A More Enjoyable
Cup of Kona Coffee
Like fine wine, making a perfect cup of Kona coffee depends largely on your personal taste. Some like it straight and strong and will probably consider the horrifying thought of dribbling fresh cream into it as a waste of good coffee beans. So let me start by saying that enjoying Kona coffee is like enjoying art - take it the way you like it.
Having said that, if you're wondering what all the fuss is about, give what other people recommend a try at least once and see for yourself. The comments below are all mine and personal. Use them to find your own comfort zone.
Picking the Degree of Roast
Because I drink my Kona coffee black, I usually take a medium to medium dark roast. Too light a roast will end up with "earthy" and "sour" coffee while a roast too dark will emphasize the bitter aspects of the coffee bean and remove some of the body Kona coffee's reputation is built on.
The recent specialty coffee trend has made dark roast popular, but dark roast actually burns a greater percentage of the coffee bean lowering the quality of the bean's original flavor. Dark roasting Kona coffee destroys Kona's subtleties and is simply a waste of good money and great coffee beans.
Before we get into the choice of brewing method (always a point of contention), let's talk about water. In Hawaii, we really take for granted the quality of water because of the abundance of delicious artesian ground water, but because coffee is at least 97% water, your care in choosing the right water will affect the quality of your cup of Kona coffee. How's the water in your locale? "If it's good enough to bathe in, it's good enough to drink" does not apply here.
My personal choice for brewing is the press pot, also known as the French press, Brazilian press, etc. The aromatic and flavorful oils from the coffee bean add so much more to the cup, and I consider the resulting body and taste to be superior to the drip method. If you prefer the drip method, remember that most of the oils will be retained in the coffee grounds in filters or the filter itself unless you use a gold filter.
For the press method, grind the beans slightly coarser to allow the screen plunger to work properly. Use two heaping teaspoons of ground coffee per ten ounces of water. ( A standard coffee mug is about ten ounces.) The water needs to reach at least 190 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, the optimum temperature to brew a cup of coffee.
After pouring the hot water into the container, I stir the coffee with a wooden chopstick to allow the grinds to interact with the hot water and then place the plunger cap on the container. My press pot model has sealable vents in the plunger to help retain heat. I let it brew for a few minutes before I open the vents and plunge.
Storing Coffee Beans
If you are not fortunate enough to be a roaster yourself, you'll have extra coffee beans like I do. Roasted coffee is a perishable food, and it must be stored away from light, humidity, and heat. After it is roasted, coffee excretes carbon dioxide creating a natural barrier that prevents oxidants from entering the bean. This barrier is lost after two to three days or immediately after it is ground.
Freshly roasted coffee is vacuum packed to extend the period of freshness as long as possible while minimizing oxidization. However, it is not practical to completely remove all air from the bag, so you should consume your coffee as soon as possible.
After opening a bag of coffee beans, store the extra in an airtight bag that you can squeeze the air out to minimize oxidation and keep it in a dark cool place. I usually grind only what I need for my daily cup(s) and store the rest.
Now sit back and savor the fine aroma and taste of that freshly brewed cup of Kona coffee. You've earned it.
Those of you who would like a more authoritative voice may refer to guidelines on brewing coffee from the
National Coffee Association
Specialty Coffee Association of America
. People who want to go beyond tanking down that mug like the unsophisticated local boy that I am might be interested in learning about
cupping or tasting coffee
Brewing espresso is not covered here. Espresso lovers will want to know what the Coffee Review has to say about
Kona coffee beans in espresso
Comments and suggestions are welcome through the contact form on
Copyright 2003-2013 by Lawrence Taguma. This web publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Lawrence Taguma.