Coffee at Home

The Big Island’s COVID-19 count has stood at 81, with no patients remaining in isolation since May 29. All people, visitors and returning residents, arriving anywhere in the state of Hawaii have been subject to a mandatory, 14-day quarantine for a few months now. Even inter-island travelers have had to quarantine; this restriction ends Tuesday, June 16. A few days ago Governor Ige declared that quarantine of those entering Hawaii state, however, remains in place until July 31.

One month more. And then another month more. Who knew these restrictions, worldwide, in their various forms would have been possible to do? I think it has been important that most deadlines have been one or two months out versus, say, six months long from the start. These deadlines have been like intermediate milestones. If you’re trying to lose 40 pounds, it’s easier to think of losing five, then another five, etc. Not the best analogy, but it was the first relatable one that came to mind.

Many of us are staying at home more than before. Maybe you’re making more coffee at home versus drinking it at the office or cafe or getting take-out coffee. I thought it’d be good to share yet another article about storing coffee at home. A new word for me is hygroscopic. And here’s an article with ideas for what to do with spent coffee grounds. The domain name is practicalselfreliance. Self reliance, self sufficiency, or movement in that direction, seems to be “the thing” since this pandemic has struck. I keep hearing about people wanting to bake bread, plant edibles, sew, and generally make things. The other “thing” is returning to nature. On that note, I want to bring a little coffee nature to you. Thanks again to my friend, Will, who continues to experiment with his new phone’s camera. The flowers and bees are from the end of May, and the ripening/reddening fruit is from the outer part of our farm yesterday.


Evaluating what to share today, I realized the theme was filters. For many, the day might start with coffee and the news. And nowadays, news is COVID-19.

Face masks or face-coverings — what kinds are there, should we wear them, should we require wearing them, is it a political statement, is it dangerous for black or brown men, should young children wear them, should we wear them while exercising, how do you make masks, etc. I can’t believe the number of recent articles about masks. (And I often read them because somehow the titles often capture my interest). Here’s one that ties into coffee: “Coffee Filter Giant Melitta Making Millions of Face Masks.”

Some other articles that I’ve collected and wanted to share have to do with coffee and health. I know, it’s frustrating, because all of us have probably read that scientific studies show XYZ (e.g., coffee) is good for you, only to be told later that it isn’t, then a few years later, it’s the new healthy, wonder food. It’s frustrating because we want to do the right thing, but it’s hard to know what to believe. I like to read the articles, and I suspect that like many of you, the articles that stick with me are the ones that “prove” the conclusion I want to have or that serves my purposes. In all the books I like to read about thinking, biases, and decision-making, they keep citing studies that demonstrate how we humans tend to make assumptions and draw conclusions on scant proof.

With that caveat of sorts, here are two articles I found interesting:

And, because this post’s loose tie amongst the shared articles is filters … here’s one more in case you want to really nerd out on filters:

The article referred to TDS several times, and I didn’t see the acronym defined. Apparently, the acronym warrants its own article (nerd out, level 2):

After wading deep in the weeds, I’ll float up to a higher level with quotes that might actually be helpful in a larger sense:

There is an overwhelming amount of information available to us all on the web each day, not to mention what is shared with us by our family, friends, fans, and followers. This necessitates the need to filter through all that information and to decide for ourselves where to put our attention.

Simon Mainwaring

We do not experience things as they really are! We experience things only through a filter and that filter determines what information will enter our awareness and what will be rejected. If we change the filter (our belief system), then we automatically experience the world in a completely different way.

David Wolfe


I want to post something, but all I have are three tidbits to share this time.

When someone asked me what’s the most important thing for making good coffee, my opinion was to freshly grind the coffee. Burr grinders are the best. Many are expensive, that’s why I tried out an inexpensive hand grinder. I recently read this article about other improvised methods to grind coffee — this isn’t burr grinder quality though.

Tidbit #2: For those who are stocking up on coffee during sheltering because you’re unsure about the supply chain. Here’s another article about freezing coffee beans.

Tidbit #3: I read the COVID-19 daily updates from the Hawaii Dept. of Health. They have free infographics and posters available. “Languages featured are English with Hawaiian, Japanese, Tagalog, Ilocano, Korean, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Samoan, Vietnamese, Marshallese and Chuckese.”  Chuckese?? I also had to look up Ilocano.

Stay safe and healthy!

Big Joe’s Quarantini is the Bea’s Knees

A few months ago I challenged our good friend, Big Joe, based in Seattle, to create some coffee cocktails with our coffee. Within days he whipped up some great ones (recall the Kahlúa Pig Coffee Cocktail). He was going to tinker more and even write a blog post. But then there was work, COVID-19 shutdowns and sheltering, and the momentum was lost. I excerpted some of his inner thoughts from an email to me, which I share here with his permission:

“When I think of your coffee I think of strong coffee, and I don’t think of mixed drinks.  I want to think of a drink that does your coffee justice as well.

I feel excited and challenged to create cocktails that respect premium coffee and is not just some sickly sweet dessert drink that make the coffee irrelevant. One drink will be martini-esque — just pure cold vodka, a to-be-determined proportion of strong-brewed coffee, and maybe a fun rim of coffee grounds held on by a little surprise tang of lemon juice or a smooth kiss of maple syrup (just as glue on the rim to hold a few grounds).  The grounds are both a visual reminder that this is a serious coffee drink and they will provide the aromatics that a lot of modern cocktails add — something for the nose alone not necessarily “in” the drink.

And final thoughts.  The latest craze in speakeasy mixology is “chocolate bitters” — just a few drops added to unexpected drinks (the product is just highly concentrated chocolate essence and optional spices and natural bitter preservatives).  Imagine even something with whiskey, vermouth, pineapple juice AND THEN a few drops of chocolate bitters — I swear I’ve tasted four different drinks (two were mine) where chocolate bitters really made it a unique experience.  It is easy to find “chocolate bitters” in Seattle or Portland or online. There are also companies making “coffee bitters” to add that unique complex hint of coffee flavor molecules to other drinks.  (For people who like surprises of flavor, which is not everybody). 

Side note, I think that “new flavors” are a cooking trick that some people really like. That’s why there are food trends that fade away – they are exciting at first, but once the surprise factor is gone … the NEXT new flavor profile will cause the last trend to fade away for quite a while.  I don’t own chocolate bitters or coffee bitters, and I doubt many blog readers would want to go purchase a bottle to make a recipe.  I mention that because I would like to experiment with a strong drink that adds a carefully calculated bit of coffee just to the level of increasing the flavor complexity without tasting “like coffee” BUT to pull it off it may also need a little chocolate bitters.  I may or may not achieve this result, but I will  experiment with it …”

The martini recipe is 2 oz coffee and 2 oz vodka poured over ice. Stirred not shaken. Then strained into coffee-rimmed martini glass. Coffee is held on by lemon juice or maple syrup. One plate with maple syrup,  one plate with coffee grounds. 

Enjoy your Bea’s Knees quarantini. Thanks, Big Joe!

Uncharted Territory

Coronavirus, COVID-19 … it is alarming and consuming all of our attention, worldwide. (I had published this, and already have to update it). On March 21 Governor Ige mandated that effective 3/26, anyone, resident or visitor, flying into Hawaii must self-quarantine for 14 days. Today, March 23, he proclaimed that all persons in the state must stay at their home or place of residence, effective until April 30. There are exceptions for essential businesses and operations. My interpretation is coffee farming and operations can still continue. Just a week ago, life on the islands was going the way the rest of the country was rapidly moving, without yet being mandated: bars should be closed; restaurants should be open just for takeout and delivery; state parks were closed or closing; social gatherings should be limited to ten people.

Hawaii might have it easier than other states because of its warmer climate. It seems that COVID-19 might be slowed, but not stopped, with warmer weather. If you have access to the New York Times, you can read, “Warmer Weather May Slow, but Not Halt, Coronavirus.” If you can’t read it, here at least is the study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to which they refer, “Will Coronavirus Pandemic Diminish by Summer?

Last week, March 15, Californians aged 65+, that includes Bea, were directed to stay isolated at home. She can always eat off Bea’s bounty (I recounted the edibles she was growing a year ago in this post). Less than a week after that directive, all Californians were told to shelter in place. One evening my brother, who lives in San Francisco, went to three stores and was unable to find pasta or coffee, only decaf. (He wasn’t looking for toilet paper).

I read that coffee futures have gone up since there’s some uncertainty about the international coffee supply chain. This isn’t the original article I read, but something I recently found when searching, “Even coffee supplies under threat amid global transport woes.

Don’t forget there are domestic sources for coffee — in Hawaii and now California. Bea’s Knees coffee is much more affordable than what I recently saw announced on Instagram, coffee from The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA. $75 for five ounces; that’s $225 for less than a pound. More details were on the Frinj site. My friend in Carlsbad who’s in the floral business gave me a little inside scoop on Ecke and Mellano as “credible names in the international floral agriculture industry & Frazee is a big name in So. Cal.” And see this blog post, if you want to see what I wrote earlier about California coffee.

For our small business, so far it is actually pretty much business as usual. No one’s sick or knows anyone who’s sick, and we’re taking the precautions we can. Coffee is still roasted, shipped, and delivered according to schedule. The majority of our customers are domestic. Customers are adjusting their orders since they plan to be working from home and staying home more than usual. We have the green beans, no risk there. Will our people stay healthy and will this business be allowed to continue to work, roast, and package? Will the USPS and FedEx infrastructure still be able to deliver as usual?

The coffee trees … they’ll be fine. They just grow and do their thing for the next months. Harvest is still months away. If the tree maintenance (pruning, fertilizing, etc.) can’t be done as well as usual due to personnel downtime for illness or not being allowed to work, that’s OK. Harvest time might be impacted. We all know the future is uncharted territory. We’ll worry about that later.

Are there moments, even now, when you know you are fine? Or with these unfamiliar situations, you even see a silver lining? A pulling together and heightened appreciation for your loved ones? Let’s try not to let our anxiety about the future take over our present lives. Let’s all try to take deep, nourishing breaths and handle what comes our way with as much grace as we can possibly muster. We, the whole word, really are in this altogether.

Real life isn’t always going to be perfect or go our way, but the recurring acknowledgement of what is working in our lives can help us not only to survive but surmount our difficulties.

Sarah Ban Breathnach