Ack!! Did you realize that we close out summer today?!

I came across an article about summer coffee cocktails just a few weeks ago, but the title is SUMMER coffee cocktails, and I realized that today is the last day of summer this year. I suspect many of you have experienced a loss of time perspective a few times this year. COVID-19 seems to have had that effect on people. Some say the days all blend together. For many of us, there aren’t trips or memorable, large get togethers, big weddings, the end of school, graduation ceremonies, or the start of school to help separate parts of this year. It’s just before-shutdown and now. And “has it really been seven months already?!”

Cocktails remind me of my friend Joe, AKA, Big Kahuna Kahlua Joe. He was having ICE CREAM before 8:30am because he’s a cream & sugar coffee drinker, and he was out of half & half and even milk, but he did have ice cream to improve his coffee.

Ice cream in the morning feels rebellious. There have been a few times my husband and I have ordered ice cream at Kope Lani on Ali’i in Kailua-Kona before 8:30am because it already felt hot and we felt like it after swimming. It’s fun to be the first of the day, when everyone else is having coffee, and see the owner remove the insulating boards covering the ice cream cartons.

I hope you’ve enjoyed your last day of summer. And maybe you can still squeeze in a summer coffee cocktail in summer, or maybe in the fall, and evoke that summertime feeling.

Months after the sweet, white flowers … luscious cherry!

In the truck bed is a full day’s work, from 6am-4pm, of ten pickers. How many pounds of cherry do you think are in those burlap bags?

Following sizable rain, about one to two weeks later coffee flowers burst forth, emitting their lovely, delicate jasmine aroma. And like clockwork, ripe, red cherries can be picked about 210-220 days, about seven months, after blossoming.

We are currently in the middle of our third round of probably five or six pickings for this season. We’ve already harvested more cherry than our entire first season in 2018. This year and last, we’ve had good rain, and the volcanic action has stopped for now, bringing back vog-less blue skies that have been missing for decades. And the trees have had more years of regular care.

Answer: Day 1’s harvest in the truck was about 1400 pounds.

What Cup Material Gives You the Most Drinking Pleasure?

Drinking coffee is a daily pleasure for many people. And for those who make coffee at home, the favorite cup is an important part of that. Ceramic? Double-walled glass? That’s Bea’s favorite; she even bought some for us.

Then there are the to-go containers. You might pour your home brew to go in a stainless steel mug, many of which have a silicone rim so you don’t burn your lips. Or maybe a thick plastic mug. Or a double walled insulated plastic mug with a lid. There are the paper to-go cups, maybe doubled for heat protection when you pick up coffee to go. The cafe or you might add a thin plastic lid to prevent spillage.

You’ve surely noticed that the material does affect how your coffee tastes and the experience of drinking coffee. Despite the silicone rim on the Contigo, something about it, I almost always burn my lips and mouth. I don’t like drinking from the sippy hole on thin plastic covers of paper coffee cups. I just don’t drink “right.” My stainless steel cup works pretty nicely, but even if the metal doesn’t absorb flavors, the silicone edge has picked up previous chai and other tea flavors.

Maybe you’re now motivated to browse this recent article, “Do Different Materials Affect The Flavour Of Your Coffee?”

How to Make a Classic Brunch Dish Mo’ Bettah

Pidgin lesson for the day: mo’ bettah = “more better” as in, improve. Put the coffee in the dish, don’t just drink coffee with the dish. And I have thoughts on how to make French toast more Hawaiian.

I recently came across this recipe which was adapted from A Flash in the Pan: Simple, Speedy, Stovetop Recipes by John Whaite, Kyle Books. (You can find the original recipe on his website). I wanted to first make the brunch dish before posting it, but I often don’t whittle through my “to try” list quickly enough. I like to change up the blog posts, and a recipe is due. I share it in case you’ll get around to it before me.

The recipe calls for instant espresso powder, which I’ve never tried. I’ve tried instant coffee, but never instant espresso. I knew I wanted to substitute Bea’s Knees coffee, but I didn’t know in what brewed form. I don’t have an espresso maker, so I decided I’d brew really strong coffee in the Aeropress, and decrease the amount of liquid (the milk). Around the time of discovering the recipe this other article about how instant coffee is made was sent to me.

And, finally, here’s the recipe, with my side comments in italics:

Coffee and Corn Flake French Toast

1/2 cup whole milk

2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (I plan to try 2 tsp of strong Aeropress & 2 tsp less milk)

1 tablespoon runny honey

2 large eggs

3 cups cornflakes (add a little sweetened flaked coconut?)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 thick slices of brioche or challah bread (day-old)
(I’ll use thick slices of Punalu’u Hawaiian sweet bread)

Maple syrup, to serve (To make it Hawaiian, I’d use lilikoi syrup!)

Put the milk and espresso powder into a mixing bowl and whisk to combine. 

Add the honey and eggs and whisk until well mixed. 

Crush the cornflakes roughly (e.g., smash in large ziploc) — some should be fine powder, while other pieces should be fairly chunky. Tip into a wide bowl or plate. 

Set a large frying pan over medium-high heat. 

Once the pan is hot, reduce the heat to medium and add the butter, swirling it around the pan to melt. 

Dunk the bread slices, one at a time, into the egg mixture, pressing them down gently to soak them well. 

Dip both sides of the bread slices into the cornflakes to coat completely, then pop into the pan. 

If your pan is big enough, fry all four pieces at once; otherwise cook the bread slices in batches, only dipping and coating them just before frying. Add more butter if necessary. Fry over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes per side, until deeply golden and crispy. Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup.

I would heat up some sliced, pan-fried apple bananas, and add some chopped macadamia nuts, too.

Yield: 4 slices

Got a nagging little question?

In my email inbox very early Saturday morning a customer asked, “Why is the coffee wet?” This was from one of our mainland customers several timezones away. We had a little exchange not too long ago about shipping delays. Once in a while he buys beans from different farms “to see what they are all about.” (Kona coffee farmers thank you!) It’s nice to hear the customer’s perspective and infer how one’s business seems to compare with other similar businesses. He had recently experienced a long delay in a shipment from another Kona coffee farm.

Most of the months since the pandemic shutdown, we fortunately haven’t experienced any significant slowdowns in shipping.  It surprised me, in fact.  But lately, just in the past couple of weeks, things have noticeably suffered with USPS.  Two packages that went out on the same day reached the mainland West Coast in two days.  One reached the recipient the day after that; the other stayed stuck in a San Jose, CA, USPS facility for days and didn’t get moved along for a week and a half!  The recipient was IN San Jose and could have driven over, could have WALKED over, to get it.

In any case, we do like to hear from customers. Carl asked why our coffee was wet. It stuck to the sides after grinding. He found the same thing with others’ coffee. He wanted to know if that was natural.

I answered, “The coffee appears wet because of its natural oils. The more you roast it, the more oils come out, making it look wet.  If you have a darker roast of ours or other coffee, you might want to note if it seems to be ‘wetter’ in your grinder.”

Before being in the coffee business, when I’d just drink coffee and not think much more about it, I used to think that oily, dark beans meant that oil was used to roast the coffee. But, no, roasting longer brings out more of the beans’ oils.

Carl then sent a photo of our coffee and another farm’s Kona coffee. Both are medium roast. Ours is on the right; the other’s on the left. Ours is a little darker and “wetter.”

Beans are roasted within a certain range.   Sweet Marias specializes in helping home roasters and has a lot of tutorials and interesting info.

This one might be particularly useful for the topic of roasting and visual signs. It’s one of several articles that can be found in their library about roasting basics.

FYI, we roast to 425 degrees for medium and 433 for medium-dark.

Let us know your other coffee questions …