This will be a combined review, both of us having received samples. For a description of Bob and Jim's evaluation procedure, see our reference page.
When one speaks to professional coffee people about Hawaiian coffees, they will usually just smile; quite simply, they rarely shine at the cupping table. They are sweet, and bring back memories of a great vacation, but purely in terms of taste, they are usually not worth the prices they command. However, this year, there was a surprise. The Ka'u Farm and Ranch LLC, helped the best of its lessee farmers, prep their beans and bring them to this year's SCAA cupping pavilion. Ka'u is a highland region at the southern coast of the big Island (Kona is on the west coast) and their coffees have been gathering a reputation for being equal, in preparation quality, to the best Konas.
The coffees finished surprisingly well at the SCAA cupping. The best, this Will & Grace Farms lot, finished 6th, while another one finished 9th. Did the SCAA get it right?
Every now and then on the cupping table, even when cupping blind, a particular coffee will stand out from the rest and the cause the cupper to respond with a "wow"! This Hawaiian is one such. It is unmistakably unique and demanding of attention and is perhaps the best Hawaiian I've cupped in a long time.
The flavor profile is one of deep complexity. At its simplest, the cup is classic and clean. As we dig deeper, we experience floral aromas, a caramel-nutty sweetness, a melon fruitiness and a very pleasant herbal, sweet pea, malty nuance.
Yet this cup is not just a sweet cup. Its acidity provides an almost perfect balance with its fruitiness and its medium body and long finish. I may have to buy some of this!! It brewed well but it also stood the test of the espresso machine, producing a rather acceptable straight shot and a scrumptious cappa.
I was unaware of the coffee's backstory when I first cupped it, and was expecting just another sweet, but underpowered Hawaiian coffee. So I was shocked at how good this coffee tasted; the cuppers at the SCAA had it right. The aromas of fresh green almonds and almond blossom are reflected in the very sweet marzipan tastes in the cup. In addition, the cup has a quality that reminds me of biting into a very juicy ripe fruit; although I can't quite identify the exact flavor, something between a honeydew and a sweet citrus perhaps. The body is light, but pleasing.
The espresso shot was surprisingly good for such a light bodied coffee; the flavors in the cup made it through into the shot.
Medium roasts will accentuate the almond flavors; darker roasts are not recommended.
Dry Fragrance: 4.7
Wet Aroma: 4.5
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 91.6
Dry fragrance: 4.5
Wet Aroma: 4.75
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 90.75