For our honeymoon my wife and I went to Honolulu. I remember having coffee in the mornings with my breakfast and thinking “Kona coffee is pretty bad.” In hindsight, that is probably similar to me staying at a Holiday Inn on the outskirts of Chicago and saying “Coffee in Chicago is pretty bad.”
I’ve decided this year I need to make sure and try coffees from wherever I can, and I know I missed a few Rusty’s Hawaiian coffee offerings at different places last year. When I saw Equator Coffee’s offering of a natural processed Kona, I knew I had to give this one a go.
Roaster: Equator Coffees & Teas
Producer: Mokulele Farms and Isla Custom Coffees
Region: Kailua-Kona, on Hawaii ’s “Big Island”
Altitude: 1,000-1,200 feet
Woodneck | 30g © to 420g (w) | 4:20 total time | 200 degrees (preferred method)
The dry aroma was incredibly inviting. I felt as if I was standing in a kitchen filled with freshly baked sweet hawaiian bread.
In the brewing aroma I was catching notes of cherry, tangerine, date, dried fruit, and brown sugar.
The nose of the cup continued the invitation initially presented by the dry aroma with cherry, plum, and vanilla.
The first sips were very fruit forward - banana, pineapple, plum, and date all jump out. The pineapple was reminiscent of the fresh Dole pineapple we got from the plantation on the island.
It is very viscous - rich tasting but still light in body. There is a sparkling acidity with a chocolatey and nutty rear mouth finish.
I’m starting to notice a winey long finish - at least 30 seconds after your sips. There is a powdery or dusty mouthfeel as opposed to a drying mouthfeel in other winey coffees.
Caramel seems to jump out mid cup and coat the tongue as it goes down with a growing sweetness and thicker body.
I really like leaving a few minutes after my sips, as there is a lot of change happening in the mouth.
It presents itself in a few stages over and over:
1) Sweet fruit entrance. 2) Gets a voluptuous body. 3) A sweet slide down the tongue. 4) Crisp finish. 5) chocolate/hazelnut aftertaste. 6) Spreading winey long finish.
As it gets to its coolest temperature, more of a cream taste begins to stand out. The acidity stays pretty strong the entire cup, with a little earthiness coming out in the very end.
Fruit forward, rich, winey finish, sophisticated.
Clever | 34g © to 493g (w) | 3:35 then drop | 200 degrees
Rich, balanced, smooth.
Pineapple flavor isn’t as prevalent in this method but the banana is. Not as fruit-forward as the woodneck.
Syrupy body with crisp acidity and lemon notes along with some stone fruit sweetness. Apple, plum, and grape are easily noticeable flavors.
Half way in it begins developing the powdery winey finish.
Whoa, but a watery melon note seems to have popped in out of the blue as well, very refreshing.
Those melon notes balance out as the fruitiness and sweetness keeps the overall cup from being too winey. The long finish still has some neat development, but not as much as the woodneck.
A subtle nutty finish overall. Really pleasing.
Tropical, syrupy, balanced.
Siphon | 30g © to 420g (w) | 0:49 pull heat - 2:20 total time | 200 degrees
Upon jumping in you are greeted by smooth banana, pineapple, and coconut fruits with a light chocolate and nutty finish.
Very balanced, very smooth. Medium bodied but it feels very full.
Mid cup you find a nice caramel sweetness jump out on the tongue. Prune, raisin, and date start to come alive along with some tropical fruits swimming around.
Acidity seems very low in this method, but it becomes more noticeable as it continues to cool.
Widening in the mouth but with a slightly drying mouthfeel.
Delicate, balanced, tropical.
Chemex | 25g © to 362g (w) | 5:00 total time | 198 degrees
Banana, pineapple, coconut forward. Light tea-like body but feels thicker with a rich and dusty cocoa finish and a light acidity and caramel sweetness.
Mid cup it almost has a cola-esque finish to it as well as some woody elements.
As it cools it develops that grainy/winey finish like in some other methods but this method is a little sweeter.
Not much noticeable change throughout the cup.
It ends with a lingering winey mouthfeel with swirling notes of plum, apple, and tropical fruits.
Delicate, winey, tropical.
Kalita Wave | 40g © to 552g (w) | 3:40 end time | 202 degrees (preferred method)
Pineapple and plum fruits balanced with dark savory notes, toasted nuts, rich chocolate, and an unusual juicy and subtly winey finish.
Voluptuous fruited notes (now adding apple, grape, cherry) swirl around like a vortex into a deep herbaceous and mesquite abyss with a pineapple acidity.
Again, back with a quite provocative aftertaste that is as complex as it is pleasing to all of the senses.
As it gets cooler it begins to delicately sweeten like cream as it cools, reminiscent of tiramisu sprinkled lightly with powdered sugar and raspberries on the side.
The coolest moments of the cup add caramel apple sweetness to a nutty and tart finish among the already accustomed flavors.
Tropical, voluptuous, complex, sophisticated.
The Kona Mokulele Natural is quite the coffee, but I’m not sure that I would drink it over and over on a regular basis. Do not mistake that as me not enjoying - quite the contrary. As noted in the first preparation of this coffee it can be quite sophisticated and winey. Those elements make this coffee stand in a league of its own as far as other coffees I’ve come across, but I feel like I would drink it in the same way that I would have a glass of wine or bourbon: an end of the day treat with my wife after the baby has been put to bed or with a buddy as we delve into whatever life has been teaching us lately.
I feel that if I drank this on a regular basis I wouldn’t be doing the coffee it’s due justice. It is to be respected, savored, and appreciated. Lucky for me it is also to be enjoyed, and I enjoyed every sip of it.
Co-host of the I Brew My Own Coffee Podcast and always has all the chocolate. I also love to play board games. Yea, let's go do that right now.