Disclosure: Pull & Pour received coffee samples for this post, however, as always, all opinions are 100% my own.
My experience with Hawaiian coffee to date has been lackluster at best. It began years ago with a Starbucks Reserve coffee from Kona Island that promised some amazing flavor notes, but instead was burnt and dull. From there most Hawaiian coffee I’ve tried has been roasted way too dark for my preference and have all seemed a bit flat (and expensive). For this reason, I was extremely excited to discover Kona Roasted, a company that partners with different farms from all over the Hawaiian islands. As they mention on their FAQ page: “to ensure the complexity of our Hawaiian Coffee can be distinguished, most offerings will be a light to medium roast.”1
They recently sent me six of their current coffees, each named after the farmer who grew it. Each coffee was unique, complex and delicious. It was hands down the best, most complex (and best roasted) Hawaiian coffee I have tried to date. While I enjoyed the unique attributes of each coffee, the naturally processed Ka’u coffee stood out as my favorite.
The coffee began with a rich fragrance of dark chocolate and almonds. After brewing, I tasted a strong lemon citrus and dark chocolate initially. As the coffee cooled it became much sweeter and the fruit/berry notes came more to the surface. I found the sweet spot (pun intended) came about 10 minutes after brew when the coffee was just above room temperature. The sweetness and fruit notes were at the peak, but the chocolatey smooth and silky body were still present. It was a wonderful combination. The coffee had some dominate flavor notes, but also many less prominent flavor undertones that came and went throughout each sip and as the coffee cooled.
The acidity was strong at the front, but also very balanced. The aftertaste lingered with the notes of citrus. The coffee translated to drip and pressure brew methods.
The Bottom Line
Ka’u Natural was unique because while it had some of the attributes I expected in a naturally processed coffee (bright, fruit notes), it also had the chocolatey, silky richness I’d expect in a high quality Central American coffee. It was a wonderful mixture of attributes that led to a delicious and approachable cup that would appeal to a broad audience of coffee lovers.
Even better, Kona Roasted offers some of the most affordable Hawaiian coffee I have found. Bags range from $19 to $36, which while more expensive than most specialty coffee is still much more affordable than other Hawaiian coffees I have found, which can range from $50-100 per bag.