A light dusting of Kona snow

The area, and especially South Kona, is now starting to display Kona snow, pretty much not seen since mid-December. February was pretty dry, so with the decent rainfall almost two weeks ago, coffee trees are blossoming again. It’s a nice sight to see. We’ve only received a little over an inch cumulative, so our blossoming is light. I saw some heavy blossoming in South Kona.

This week, I’m not writing much, mostly just sharing some articles about a few international coffee recipes/creations.

What is flash brew coffee? also known as Japanese iced coffee. Which term sounds more exciting and trendy? It’s not hard. I wanted to brew it and share my experience, but I didn’t get around to it yet. I almost always prefer my coffee hot.

I was just reviewing the article again, and was enticed to click through to the article about Indonesia’s iced coffee revolution. The word “revolution” piqued my curiosity. I skimmed it, but it wasn’t that revolutionary or exciting to me, mostly about online delivery, apps, etc. But this little part was interesting, “Some kiosks mix the coffee with avocado …” I’ve had avocado shakes before, but never an avocado coffee. I did quickly find this simple recipe.

We have no shortage of avocados. We have a sad volunteer avocado tree whose sorry, mostly leafless, occasionally hacked-at-vs-pruned, state is even more apparent now that our neighbor ‘ulu co-op removed all their big trees. We picked some of the round avocados and carried them up, accidentally dropping the hard balls multiple times (now apparent as dark black bruises). They aren’t bad, but they aren’t great, so that tree is going to come down. We still have our neighbor’s avocados that hang over our property that taste better, and we have two young avocado trees that will hopefully bear fruit in the next year or so.

I’ve written about Scandinavian egg coffee about a year ago. Here are more egg coffee recipes from various regions of the world.

Another article, also from homegrounds, is for Mexican coffee recipes. I’m a fan of spiced drinks, so the cinnamon stick, star anise, citrus peel, cloves, caught my interest. (I like recipes that have chocolate in them, too. I do love hot chocolate made with Ibarra chocolate para mesa hexagonal tablets.) If I remember correctly, Bea craved cinnamon when she was pregnant with me. Maybe that’s why I’ve loved cinnamon my whole life.

The secret of happiness is variety, but the secret of variety, like the secret of all spices, is knowing when to use it.

Daniel Gilbert

Break time is pau. Get back to the grind.

Have you ever spent New Year’s or 4th of July in Hawai’i? The firework activity leading up to, during, and after these events is notable. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, just looking out from our lānai we could see (illegal) aerial fireworks in the sky all over, near and far. Where the terrain blocked our sky view, we could see light bursts like lightning in the distance. And then there are the big boom fireworks, which seem to have no purpose other than terrifying and annoying animals and people.

Permitted fireworks are allowed from 9pm New Year’s Eve to 1am New Year’s Day. Enforcement is difficult and pretty much isn’t done. You probably have the same problem where you are if you have a firework problem, and firework antics seem to have picked up during the pandemic. Of course, someone nearby fired off a few big boomers at 2:45am just this past Sunday morning, a week after New Year’s.

Holiday time shenanigans over? Are we starting the new year fo’ real now?

After a dry period, we received a little bit of rain for a short while last night. Better than nothing. At about 0.3 inches, it was more than we received all November. This won’t result in any flowering. The previous boom of coffee flowers have been gone a while now. And the little nubs left behind, the carpels, are busy growing into fruit. This is an interesting article about coffee flowering.

Rain is on my mind since we will be stumping a block of trees in the next month, as part of our annual block stumping process. We don’t want to do it when the trees are stressed (dry), and we really want rain afterwards.

This winter’s mornings seem to be a bit warmer than last year’s. This is purely subjective and based on memory. Last year I remember more mornings after Thanksgiving that were in the upper 50’s (56-59). This year there have been very few, and many dawns it’s about 62-64.

Today I’ll leave you with a few links to coffee grinders. Equipment comparisons and “best of” lists often come out before the holidays, timed with our national momentum to shop. A term fairly new for me is prosumer, an amateur who purchases equipment with quality or features suitable for professional use.

First, a link about cleaning and maintaining your grinder. It’s important to care for your equipment. It’s much easier to clean your grinder every week (or few weeks), rather than deal with years of caked on, oily crud.

When we had a large autograph tree removed by a professional tree service, I was very impressed with how well he maintained his equipment. In this case, I’m thinking of the chipper they had. [I looked carefully because we were once thinking of forming a hui (owner coop) with a friend and a few others for a big wood chipper.] I thought his chipper was new, but it was several years old, and he said he just cleaned it after each use. That’s the kind of pro you want to hire.

OK, the grinder links:

By the way, I get absolutely no financial benefit by sharing any links or info. This might not be the best info out there, and some of the sites I link to are more commercial than others (I apologize for that). I just provide the links for your info and convenience.

Are you back to entertaining? We’ve retracted.

It’s the fall season, the busy coffee picking season, the weeks before we finish processing some of this season’s harvest. It had been fun to celebrate by having a little coffee tasting, brunch gathering. Had been, pre-COVID.

In the late spring going into summer, there was a feeling of optimism as activities opened up, tourists returned, and people felt more comfortable going about and also traveling. Then came Delta and the general optimism made a U-turn. It seemed so sudden that we heard about impending ICU bed shortages, oxygen supply concerns (there are additional transport issues and process delays that the mainland states don’t have), and knowing that our COVID infections, hospitalizations, and death rates were all higher than ever before.

Back in August Governor Ige asked for a travel pause (both of tourists and of residents going to the mainland), and apparently a number of people have taken heed of his request. Plus, September is a slower, quieter time travel-wise anyway.

We only have 24 ICU beds on this island for a population of about 200,000. Our state has one of the nation’s lowest ICU bed per capita ratio (I think it’s second worst), but our rural island’s is lower than the state’s ratio. We have been requiring overflow ICU beds for a few weeks now (around 5-8 overflow). Not all of those are for COVID patients, but usually well over half are. And I’ve frequently been seeing that over half of those people were on ventilators.

From the beginning of this 9/8/21 West Hawaii Today article …

With little fanfare, Gov. David Ige on Sept. 1 signed an executive order that releases Hawaii’s health care workers and facilities from civil liability during the COVID-19 crisis.

West Hawaii Today, “Order provides staff, facilities protection from civil liability amid COVID crisis”

I’ve gone through shock, fear, anxiety, and anger, and by now it feels somewhat normalized, like our new state of affairs probably through October. So, no entertaining at this household. We’ve returned to a cautious, reserved way of living. It’s similar to this time last year, but it IS more open. Travel is possible. School is in session, in-person. Restaurants and businesses, that have survived, are still open. There aren’t general household item shortages.

When I started this post, I knew I wanted to share an article about scaling up manual brewing methods. But I know that we’re not scaling up right now, and all the above tumbled out. I leave you with a few articles about manual brewing methods.

A brief history of manual brewing methods

Drip (e.g., pour over) vs. immersion (e.g., French press) brewing

And, the article that motivated this post, the one I needed years ago, “A guide to brewing larger volumes of coffee at home.” We have been doing individual pour overs for years, but that doesn’t scale. And we weren’t as satisfied with the batch machine brewer we used to use. We wanted better quality. Using the Chemex, for a volume larger than an individual cup needed tweaks.

On the subject of coffee brewing, UH (Uncle Harold) opines, “IMHO, coffee tastes most flavorful and aromatic when freshly roasted ground coffee is mixed with boiled water. This kind of crude procedure is cumbersome when modern convenient devices are available.

Kona coffee has a unique character.  It has been produced by total love and dedication from early preparation, harvesting, and to roasting. Processes such as weed control, tree nourishment, and selective picking of ripe berries impact final quality. Marketing gimmicks do not produce good coffee.  This is UH’s basic premise.”

Enjoy your cuppa. Hopefully, you can home brew a few quality cuppas for your friends, too.

Coffee processing styles; cleaning your home brewing equipment

Our trees are showing more red again, having reddened in the three weeks since the last big picking. This week the crew will be out here again.

This article describes some of the other coffee processing styles and terminology that apply to actions done after picking. According to the terminology used in the article, our coffee is triple washed since we float the cherry prior to pulping and also soak (short ferment) after pulping.

That’s a bit detailed for your average person who just enjoys a good cuppa. I’ll leave you with another link that’s more practical, cleaning your home brewing equipment. It talks about some of the urban myths about cleaning your brewing stuff.

When I was in college and always used a moka pot, I had a friend from Italy who insisted I not clean it. He said I’d destroy the mushrooms that develop in it and give the coffee its flavor. I think mushrooms must have been a translation artifact.

Side note paragraph: I have noticed just in the past year, Kona coffee with mushrooms. One example is this 100% Kona coffee from Malama Mushrooms. I’ve never tried it. There’s a good article about Hawaii and mushrooms in Hana Hou, the in-flight magazine from Hawaiian Airlines. I stumbled on that after watching the fascinating Fantastic Fungi documentary on Netflix. With all this rain, I was thinking maybe we have to also (intentionally) grow mushrooms.

Anyway, this same friend, fluent in both Italian and French, told me he saw a log in his backyard in New Jersey. When I was unimpressed and asked more questions, we eventually determined he thought a log was a loir (French word), from the English expression “sleep like a log” and the French expression “dormir comme un loir.” However, a log is not a loir. I guess a loir is a dormouse. I don’t even know what a dormouse is. But apparently there might have been one in a New Jersey backyard. Here in Hawaii we have mongooses. And our cat recently excitedly chased and cornered one. It’s her first mongoose encounter, to our knowledge.

[9/14 addendum: Several of you have asked the outcome. I didn’t let the cat continue the hunt. I tried to show the mongoose the door out of the courtyard, but instead it ran into a nearby 3-sided area (worse!) and it panicked and even jumped and ran sideways on the wall. I just left it to its own devices to escape/leave at its leisure, and no one has seen it again.]

Hang loose, mongoose.

Salt egg coffee

Coffee, salt, and a love story

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.