Hau’oli Kupulau! (Happy Springtime!)

Aloha!  Spring has finally sprung.  Hard to believe that it is April already!  This morning in the pouring rain, Isla decided to run off to her favorite hole digging spot.  When I found her tail deep and covered in mud it brought back memories of her and I on the Kona Mountain Coffee farm.  When she was a “farm dog” we taught her to dig holes to help us plant the coffee trees and other things around the garden.  However that idea has since backfired.  Especially in the spring Isla gets “digging fever”..  Image

 

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I will never forget the time she dug up a huge section of the garden that was all ginger and ‘olena (turmeric) root!  Ugh…  Speaking of o’lena, I have been working on a tea recipe to help with both inflammation and sleep.  ‘Olena or turmeric is a beautiful golden orange root that is in the ginger family.  It has been used for thousands of years in curries and also medicinally.  Here are a few of ‘olena’s many health benefits:

- It is an antioxidant that reduces free radicals in the body.

- ‘Olena is great at reducing inflammation thus helps reduce pain in the body.

- It can also help moderate insulin levels and improve glucose control.  

- It invigorates and improves blood circulation.  

 

But hey, everything is better with Kona coffee right?!  So I decided to add a little bit of cold brewed 100% Kona Coffee from KMC, the Private Reserve Dark Roast to be exact, and the result was delicious!  It’s a savory yet sweet and spicy spring time drink taken from the Indonesian Sarabba recipe.  Try it iced in the afternoons and at night, leave out the coffee for a soothing bedtime treat.  

 

Ingredients:

- 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk

- 2 teaspoons of ground dried turmeric

- 1 teaspoon cinnamon

- 1/2 teaspoon cardamon

- 2 slices of fresh ginger

- 1 Tbs of Honey  (Add more or less depending of how sweet you like it.  I added a little more once I put the coffee concentrate in it.  Also try to use a creamy white honey like the kiawe white honey.  However, any kind will work!)

- 3 oz of cold brewed Kona Coffee concentrate.  (If you don’t have any concentrate handy, just brew a pot of very strong coffee and use that)  

 

Put everything except for the coffee in a pot and simmer on low for about 15 minutes stirring it constantly.  The trick is to not burn the milk..  Add the coffee at the end or leave it out.  I stored mine in a mason jar after it cooled in the fridge.  Enjoy and happy digging!  Aloha :)

Native?

We all know by now that coffee grows in Hawaii.  However it is not native to the Hawaiian islands.  After reading an article in the New York Times about a man in Oahu who is restoring a piece of land back to its native state (before Captain Cook arrived) by planting native trees and plants and destroying invasive ones, I got inspired to do some research.  According to Wikipedia, “a native plant is a term to describe plants endemic or naturalized to a given area in geologic time.  This includes plants that have developed, occur naturally, or existed for many years in an area.  In the US a plant is often deemed native if it was present before colonization.”

Even the state tree, the Kukui, is not a native tree.  It is a polynesian import.  Trees like the Kukui and Albizia squeeze out the declining native species such as the Koa, Ohia, and Lama trees.  If you have been to Hawaii or live here then you certainly hear about Koa trees quite a bit.  But do you really know what it is?  I thought I’d dig a little deeper and do some investigation on this native Hawaiian tree.  

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The koa tree, or Acacia koa is the largest native tree in the Hawaiian islands reaching the heights of about 115 feet.  It actually does not grow naturally anywhere else in the world!  The declining number of koa forests actually began about 150 years ago with the introduction of cattle ranches to the islands.  Because the Acacia koa is a member of the legume or bean family, Fabaceae, the seeds of the trees were like candy to the cattle.  This prevented reforestation from happening.  Commercially, koa wood is one of the most expensive woods in the world, and almost all of the present day commercial harvesting is done on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Currently, logging of the trees is prohibited on state owned land.  So the koa wood must be harvested from a fallen tree or a one that is about to fall.  

In early Hawaii, the koa tree was the most valuable tree.  It was used for building houses, tools, paddles, ceremonial poles, short surfboards, and much more.  However the most important use of koa wood for the early Hawaiians was making canoes (wa’a).  Speaking from experience, paddling a koa canoe is truly an amazing experience.  You can feel the mana or the spirit of the tree and of those that built it by just sitting in one.  I highly recommend it.  

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Aloha!  

 

 Happy New Year!  While doing some research I came across a quote by Vincent Van Gogh and thought it would be fitting as we say Aloha ‘Oe (farewell) to this holiday season.  “To do good work one must eat well, be well housed, have one’s fling from time to time, smoke one’s pipe, and drink one’s coffee in peace.”  

As you know by now, coffee is a great passion of mine.  This quote reminded me how much I enjoy the morning ritual of making and drinking my coffee.  It is the perfect way to start the day…  a nice cup of Kona coffee and a few moments of peace before we step out into the wild and crazy world.  ;)  

Recently my preferred method of brewing coffee at home has changed.  The french press was my favorite for so long..  but today it is the “pour over” that has my heart.  

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A pour over is a cone shaped funnel that you line with a paper filter.  Hario makes a great product called the V60 coffee dripper, this is what I use.  They are available in our stores.  The V60s are made out of plastic or glass and range from about $7 to about $20.  When using the pour over process the grind of the coffee beans is pretty crucial.  If the beans are too coarse then the water will flow through too quickly leaving you with a watered down cup of coffee.  However, if the grind is too fine the water will not flow through, kind of like mud.  It is a bit of an experiment getting the perfect grind.  But, using freshly ground coffee is essential to a great cup of coffee.  

If you want to get fancy and scientific, pick up a digital scale.  They are used for measuring the water to coffee ratio.  A rule of thumb is that you want 16:1, water to ground coffee.  Once you master the ratio, this will help you consistently make the same perfect cup of coffee.  The standard water temperature for brewing coffee is 92-96C (197.6-204.8F).  An easy way to find the perfect temperature is to is to let your kettle boil (regular or electric) then let it sit for 30 seconds, and walaa!  

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Ok so here is what you do:

- Place a single cone shaped filter in the dripper.  Place it on top of your mug then set it on top of the digital scale.  Tare the scale so the reading is at zero.

- Pour enough water in it to completely wet the filter.

- Add 2 tablespoons of freshly ground coffee to the filter.  My favorite for this is our 100% Kona Private Reserve Medium Roast.  

- Pour about 1/4 cup of water over the grinds in a circular motion making sure to get all the coffee wet.  Let it sit for 30 seconds.  

- Next slowly and carefully pour the rest of the water in a circular motion.  It should take about two and a half minutes for the water to drip through.  If it takes longer, try a coarser grind.  If it pours through too quick, then you need a finer grind.  

- When your digital scale reads 340 grams or 12 ounces stop pouring the water and allow the brew to finish dripping.  (This is if you are using a 12 ounce mug).

It may sound complicated but once you figure it out it becomes quick and easy.  The final product will be worth the experimenting and can become the perfect “morning ritual”.  A great way to start the day in peace with a perfect cup of joe…  

A White Hawaiian Christmas…

Aloha!  I can’t believe that there are only eight days left until Christmas.  What a busy yet magical time of year…  Inspired by Martha Stewart, I was trying to come up with a chocolate recipe that I could make at home and give as gifts.  The only requirements were that it has to incorporate Kona coffee and have a little “taste of Hawaii”.  Here is what I came up with:

White Hawaiian Christmas Bark”

What you need:

  • Cooking spray
  • White Chocolate, broken into pieces.  You can also use dark, bittersweet, or milk chocolate.
  • Finely ground 100% Kona Coffee.  I am using Kona Mountain Coffee’s Peaberry Dark Roast.  I chose this because of the rich yet smooth flavor of the dark roasted Peaberry.  You will need about 1/2 a cup of the grinds. 
  • Shredded coconut.
  • Diced macadamia nuts.

What to do:

  1. Coat a 9-by-13 inched baking sheet with cooking spray and line with parchment paper.  Let the paper hang over the ends of the baking sheet.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or a heat proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Stir continuously.  
  3. Once the chocolate is melted, add in the finely ground Kona coffee and continue to stir.  
  4. Pour into a the baking sheet and spread in an even layer.  
  5. Immediately sprinkle the shredded coconut and macadamia nuts.  
  6. Refrigerate until firm or for about an hour.  Peel off the parchment and break the bark into pieces.

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Waalaaa!  A delicious and easy homemade gift that is sure to be a hit.  The bark can be refrigerated for about three days.  You can place the bark in a nice Christmas tin or a decorative plastic bag tied with a festive bow.  Feel free to use your imagination for the toppings.  I also made a dark chocolate mint bark that was equally delicious.  Have fun and remember… Santa Claus is watching!  ;)

 

 

Wintertime in Hawaii…

People who haven’t spent much time in Hawaii might have a hard time understanding the beauty of a Hawaiian winter.  To them, Hawaii might seem to be “the same” year round.  This is far from true.  With the onset of late fall and winter comes crisp skies, big surf, whales, cooler nights, and the excitement of the holiday season.  

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For me, the “season” actually starts in October with the IronMan triathlon.  This kind of gets the momentum going, so to speak.  Next is Halloween and by then the farm is in full picking/processing mode.  The beginning of November brings the famous Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, with a week full of fun.  Thanksgiving follows… a time to show our gratitude with family and friends.  

Now, the fun really begins, the countdown to Christmas!  This is where we are now!  In retail this is a crazy, fast, yet exciting time of year. We at Kona Mountain Coffee are busy roasting coffee, making chocolate, and shipping out packages!  

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However, through all the frenzy, it is important to remember to stop and notice the beauty that this season brings.  I guess you could consider this post a reminder to take a moment each day to check out the waves, watch the sunset, take a nice walk breathing in the cooler air, and just be grateful.  Aloha.  

Chocolate in Hawaii

Aloha and happy December!  Or as we say in Hawaii, Hau’oli Kekemapa!  As promised here is the third installment of the series of blogs all about chocolate.  (I will keep it short).  ;) 

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Hawaii is the only place in the United States with commercial cacao production.  The largest grower in the islands is Dole Food Company.  They have about 13,000 trees on approximately twenty acres in Waialua on Oahu’s North Shore.  Where there used to be dole pineapples planted, you now find cacao trees.  What is very interesting to me is that the chocolate produced from these fields has a very subtle yet complex flavor of pineapple.  In our Kona visitors center, we offer a small variety of chocolate produced from Waialua.  We call it “Ali’i Chocolate”.  

We have learned that cacao is native to South America.  However, it was first planted in Hawaii in 1850 by a german physician named William Hillebrand.  The growing conditions are ideal for cacao in Hawaii.  But because it is a plantation crop, it was hard to make a profit off of the cacao produced.  This is because of the high land and labor costs in Hawaii compared to the low costs in South America and Africa.  

Today there are an estimated thirty growers in the state and around 100 acres of cacao planted.  Local sales of cacao seeds are about 200,000 a year at around $2.50/pound.  The higher sales come from those that process the seeds into chocolate for retail sales at an estimated $40/pound.  In 2008 cacao was the third biggest crop behind sugar cane and macadamia nuts, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service Data.  Because of the lack of space to have big plantations, the expansion of cacao farming is mostly due to smaller farms as a cottage industry.  The idea of farming cacao is romantic, just like coffee, however it is such hard work.  

In our Kona location, we hand make all of our own chocolates.  Only a small amount of the chocolate that we get comes from Hawaii due to the lack of availability.  But, next time you are in Kona please stop by and watch our chocolate being made and of course have a sample or two!  

Coffee Punch with a Kick!

Last night I was really in the mood to get into the holiday spirit.  This year I am with my family and that makes this season extra special.  So, I was trying to come up with an unique and delicious coffee punch recipe to share throughout this holiday season.  The recipe I concocted sounds a little “different” on paper but tastes amazing.  Its a coffee punch with a hints of Kona and a bit of spice!  Actually I should call this “Kona Gold Coffee Punch”…

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The night before you plan on serving the punch, you must prepare the special Cold Brew Holiday Concentrate.  

Cold Brew Holiday Concentrate

Get out your mason jar or your preferred method for making cold brewed concentrate.  For the coffee I am using Kona Mountain’s 100% Kona Signature Roast (my favorite).  You will need about 2 cups of coarsely ground coffee.  In addition to the ground coffee, add:

1 Tablespoon of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon of either green or black cardamom (Secret Ingredient ;))

1 teaspoon of nutmeg

1 teaspoon of vanilla powder

1 teaspoon of cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon of chili powder

Mix all ingredients together with the coffee grounds.  The smell alone should give you a hint on how delicious this punch is going to be.  Ok, now fill the mason jar (use a larger jar) 1/2 way full of the coffee mix and then fill the jar full of filtered water.  Let it sit for at least 12 hours.  As a side note, if you want to brew a hot pot of coffee, you can add the same ingredients listed above to your coffee grinds.  

Kona Gold Coffee Punch

4 Cups of 100% Kona Coffee Cold Brewed Holiday Concentrate

4 Cups of your choice of milk or cream.  I am using half Coconut Milk, and half Skim Milk.  

1 Cup of simple syrup.  For the simple syrup, mix 1/2 a cup of sugar and hot water.  Stir until the sugar dissolves.  

Pour all the ingredients into a pitcher and stir well.  Top off with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.  Let the ice cream melt.  When you serve the punch, add a little ice to the glasses then top each one with a little ice cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.  

I hope this reminds you of a beautiful tropical Kona holiday!  Aloha!