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Hawaii Kona - Hula Daddy

January 4, 2010

This coffee was roasted in a PID'd Sirocco "fluid bed" hot air roaster and a specially-controlled Hottop drum roaster and each coffee was cupped blind against various control samples, several times, to verify the results, .

After cupping, it was tasted as a brewed coffee (Technivorm, French press and siphon brewer) and an espresso extraction. For more information on my sample roaster and method, see our reference page.

For this review, I have included all three coffees on the same page since the introduction applies to all three coffees and placing them on the same page makes a comparison between the coffees, easier.

In 2002, Lee and Karen Paterson turned a pasture north of Holualoa in Kona, into the 34-acre Hula Daddy farm. They have since produced some of Kona's finest coffees and today, continue to innovate, experimenting with various varietals and production methods and nuturing their coffees with an inordinate amount of care in the preparation of the final product. In addition to other honors, in 2008, their "Kona Sweet" received a rare score of 97 from Ken Davids's Coffee Review, for their dry-processed "Kona Sweet".

As I mentioned in an earlier review, these are among the most perfectly prepped coffees I've seen, yielding an extremely even roast with very little chaff. Defects are non-existent and although I did not screen the coffees, off-grade beans are nearly impossible to find. As an example of the care they take in the prep, the Extra Fancy beans are screened to 19/64. For most farms XF is everything 19/64 and above, This Extra Fancy is passed through a 20/64 screen so that all the beans are above 19/64 and below 20/64, surpassing the State of Hawaii standards. This makes the beans more uniform for home roasters.

In 2008, Miguel Meza, formerly of Paradise Roasters and R Miguel Coffee, moved to Hawaii and is now the Roastmaster++ at Hula Daddy. He was already known as one of the industry's innovators when he arrived (we've mentioned his accomplishments in previous reviews) and now continues his creative work, assisting Hula Daddy to achieve their high quality, zero-defect coffee. He sees himself more as the coffee industry equivalent of a winemaker, going well beyond roasting to quality control, R&D, and generally bringing his expertise to bear on Hula Daddy's effort to produce as many unique and distinct coffees from one plantation as possible.


As one would expect, these three coffees have many similarities. Common to all three are their basic, "traditional, classic, island coffee" flavors. They are all quite sweet, have some floral and fruit aromas, medium-to-heavy body, medium acidity and are long in the finish. The differences are mostly apparent in their complexity and balance.

Is bigger, better? It would seem so in the case of these coffees; the larger the bean, the more complex and balanced. But perhaps it has something to do with the extraordinary selection of beans for the two higher grade coffees.

I gave the two higher graded coffees, a cuppers point because I had no way, in the scoring method I use, to truly express the beauty of the prep, and the excellence of the brew. (The point scores below are mostly related to the cupping process and roast, and don't reflect the quality of the brewed drink.)

Kona "Number One":
This coffee has low tones of bitter sweet chocolate (perhaps similar to a 60% cacao dark chocolate), fine acidity and much in the way of caramel and nuts. There is also a citrus note, very slight earthiness and an edgy, agressive quality to the finish. The coffee is well balanced and makes an excellent brewed cup.

I liked it best roasted to full city, pulling it before second crack.

Dry Fragrance: 4.6
Wet Aroma: 4.6
Flavor: 8.3
Finish: 7.9
Acidity: 7.5
Body: 7.7
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 90.6

Kona Fancy:
This coffee has increased depth, intensity and sweetness. In the grinder it reminds one of buttered toast spread with chocolate and these flavors are confirmed in the cup. It also has more of the citrus notes, caramel, nuts and some subtle fruit to enhance the profile. The coffee has excellent balance between its medium-high acidity and sweetness.

This coffee is also best roasted to full city, pulling it just before second crack and then brewing it (rather than drinking it as an espresso).

Dry Fragrance: 4.8
Wet Aroma: 4.6
Flavor: 8.6
Finish: 8.2
Acidity: 7.5
Body: 7.7
Cuppers Points: 1.0
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 92.4

Kona Extra Fancy:
The excellence of this coffee must be what folks are referring to when they extole the qualities of the finest Kona coffees. It's got it all - everything the above coffees exhibit cranked up a bit, and more subtly blended into the whole, with additional sweetness, a complex blend of fruit, floral aromas, chocolate, caramel and a touch of citrus, now reminding me a bit of bergamot.

The coffee is as perfectly balanced as any I've had and lingers as a long finish to complete the experience. I think Miguel stated in one of his emails, that he can improve this coffee still further. Perhaps, but don't forget how you produced this lot and maybe, leave it alone! There's a sayings in show business that goes something like - if the act works, and works real well, don't change it!

Dry Fragrance: 4.8
Wet Aroma: 4.7
Flavor: 8.8
Finish: 8.4
Acidity: 7.6
Body: 7.8
Cuppers Points: 1.0
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 93.1

  • Lighter Roasts: Slightly herbal with some complexity but best a bit darker for balance and flavors.
  • Darker Roasts: Bullseye(!) but not too dark. A complex and sweet brewed coffee.
  • As Espresso: Little crema and not enough complexity in the straight shot . A sweet cappuccino.


UPDATED: January 5, 2010