It never ceases to amaze me, all the things some people add to coffee. Butter. Yak butter. Coconut oil. Egg. Egg?! Coca-Cola?! Before I diverge into the weeds, I came across this article, The science behind adding salt to coffee. I had never heard about doing that, but who knows everything? It’s fun to explore, learn, and experiment. Supposedly salt might take away some of the bitterness in coffee and enhance the coffee’s flavor. I was wondering if people added this to cheap or Robusta coffee. I haven’t tried it. Big Joe, the great culinary experimenter, probably has at some point in his life.
There’s this quote by W. Somerset Maugham:
“But there are people who take salt with their coffee. They say it gives a tang, a savour, which is peculiar and fascinating. In the same way there are certain places, surrounded by a halo of romance, to which the inevitable disillusionment you experience on seeing them gives a singular spice. You had expected something wholly beautiful and you get an impression which is infinitely more complicated than any that beauty can give you. It is the weakness in the character of a great man which may make him less admirable but certainly more interesting.
Nothing had prepared me for Honolulu...”
I stumbled upon a sweet, bite-sized love story called Salty Coffee A Love Story. Check it out. I like the domain name, alltimeshortstories. I couldn’t find out too much about who’s behind the domain or facebook group, though.
While writing this blog post, I learned about egg coffee, credited to Scandinavians or, I think more likely, Scandinavian-Americans. My favorite Norwegian from Norway has never heard of it. This article, Eggs in Coffee – How to Make Norwegian Egg Coffee, seems to experiment in a similar way that I would, if I wanted to engage in this experiment (which I don’t at the moment). This similar article about Traditional Swedish Egg Coffee was interesting for the how-to steps with pretty photos and the comments at the end.
My mother-in-law would often start her day with a cigarette, a glass of Coca-Cola, coffee, and an egg with salt. Just think, she could have thrown everything in her coffee, stirred it with her cigarette and started a new trend — salty coke egg coffee with a cigarette stirrer.
Time for another break from coffee. I think it’s so interesting how sometimes many small things you do, read about, learn of, and/or see sometimes all come together. I was mucking around with our taro and thought I’d like to share the experience, so I took some photos. I like the idea of a farm with a variety of edibles on it, not just growing a mono crop for cash. This article in Ke Ola magazine about agroforestry struck a chord with me. I referenced it in this blog after we saw The Biggest Little Farm.
We just attended the first meeting (held on Zoom) by the breadfruit people, an introduction to breadfruit for economic, environmental, and cultural sustainability. Important to them is community, sharing knowledge, and regenerative vs. extractive agriculture. And who was the organizer? Craig Elevitch, the man in the Ke Ola article! Also important to this group is the cultural component, the spiritual underpinnings. The meeting opened up with a gentleman who paused and grounded everyone, including a prayer in Hawaiian, also given in English. He expressed heartfelt gratitude for the sun, the earth, water, plants, community, etc. It reminded me of the book I recently read, Braiding Sweetgrass.
In any case, the organizers of this breadfruit meeting are in a different league than us in terms of farming, agroforestry, etc. I feel fortunate for simply having family and friends who give us various things that they’ve grown, for us to eat and to plant. And they pass on their knowledge and hands-on experience.
I’m growing edible ginger for my first time. My aunty reassures me that I can’t kill it. I’ve planted it in a few places, including in a pot, and I’m looking forward to learning about it. Many weeks later nothing has come up! And rain has washed away some of the dirt that was covering some of the roots. I’m just leaving those as they are to see what happens. My mom reassures me that ginger will grow when it wants to.
A few months ago my friend gave me an araimo (called sataimo in Japanese) type of taro plant, and it’s now quite big. (side note: the university extension CTAHR has listed 74(!) varieties of taro in Hawaii.) Then three weeks ago she came over with a much smaller taro (same type) with a 2.5″ diameter root attached. Upon her instructions, I cut off the root to eat and replanted the plant. The plant she gave me months ago that’s in our ground is considerably larger, so I felt I probably missed the harvest time. In the meantime, my mama plant pushed up a lot of other keiki (kids).
So I decided to dig them up the other day to see what I have. I couldn’t dig out just Big Mama, so I had to uproot the whole family. The mama’s root wasn’t a nice ball/bulb, but I kept the half sphere I had. The kids’ roots were pretty small. I replanted all the kids, with their roots intact, except one. I did keep one root of a kid, just to try. I replanted Big Mama in a separate area, without her root; I’m curious if she’ll survive. My friend said to wash the roots and leave them in the sun to dry for a day to make them sweeter.
I wanted the root of the mother taro, but there were many babies surrounding it. I dug them all up.
There didn't seem to be bulbous roots for the keiki/kids.
The roots were too small, so I planted all of them back except one.
This taro root is going to be tasted.
Taro root separated from the above ground plant. In the background is a root that my friend harvested 3 weeks earlier.
After the root was separated, I replanted the plant.
This is the plant my friend gave me three weeks earlier. I separated the root and immediately replanted the plant. It took. I just placed the root there for the photo.
It feels strange to cut off the root and just stick the plant in dirt without any root bulb or little roots. With pineapple starts, you first grow some roots, a process that takes weeks, before sticking the plant in the ground. Uncle Harold saves every single pineapple top, I think. He’s given us many starts. (His fascination with mangos is another story for another post.)
This pineapple top is resting in a yogurt container with water high enough to reach its bottom.
Pineapple top with roots. This can be planted in dirt.
Little pineapple fruit growing from a pineapple start from Uncle Harold.
Pineapple starts. A few have been hit by the weed whacker.
The photos below show the taro the morning after planting the rootless plant, and three days later. You should be able to slide the arrows to easily compare each set of two photos. The first comparison is of the kid, and the second set of two photos is Big Mama. The leaves are suffering more, but notice the stalk is becoming more upright.
We’re gradually experiencing fewer dry days as we transition to the rainy season. The dry season didn’t seem all that dry, though I do recall two 2-week periods without rain. By my count, we had 18, 15, and 12 dry days in January, February, and March, respectively. We have truly micro climates here. The farm a mile away can be different than ours.
In early March Hawaii (state) made even international news with the heavy rains, disastrous flooding, and landslides. Friends were reaching out, hoping we were OK. I remember one particular time a friend texted, and I was just hanging clothes out on the drying line. Parts of the other islands were the ones impacted, worthy of the governor issuing an emergency declaration. Kona’s dry season is when the other islands and the other side of Hawaii island have their rainy season. Our island does still have snow on its two highest volcanos, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, from the winter storms.
I’ve noticed that Bea (Mom) notes sunrise and sunset times by hand on her paper calendar. I’ve told her a few times that she can find that information online. But I’m becoming my mom. I’m not noting sunrise & sunset, but I am making imprecise rain notes. I can’t quantify the amount in inches. I just cannot find an online site that accurately reflects the situation on our farm.
I wonder if the fuzzier difference between the dry and rainy season has led to fuzzier blossom rounds. The blossoms usually come a few weeks after a good soaking rain. But lately we haven’t had a dry spell followed by a soaker because we haven’t had many consecutive dry days. Earlier I could detect some blossom peaks, and you only realize the peak after you’ve passed it. Now it’s hard for me to designate a particular day as the peak of a particular blossom round. I’ve noted blossom start, then a few days later designated a peak of light blossoms. But then a week later, there are another few days of blossoms and another peak of light blossoms. In any case, it is the time of year when you see blossoms on some coffee trees anywhere you go around the general Kona coffee area.
The trees that were stumped in February (foreground) are showing new growth. The trees at the top of the frame are the ones that were stumped last year.
The trees that were stumped in 2020 are producing nicely.
Because I have accumulated so many various links to share, I have to try and get them out there in case it catches you at a receptive time. I’ll close with a link to an article a friend recently sent. It’s about the author’s quest to home brew the best tasting cup. I’ve used all five methods at various times. Right now, I remain a pour over fan. FYI, there is a Search box at the bottom of this website/blog if you recall I wrote about something before and you want to get back to it (e.g., Aeropress). I use this search button a fair amount. Keep your Beas Knees buzzing.
Zombies … bleary eyed, they stumble out of their bedrooms into the kitchen and want/need to make coffee. Brains barely engaged. Friends sometimes share a photo or anecdote of something silly they’ve done when they’ve made coffee in the morning. E.g., whole, instead of ground, beans inside the pour-over dripper. Some days we need the coffee in order to safely, successfully make a cup of coffee.
This burr grinder is pretty simple. We’ve already set the coarseness, so we’ll assume we don’t have to adjust that. I’ve marked up the photo to show the steps:
(1) Put whole beans in the hopper. (2) Turn the knob to grind a certain number of cups (essentially run the grinder for a certain time). (3) Remove the ground coffee from the bottom compartment.
It is amazing how many adventures this little grinder has had. It has a see-through plastic lid on the hopper. Before we put the sticker on the lid, at least three of us have accidentally poured the whole beans onto the lid, scattering beans all over the counter and floor. And at least two of us have done it more than once.
One of us accidentally poured water into the hopper instead of the electric kettle.
And after teaching one guest how to use the grinder and make a pour-over, the next day I was in the kitchen with the guest, doing my own thing. I heard the guest say, “That’s weird. Some of the coffee came through.” But the guest managed to continue on to make the cup of coffee. The next day, I heard the guest say something like, “Hmmm. The grinder didn’t work.” That’s when I and the guest realized that the guest was putting the whole beans where the ground beans should end up. Heh heh.
Those are zombie-needs-coffee stories, attesting to coffee being required for mental alertness. Another function of coffee is to serve as social glue. For this, it needn’t really be coffee. It could be tea. Like Indian-style chai at the yoga shala. Maybe it’s a cigarette break at work for those who smoke. It’s the small thing/reason/excuse that people briefly pause around, and engage and chat with each other. And why not make it a two-fer — wake up AND socialize.
A bike ride with one or more others is just a bike ride, or a run just a run, without the coffee to gather around afterward. If you’re the one who always rushes off to work or on to other things without lingering with your buddies, I honestly feel you are missing out. Humans, even introverts, are social beings. This pandemic has certainly brought that to our collective awareness.
For those of you who entertained when that was still possible, we discovered that throwing informal, open-house-style coffee tasting parties (nothing elaborate, just the two different roasts of our coffee) was a lot of fun. There are different expectations for a dinner versus a coffee, not even breakfast, gathering. We’d provide little tidbits like biscotti, scones; and others would, unasked, contribute coffee cake, mini-tarts, quiche, etc. And it became this fun morning party. People gathering, chatting and moving about, coming and going as their mornings allowed. We knew the party would be what it would be, depending on how many showed up, when. Intense, then it’s over, and you still have the rest of your day. You aren’t washing dishes at midnight or rolling into bed exhausted and/or drunk like you might after a dinner party.
On a more intimate note, I’m feeling deeply sad. Our covid-bubble couple are moving back to the mainland. It was already planned a year ago but was put on hold because of the pandemic. Since September we started regularly (bicycle) riding early Sunday morning, followed by coffee on the lanai. At first it was just coffee. Then we started sharing our experimental baked goods, snacks, brunch, and the after-ride would sometimes stretch longer than the ride. I find it one of life’s true joys, to be able to linger and while away unstructured time with friends.
With travel severely restricted and large gatherings discouraged, we haven’t even been spending time with the cousins, even the ones who are our neighbors on the family land. The ‘ohana gatherings were always as a gang, but each family has gone nuclear all year to do our part to avoid getting or spreading the coronavirus. So, for my husband and me, our in-person social lives consisted of this bubble of us two couples. We spent the big fall/winter holidays together. It was different for all of us, since they’d normally be with their adult children, and we’d be with our extended family.
Their leaving and the intense friendship under isolation with all the coronavirus restrictions seem to have triggered a melancholy and sadness. This is probably an accumulation of negative-tone emotions from the whole year that have been squelched by keeping busy. I think this mourning and grieving have broadsided many others at different times, related to this pandemic and weird year. Our friends’ move is an ending of a certain life period that will be indelibly emotionally imprinted on us.
In case you missed it before, I’ll close with a copy of the poem “We Are Not in the Same Boat” by an unknown author that made the social media rounds about a year ago.
WE ARE NOT IN THE SAME BOAT …
I heard that we are in the same boat.
But it’s not like that.
We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat.
Your ship can be shipwrecked and mine might not be.
Or vice versa.
For some, quarantine is optimal: moment of reflection, of re-connection. Easy, in flip flops, with a whiskey or tea.
For others, this is a desperate crisis.
For others it is facing loneliness.
For some, a peace, rest time, vacation.
Yet for others, Torture: How am I going to pay my bills?
Some were concerned about a brand of chocolate for Easter (this year there were no rich chocolates).
Others were concerned about the bread for the weekend, or if the noodles would last for a few more days.
Some were in their “home office”
Others are looking through trash to survive.
Some want to go back to work because they are running out of money.
Others want to kill those who break the quarantine.
Some need to break the quarantine to stand in line at the banks.
Others to escape.
Others criticize the government for the lines.
Some have experienced the near death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it, some are not sure their loved ones are going to make it, and some don’t even believe this is a big deal.
Some of us who are well now may end up experiencing it, and some believe they are infallible and will be blown away if or when this hits someone they know
Some have faith in God and expect miracles during this 2020.
Others say the worse is yet to come.
So, friends, we are not in the same boat.
We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different.
And each one will emerge, in his own way, from that storm.
Some with a tan from their pool. Others with scars on the soul (for invisible reasons).
It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, more than looking, seeing.
See beyond the political party, beyond religion, beyond the nose on your face.
Do not underestimate the pain of others if you do not feel it.
Do not judge the good life of the other, do not condemn the bad life of the other.
Don’t be a judge.
Let us not judge the one who lacks, as well as the one who exceeds him.
We are on different ships looking to survive.
Let everyone navigate their route with respect, empathy and responsibility.
The Kona coffee brand is a big deal. I wrote in 2019 about a group of Kona coffee farmers who filed a class action lawsuit against a number of coffee purveyors for allegedly selling fraudulent Kona coffee. Six of the defendants have recently agreed to settle the case without admitting to the allegations. The current proposed settlement total is over $13 million.
We Kona coffee farmers have now been contacted about proposed settlements in the class action lawsuit Corker, et al. v. Costco Wholesale Corp., et al., No. 1:19-cv-00290, United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. If you’re interested, check out the informational website, konacoffeesettlement.com.
I wonder what this lawsuit and its resolution could mean for our industry in the long run.
Not the same issue, but related to the brand … I wrote about it a year ago, truth in labeling. To label a coffee a Kona blend, what percentage of Kona coffee do you think is required? It’s a measly 10%!! This has been in the labeling law for almost 30 years. Bills to redress this problem have repeatedly been brought up to Legislature and failed.