Bea’s dog, cherimoya, and ag crime enforcement

This will be another post with topics all over the map. I would think that it’s odd enough that it can’t be generated by Artificial Intelligence, though I may be wrong.

I have been visiting Bea, so first I must share some gratuitous shots of her dog. Bea always dislikes it when people (the vet, the groomer, whoever) refer to her as the dog’s mom, as if she birthed the pup. It does seem strange to have a dog sister. The pup has a yin-yang pattern on one side, and her tail is half black, half white. I saw this shot one day, but of course, pup moved when I stuck my phone at her. But I got it on another day, AND she even looked at me.

Bea is more accepting of people referring to her plants (vs. a dog) as her babies. She has at least five cherimoya trees in her Garden of Bea’s Bounty. The more mature ones have been heavily pruned. Bea is always conscientious about keeping her plants on her side of the fences. Four of the trees have been flowering, so I’ve been pollinating. Even here in So Cal where there will be many months with no rain, I have to take mosquito precautions (long pants, long sleeves). There’s no rain, but Bea waters. (She did let me remove bromeliads, i.e., mosquito breeders. I filled two large compost bins.) I just step outside, and I can pollinate. I don’t have to walk down into the rocky coffee land, and I don’t have rain as an excuse not to do it. Our cherimoya in Kona isn’t mature enough yet to be flowering, but I’ve been toying with pollinating the rollinia (in the same annona genus as cherimoya). The appropriate times, though, are mosquito times.

Anyway, here I was just following Bea’s instructions, but then I had some questions and did some light web searching. I found this great article about cherimoya pollination from a presentation done for the California Rare Fruit Growers (Bea’s a lifetime member). In the document it says, “When the flowers first open up at the female stage, you have about 24 hrs before it becomes a male flower. The male stage lasts only about 1 hr to 1 ½ hr …” When I read that and I see these ephemeral male flowers, I feel like I HAVE to do something about it, like collect pollen. And then I have to be a bee/Bea and pollinate. I imagine months later Mom will report to me about MY cherimoya babies.

In coffee news, there were a few media blips highlighting the problems with enforcing the change to Hawaii’s coffee labeling laws. No big surprise there! Here’s the article in audio and text, “Inspector shortage could make new coffee labeling laws a challenge to enforce” from Hawai’i Public Radio.

And speaking of enforcement, a month ago I shared about the agricultural theft that was happening at Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden. Someone had, I guess, quickly acted and put up cameras in the garden. Just a few weeks ago, a perp got caught on camera, large tool in hands, digging, and he looked right at the camera. Yay! That’s something. I experienced a certain sense of satisfaction to have an image of who this individual is, what he was wearing, what he was doing. I guess it’s probably similar to what homeowners feel when they catch their package thief on video. I believe law enforcement is overwhelmed with videos of thefts and thieves. In this case, I don’t yet know more, e.g., if he was apprehended. We can hope.

Last news tidbit … UH was spotted in Kailua with a cattle egret. I have a dog as a sister. But Bea has a cow as a brother. Ha ha! Just kidding, Uncle Harold (UH)!

Articles about coffee and health

I always find studies and articles about health and coffee to be interesting. I hold them lightly, since if you’re old enough, you’ve experienced changing scientific opinions, e.g., eggs are bad for you, eggs are good for you; low fat is healthier; whole fat is better; coffee is bad, coffee is good.

This article from Perfect Daily Grind addresses coffee and cholesterol. Ever heard of cafestol and kahweol? They’re two compounds found in coffee oils, and according to research, can raise cholesterol levels.  The article addresses different brewing methods that affect the amount of oils extracted.

This other article summarizes “new” studies tying heart health to coffee. The problem is I save interesting articles for so long, this is now two-year-old info. In case it’s interesting to you to explore further, “Three new studies show excellent heart health news for coffee drinkers.” This was the part that interested me, “The three studies all culled data from the UK Biobank, a large-scale database with information from more than half a million participants who have received follow-ups for at least 10 years.”

On another topic, about a year ago there was a university study done “for the purpose of regulating cognitive arousal and enhancing the performance states. In two proposed experiments, subjects are asked to perform a working memory experiment called n-back tasks. Next, we incorporate listening to different types of music, drinking coffee, and smelling perfume as safe actuators.” Here’s a user-friendly blog description of the study, by the maker of the wearable technology in the study, “How music and coffee affect brain function and performance.” Keep in mind, it shares info about the study, but is also promoting its equipment. The link to the published study is at the end.

Maybe you’re one of those who don’t drink caffeinated beverages at all because they affect you negatively. This article was news to me: growing coffee that’s naturally decaffeinated. “Researchers in Brazil are entering a decisive stage in a decades-long study designed to produce coffee plants with seeds that have little to no caffeine.” I always thought coffee had to be processed to remove caffeine. Decades ago, and very occasionally now, I would/will drink decaffeinated coffee for whatever reason. But it just isn’t worth it to me to sacrifice delicious coffee flavors. I’d rather drink a different hot beverage, usually an herbal tea, that doesn’t have caffeine.

One more article to share, relating to processing coffee: What is koji fermented coffee? It’s the mold used in Japan to make, e.g., sake, miso, and other products. The article talked about experimentation that started with using koji with green coffee, but it gave the coffee savory umami flavors. They then started using it with coffee cherries, earlier in the coffee processing cycle. My end impression was that koji could raise a coffee’s score, but there’s a lot of expense and effort involved in maybe raising a coffee two points. It was still an interesting article, and I’m glad someone experimented and shared their experience.

Studying coffee at university; social justice; coffee in a tube

This week I’m just passing along more info I found interesting, a lot of it coming from Perfect Daily Grind. First, though, friends shared news about the University of California Davis Coffee Center which opened in early May.

The Coffee Center is a center of excellence in the UC Davis College of Engineering and the first academic research and teaching facility in the U.S. entirely dedicated to the study of coffee.  …

While coffee is the latest addition to UC Davis’ menu of expertise, which includes wine, beer and tea, the center has been years in the making.

I hadn’t realized there were all these disciplines there! It could be interesting to do a deep dive into any of those beverages. But I’m fairly certain it’s too deep for me; I’ll snorkel, thank you. But this article about what specialty coffee can learn from winemaking shows that there’s opportunity for cross-pollination. Another article about coffee tasting flights also has alcoholic beverage ties. I’ve always enjoyed tasting flights of wine and beer, and also testing out the effect of drinking vessels for the beverage, e.g., different shaped wine glasses. Those kinds of activities pique my curiosity, sometimes irresistible for me.

Do specialty coffee consumers actually want to be more connected to farmers? I think most of our customers do want to be connected to our farm, Hawai’i, Kona’s coffee history, the immigrant and cultural melting-pot story, our family history, and our inheriting this and trying to carry it on somehow, not knowing where it’ll ultimately go. It’s our very personal journey. Some of our customers might “just” enjoy trusted single-origin specialty coffee. We aren’t the type of farmers discussed in the article, the ones in third- or developing-world countries trying to make a living from farming. But my great-grandparents and grandparents were. It’s again those type of farmers being considered in this other article asking whether the size of a coffee farm should influence the price roasters pay. These are social justice type coffee articles.

I’ll end with one more article of a new coffee product that I thought was intriguing: instant coffee paste in a tube! I’m curious! I need to taste that. It wouldn’t be for my daily coffee, but I can imagine situations (backpacking, hiking, cross-country skiing) where that could be very convenient and indulgent. It was developed by a Switzerland-based startup. The tube delivery mechanism reminds me of Norwegian/Scandinavian kaviar, smoked cod roe, in what we consider toothpaste tubes. I found this funny blog entry, Tubes of Food, from 2010, which still seems pretty relevant to me.

Bea is shutting down her knees farm

April Fools! The funny thing about this is that years ago we used 99designs to get our logo designed. Different designers around the world submitted their ideas after reading the info about our company. In my description I explained that Bea is my mother, and that “bee’s knees” is an expression, etc. Not all the designers were native English speakers, and some had not mastered proximity, the principle of grouping related items together. I had some fancy designs and multiple renditions for:

Knees Farm

I always suspected that those designers probably thought the most important part to emphasize pertained to my mom. Mom is paramount. And she is. But she does not have a knee farm.

The Hawai’i State Bill HB2298 that I’ve been writing about the past two weeks will be in front of the Judiciary tomorrow. I did my part again, and submitted testimony. This is the last committee hearing before it goes to joint House-Senate Conference. The legislative process feels like a dreadmill to me.

I had written about “showing up” last week, and I think of it in the broader sense that “one has to participate.” I had submitted the claim form to get benefits in the settlements of a class action lawsuit pertaining to labeling of Kona coffee. We’ve received several checks over the years, and some were bigger than I thought they’d be, and received one last week, too. Every little bit helps in this business. The business hasn’t gone the way we envisioned it would, not that we ever thought we’d be making a hefty profit.

On the coffee front, we have a nice round of coffee flowers again, the result from when we got 3/4″ of rain over a week ago. Last week I read about Roastpic, a new app-based image analysis tool for coffee quality control. Maybe I’ll have to download it when it’s available in two weeks and try out the free version, just to see.

Since I’m talking about tech in the coffee world, I’ll also share this: digital beverage printing. Have any of you been served any digitally printed latte art? I haven’t yet seen it; the Big Island is pretty rural, though. I really like the in-the-moment, handmade latte art. I was recently served a very sad looking heart by a well-meaning, young barista. She said she practices every chance she gets, but I suspect that cafe doesn’t get a lot of business. But I’d rather have that any day than a perfectly printed commercial ad or logo.

Earthquakes herald the dragon year

Happy Year of the Dragon! I’m sharing my Mauna Loa photo one more time here, since this is the start of dragon year.

This was taken on my iPhone XS on 11/29/22. A day or two later a friend asked for one or two eruption photos to share with her friend. Almost two weeks later my friend shared that she had also showed the photos to Reverend Jiko at Daifukuji, and Reverend Jiko saw a dragon. Sure enough! I didn’t even see it when I took the photo, or when I looked at the photo. It took others to help me see.

Jumping forward to now … here are a few photos of the cherry blossoms at Daifukuji taken yesterday, 2/9/24. The blossoms’ ephemeral beauty represent the fleeting, impermanent nature of life.

This was just about a half an hour before the 10:06 am earthquake. The group that cleans the temple and grounds on Friday were gathered in the social hall, about to enjoy late morning snacks together. A big shake happened. Then another one, lasting longer.

The USGS information statement said, “a magnitude-5.7 earthquake occurred 2 km (1.25 mi) southwest of Pāhala on the Island of Hawaiʻi at a depth of 37 km (23 mi) below sea level. The earthquake had no apparent impact on either Mauna Loa or Kīlauea volcanoes. Numerous aftershocks have been felt and are expected to continue. This earthquake is likely associated with lithospheric flexure caused by the weight of the Hawaiian Islands on the oceanic lithosphere. “

It was longer than a “usual earthquake” and a little stronger, but nothing alarming. Smaller ones centered closer by can feel similarly. No known damage at the temple or at home/farm. Just a few hanging picture frames were a bit skewed. That’s not to say there wasn’t damage elsewhere, closer to the epicenter. It seems that damage was minimal, however.

I wish you all good dragon power this year!