How we came to make pour-overs

For a few years now, we usually make our coffee as a pour-over.  There’s a little story to that.  One time we were housesitting for friends.  We knew they owned a coffee maker, but we couldn’t easily find it.  They did have a cool, beehive kettle on their stove, though.  We found the drip cone & the filters.   I used to make pour-overs in college before they were called pour-overs.  I had a plastic Melitta cone, which I’d put on top of my cup, and I’d pour boiling water into it.

I was curious why this beehive kettle would be designed the way it was.   And then I internet-stumbled upon the passion of coffee drinkers and their brewing methods.  And I read many articles about how to make a great pour-over cup of coffee.

For a recent example, check out this article about making pour-overs like a barista.

It was shortly before my husband’s birthday, so I thought that kettle and a pour-over dripper (also its own research topic) would make a perfect gift.  Something he might not buy himself, but a small indulgence he could enjoy at the start of each day.  You can put whatever kind of effort or exactitude into your pour-over as you like.

I like the simplicity and that you can tailor each person’s cup to that person’s wishes — strength, amount — by adjusting the grind size, the amount of coffee and water used, the rate and how you pour in the water.  The coffee is made when the person wants to drink it; no more 1.5 hour old coffee sitting in the coffee maker.  I enjoy the process of making it.  I feel I enjoy my coffee more when I pay attention to making it.   I particularly like inhaling and smelling over the dripper when you first let the grounds “bloom” — when you just wet, but don’t soak, the grounds, and you see the little bubbles of CO2 rise out of your grounds.

A few friends have asked if there’s anything I feel really strongly about regarding making coffee.   I do think freshly grinding coffee makes a big difference, and best is right before you’re going to drink it.   There are really so many variables!!  Experiment with what works for you and discover what you like and what you feel is worth the effort and price.  

Coffee-encrusted pork tenderloin

It’s the holiday season, so it’s time for a recipe!  This one (adapted) is our favorite from Smoke It Like a Pro on the Big Green Egg & Other Ceramic Cookers, by Eric C. Mitchell, 2015.  To respect the cookbook author’s copyright, the method is not described in detail as in his cookbook.  

If any of you have a recipe to share — something that uses coffee or something that goes well with a cup of coffee — please contact me!

Makes 6 servings.


pork tenderloins, 2
olive oil — 2 teaspoons (tsp)

Bea’s Knees Farm coffee, ground — 3 tablespoons (Tbsp) (17g)
Hawaiian sea salt — up to 1 Tbsp depending how salty (20g)
dark brown sugar — 1 Tbsp (12 g)
black pepper, ground — 1 tsp (2g)
garlic powder, 1 tsp (2g)
onion powder, 1 tsp (2g)

calamondin (kumquat or orange) marmalade, 1 cup (240ml)
Grand Marnier, 2 tsp (10ml)
Cointreau, 1 tsp (5ml)
soy sauce, 1 tsp (5ml)

Put the glaze ingredients together in a sauce pot and simmer over low heat until it’s reduced to half.

Mix the dry rub ingredients.

If there’s a thin skin on the tenderloins, remove it.  Rub the pork with the olive oil.  Sprinkle and press the coffee rub into the meat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator overnight or at least several hours.

Prepare your grill for 500º F (260º C).  Sear the pork for one to two minutes per side.  Remove the meat and reduce the grill to 350º F to 375º F (177º C to 191º C).  Return the pork to the grill and cook with the lid on for about 10 minutes, turning twice (watch the temperature when you open the lid; it may go up).  

When the internal temperature reaches about 120º F (49º C), brush on most of the marmalade glaze, saving some (2-3 Tbsp) to apply later.  Continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 135º F (57º C).  

Remove, add the reserved glaze, cover with foil and let rest for 15-20 minutes.  Cut into 1/2-inch slices and serve hot, warm, or cold.

Shown are lychee and calamondin from Bea’s Knees Farm.  Calamondin, the orange fruit, is similar to kumquat, but it’s even more sour.  I like to eat kumquats, but calamondin are too sour for me.  I love kumquat marmalade, but I love calamondin marmalade even more.

Dry Milling

In coffee processing, dry milling (or parchment milling) follows wet milling (the collective steps from coffee cherry to dried parchment).  Dry milling is when the parchment skin, the husk, and the silver skin are removed from the bean.  The result is green coffee, and the beans are graded.

Our coffee is dry milled at the Holualoa Kona Coffee mill, who mills for many farms.

This video shows the parchment going up the elevator towards the huller.

On the right is the elevator which brings up the green beans, which then go through the grader.  The result is each tray contains a specific grade:  peaberry, extra fancy, fancy, number one, prime, triple X, and rubbish.

The green coffee comes from the grader above, down to the gravity table.  The heavier, better quality beans stay on the higher left side; the lighter, lower quality beans are on the right side.  The master miller Jason knows where to adjust the two boards that control which beans go in which of the three bins.

The 2018 Eruption — How were we affected?

The 2018 eruption was big, worldwide news for quite some time.   A number of people have asked whether we were impacted by the eruption.  For people who haven’t been to the Big Island, they might have thought we were at risk of lava damage or that it might not be safe to visit the Big Island.  Kona is on the west side, the opposite side of the island from where the flow was, almost as far away as you can get on the same island.

My last blog post talked about the strange year it has been for Kona coffee.  And at the end of this post I’ve excerpted a part of the newspaper article that talks about what might be attributable to the eruption.

View as seen from outside the Volcano House lodge.

We recently made a trip to Volcanoes National Park which was closed from mid-May till late-September.  This park is always fascinating to visit since it constantly changes, plus it’s beautiful.  I was curious how different, post-eruption, it would look in real life; photos often don’t quite capture broad nature scenes for me.

Unfortunately, many trails, roads, and features were closed, as I expected.   Just viewing the caldera as it is today, I didn’t think much looked particularly new or dramatic.  However, it was very disorienting and disconcerting for me.  The caldera looked familiar but so different.  I couldn’t place what exactly had changed.

The eruption changes that were most obvious were cracks in the road due to earthquakes. There were more than 80,000 earthquakes at the summit associated with the 2018 eruption.

My whole lifetime I’ve seen the defined Halema’uma’u crater inside the caldera.  We used to be able to walk on trails throughout the caldera and go to the crater inside the caldera.  Before, we could stand on a platform at Halema’uma’u’s edge and look directly down into it.  Later, when Halema’uma’u was active and had a lava lake, we would only be able to observe it from Jaggar Museum, now closed, on the caldera’s ledge.  And now I couldn’t determine where exactly the crater was or had been.

That night when I got home, I did my Internet research and looked at photos and videos to try and better appreciate what I had seen that day.   I found this recent 7-minute video from Volcanoes National Park best describes this year’s changes.  I’ve watched this video many times and feel compelled to share it.


Here is an excerpt that pertains to the volcano from the 11/1/18 West Hawaii Today article, “Yield and profits down, prices up after coffee season cut short”

Hampered harvest

Farmers and researchers named a number of factors that likely contributed to cutting the coffee season short — less rainfall between April and June, increased vog manipulating the amount of light at different times during the season and the availability of labor.

And while the connections aren’t always entirely clear, many in the industry tied these effects to the most recent eruption at the Kilauea volcano, which stretched from May to August.

It starts with the rain. Coffee typically flowers when there’s a dry period followed by significant rainfall. Andrea Kawabata, extension agent at UH-CTAHR’s West Hawaii location, said the major bloom period is triggered by such patterns between March and June.

“When we had the volcano going, we had a really dry stretch,” she said. “I think that could have contributed to our shortened season.”

Shriner believes elevated vog levels dictated light patterns at a crucial time in the season and impacted yield. She referred to a report from the U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center in Hilo, which documented a notable reduction in available photosynthetic radiation during the eruption.

Shriner said she believes the combination of less rain and less sun early in the year contributed to less production and the shorter season, which actually led to more sun at the wrong time after the vog cleared.


It’s been an unusual Kona coffee year

I hadn’t blogged about it yet, but our farm’s picking actually ended at the end of October.  Wow!  That’s early.  Usually picking can extend into January.  We’ve already done our strip picking and cleanup.  This is done to get all the fruit, including raisins (dried up cherry fruit) off the trees (and ideally, also off the ground) to help with the beetle problem.

This article from a month ago in West Hawaii Today addresses this year’s strange coffee season being cut short.  This has been such an unusual (and devastating, for those in the Puna district) year for the Big Island because of the big, long-lasting eruption.   Unlike the farms mentioned in the article, our farm’s yield is up from last year, even with 1/3 less trees contributing, because of the better care and attention the land is receiving.

On another note, I haven’t done one of these stump photo updates in a while.  I didn’t capture the same perspective, but this is the general area.  To me, the most obvious difference is the blue sky!!  The last three months or so the sky has been blue.  Here’s an article about giving thanks for clean air.