Sometimes dreams do come true
A Review of 100% Ka'u Coffee by Rusty's Hawaiian
Posted on 3/16/2016 by Chops
The more I delve into Hawaiian coffee, the more it intrigues and perplexes me. At this point I have sampled my way through a few dozen plantations, most of which reside in the world-renowned Kona region. And every time I think I have summited the coffee mountain, another hilltop presents itself. After all, Kona is Hawaii's best coffee, right? Well, yes and no. I recently had my first experience with 100% Ka'u Coffee, grown in a region southwest of Kona. And let me tell you, it's just as mind-blowing, perhaps even more so due to the lack of an international reputation (yet).
The coffee in question comes from Rusty's Hawaiian, a small farm started by Rusty Obra back in 1990s. Rusty had an all-consuming goal: turn Ka'u into a respected coffee region. After his death, his wife Lorie assumed control and continued his vision. They have been producing award-winning coffees ever since. The plantation has single-handedly put Ka'u on the coffee map, despite sitting in the monstrous shadow of Kona. That is one hell of an accomplishment.
So there I was, staring at a freshly brewed cup of Rusty's Ka'u Coffee. Having taken my first few sips, I sat there with a stunned expression, sideswiped by an unexpected deliciousness. I found so much richness and complexity, from woody and floral notes to a light and savory chocolate. Hawaii's rich volcanic soil tends to impart a tropical fruity vibe, often soured, a common trait with Kona. However, this Ka'u version took a hard right turn into veggie territory, providing a type of sweetness that seemed more savory than potent (think yams). The coffee felt super clean on the palate and ended with a long and pleasant finish.
I prepared the coffee using a French press with filtered water 30 seconds off the boil. As I drink my way through the bag, I plan to try variations on prep to see if they have any affects on flavor. I imagine a cone-drip system would provide a much brighter experience, as French pressing allows fine grounds to pass through, boosting the bitter. But even with a French press, the bitterness was negligible at best.
Overall, Rusty's Hawaiian 100% Ka'u Coffee is one of the most distinctive coffees I have ever tasted. This is a brew I could probably pick out of a lineup of the world's best. The character is so unique and satisfying, I cannot imagine it ever becoming predictable. Needless to say, this is a product that I can recommend to any fan of good coffee. I ordered it directly from the farm, but you can also acquire it from Amazon, making it an attractive option for brew fans. And so, when all was said and done, the Ka'u region of Hawaii solidified its place on my delectable coffee radar (as I'm sure it has with countless others). Rusty, my friend, rest well knowing your dream has been realized.