Coffee Anatomy

We are oh-so-close to having roasted coffee to sell. The dry mill we and many others use is operating 24 hours, 7 days a week now. We should have coffee available this week, but I don’t feel comfortable changing our website from “out of stock” until I know we can fulfill orders.

A brief processing overview: We wash process (wet mill) our coffee the day red cherries are picked. And there are multiple pickings over four or five months. After wet milling we have parchment. Our first big picking’s parchment has been drying for a little over two months. Now we’re ready for dry milling that, the result of which will be green beans. Our coffee is stored in green bean form waiting for you to order roasted coffee.

It’ll be a short post this week. I’m just going to point you to the Perfect Daily Grind’s earlier published article, “The anatomy of the coffee cherry. ”

What’s Simple, Precise, and Highly Adaptable?

Alan Adler and his coffee invention. And who’s Alan Adler? An inventor extraordinaire who created, most famously, the Frisbee. But also the AeroPress. The AeroPress was born not that long ago, debuting in 2005. Apparently it started with a dinner time question at the Frisbee company’s team meeting, “What do you guys do when you just want one cup of coffee?” I highly recommend reading Adler’s fascinating story. It’s an inspirational story of a quintessential curious Silicon Valley tinkerer.

I learned of the AeroPress only since getting into the coffee farming business. Over a year ago my brother-in-law sent us a link to a Tim Wendelboe how-to video, in which he used the AeroPress. When we were recently at the cafe in Oslo, the barista made our coffees using the AeroPress. According to the World AeroPress Championship website, the event was born with someone asking, “Wouldn’t it be fun to see who could brew the best cup of AeroPress coffee?” “The first competition took place in a small room in Oslo, with only three competitors and Tim Wendelboe as the judge. It was a modest and understated affair.” Read more in “The History of the AeroPress, from Concept to Championships.”

The winner of the 2019 United States Aeropress Championship in August was a woman from Honolulu, Hawaii, Towa Ikawa. Congratulations! In the news article, there was a photo of the finalists, judges, and emcee, and I was struck and pleased by the diversity.

Also mentioned in that news article was the notion of using the AeroPress for cold brew. I finally tried it today using this Perfect Daily Grind article as my guide. Two minutes versus 16+ hours. In my first attempt I learned that I hadn’t ground the coffee finely enough. Adler says there should be enough coffee and it should be fine enough that there shouldn’t be more than 3mm drip-through before you begin pressing. I had more than that. I did a second pressing with the finest grind our grinder could do. The second pressing tasted better, but the first wasn’t bad.

Anyway, if you have an AeroPress, try it out. If you don’t have one, they are only in the $30 range. If I were to get one now, I’d get the new AeroPress Go. Here’s a link to a crazy amount of recipes. Abbreviating a few of Adler’s inventing tips, also apropos for life: learn all you can; scrupulously study; be willing to try things; try to be objective; and persist!

Rain is Grace

Rain is grace; rain is the sky condescending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.      

John Updike

As I looked to the wise Internet for ideas for a title for this post, I learned that there are over 200 words for rain in the Hawaiian language.

When is Kona’s rainy season? Roughly April-October. In other words, summer, plus and minus. Summer is often the drier season on most of the same island and the rest of the Hawaiian islands. There are many micro-climates on the island, and rain is very localized. It isn’t at all uncommon that you are sitting under a rain cloud, and one mile away, it’s dry and the sun is shining.

It has been raining daily, usually in the late afternoon or night, sometimes HARD. And all that water? It just goes into the ground! It’s not muddy or full of puddles. There aren’t little streams or erosion through the land. Lava rock is amazing. For one thing, we don’t have a lot of loose topsoil. The land is rocky with a light layer of soil on top. Once the sun is out for a while, you don’t see much evidence of all the rain that came down overnight. It’s this reliable rain and sun that allows us to farm without irrigating. But the climate has been changing, and there have been many years of severe drought. No drought here this year, though; it has been a good year for rain. And the trees are producing!

At the end of September, we’ve already picked more coffee than all of last season. And we’ve already picked another round in October and have more upcoming. This will be a good year for us. This newspaper article from a month ago describes well the rain and coffee situation. And this WHT article from yesterday talks about rain and all the many micro-climates on Hawaii island.

The parchment for our first large picking has dried for just over 60 days now, so soon it will be dry milled and we’ll be able to offer roasted coffee again. Season 2 for Bea’s Knees Farm.

Happy (Inter)National Coffee Day

Today, September 29, is National Coffee Day, and International Coffee Day is October 1. Those are good grounds to get me back writing after a social media, and real-life, vacation. The coffee from last season sold out (hurrah!), our current season’s crop is still being picked and processed, and my husband and I visited his family in Norway.

Many years ago we brought some Hawaii family to Norway to experience midsummer and the midnight sun, among other things. A Hawaiian Flat Stanley probably is still hiding unseen in the Lofoten Aquarium; he slid down alongside the glass of a tank when posing for a photo. And in the years afterward, various in-laws have come to Hawaii several times. One young couple even married in Hawaii, with all guests happily coming from Norway in January (except four Americans from our family). Yes, the Hawaiians and Vikings have had some fun times together.

You can reflect for yourself just how different Norway and Hawaii seem. I instantly think cold/winter vs. hot/summer. Northern Norway alternates seasons of no-sun and all-sun, if the weather lets you see the sun. Hawaii has about the same number of hours of daylight all year long. Fishing is a big part of culture and life in both places. Coffee is, too (drinking coffee in Norway; growing coffee in Hawaii).

On this recent trip we brought almost 20 pounds of coffee to share with family and friends. Every household we visited had a Moccamaster coffee machine (a handmade Dutch product), and we were offered coffee at all times of day. I think Norwegians must have the genes that detect caffeine’s bitterness and the genes that quickly metabolize caffeine.

Most Norwegians I met shared that Norway is the, or one of the, top per-capita coffee consumers in the world. Of course, I had to research a bit into where that came from. I couldn’t find any one source, but this one from WorldAtlas in 2018 seems to be oft-referenced. It says Norway is second in per-capita coffee consumption at 9.9 kg/person/year.

I’ve been peripherally following a bit of the Nordic coffee scene for a few months. “Oslo is Scandinavia’s New Coffee Mecca.” I have a fantasy of someday selling some of our green coffee to a Norwegian roaster. On our first full day in Oslo, my husband’s brother took us on a crazy urban bike ride to try coffee at Tim Wendelboe’s cafe in the trendy Grünerløkka neighborhood. Delicious, and it was a treat and experience. Tim Wendelboe is one of the writers for the Nordic Coffee Culture blog, where you can find a 5-part series (with more parts originally intended) about a history of coffee in Norway. I can’t imagine too many of you readers who aren’t Norwegian or married to one are interested in that, but now you know.

Check out the Learn section of Tim Wendelboe’s website. I like the Brewing Guide videos. They’re educational, but they also amuse me. This guy takes his coffee very seriously, but there are these little hints in the videos that show he doesn’t take himself completely seriously. He’s targeting an international audience, given that his website and videos are all in English.

I’ll end this more international- vs. Kona-flavored post on that note. Happy National Coffee Day and an early Happy International Coffee Day.

Savoring

Coincidentally, this post ties in well to last week’s. Today I had a special treat of spontaneously visiting a cafe I had never heard of or been to, with a friend who had recently discovered it. They serve specialty coffee in handmade ceramics. For me, it’s a delight to drink coffee out of a handmade cup that I visually appreciate and enjoy holding. There are those “I need coffee!!” times, and then there are the moments you really sink in and enjoy coffee.

What is it for you?

By yourself in the quiet of the early morning, before the rest of the household is stirring?

With others?

When you visit a favorite relative in the afternoon (grandparents come to mind), and she/he serves coffee and a special baked goodie?

As the final flourish at the end of a satisfying multi-course dinner out? (for those with low sensitivity to caffeine …)

When you’re out for breakfast?

When you go to your weekly meetup with your peeps?

When you’re on vacation?

After the rest of the family heads off for the day, and you finally have time for yourself?

When it’s cold, grey, and dreary outside?

It’s a snow day?

An easy-to-blow-by experience like a cup of coffee is an opportunity to delight in a brief moment of pleasure and indulgence in your day.

Don’t you want it to also be a good cup of coffee?