Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting

Hawaii Kona Coffee Fest 2005

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Putting danger aside, I was a big fan of the steam vents at Kilauea, finding them sulfurous in odor, but nice and warm. We were still in beach clothes. Word of advice: bring extra clothes and some hiking shoes for volcano travel. We drove south on a whim, so whatever ....
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Enveloped in mist, shrouded in a stinking fog, but pleased to be warm, yours truly at Kilauea, getting steamed.
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Next day we were at a favorite beach again, at Kekala Kai Park. This is a path northward across the lava flow (of 1801 I believe) to Makalawena. Makalawena is part of the Bishop's Estate land, but you are permitted to trespass.
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At Mahai'ula beach (well, behind the beach on the lava field facing Mauna Kea volcano) are this herd of wild goats. They were neither too scared of my presence, not did they want to come over and hang out. I have heard of the wild boar, but didn't know about the goats.
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Makalawena, a very nice white sand beach with some enjoyable body surfing. Just watch out for the rocks.
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The path between the two beaches, in the park. This was, like much of the area, former ranch land. In fact, the goats might be all that is left of the ranch. Interestingly, their is an abandoned house at the beach that was said to be owned by Loretta Lynn! Now she has a large ranch elsewhere on the island.
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One of the many fun-loving spiders of Hawaii, just hanging out. If you are arachnaphobic, this probably isn't the best place for you (or at least, stay on the beaches, or in the pool by the hotel).
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It's Mountain Thunder time. Maria and I headed up the hill to the Mountain Thunder mill. As I mentioned before, this is the Bateman farm. They process coffee for their own estate, have a separate organic certified plot, and process for some other folks too. Here is a picture of Thomas, the machinist and farm supervisor, with a really cool 4wd vehicle, the Kawasaki Mule! I need to get me one of them.
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Loading up the pallet with their own estate coffee, headed to ... Sweet Maria's actually. The estate is very high altitude for Kona, 3200 feet up Kaloko Drive, and one of the northernmost coffees in Kona area. (And you are encouraged to visit the mill, where they sell coffee and have a gift shop).
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Trent Bateman and their 2 Diedrich IR 12 roasters. Trent runs the farm and mill, his wife Lisa oversees much of the business and their daughter Brooke does all the roasting. Brooke roasted all the samples for this years Kona Coffee Festival (no small feat) and they were roasted really well too. It was a true City roast which is great for cupping, while some casual onlookers will think the uneven surface appearance is some kind of problem. In fact, if you roast darker for cupping, you are going to be tasting the roast, more than the coffee - not the idea of cupping.
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Mineself, pictured from the Bateman's veranda, on their certified organic plot. These are massive 15 foot tall trees in beautiful condition, especially when you consider that organic trees usually are a bit more scraggily than non-organic trees fed with nitrogen fertilizers.
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This is the main cultivar you find on Kona, the bronze tipped (referring to new leaves) Kona Typica which is known to be of Guatemalan heritage. These trees were started about 100 years ago, and might coincide with the transition from large coffee plantations pre-1899 to the small farms afterward. 1899 marked a huge coffee price crash, and abandoned farms were later replanted with the Guatemalan Typica (also spelled Tipica).
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Trent took time to show me the "Cat's Eye" in his coffee - these are the special dark spot seen in the seed on the left and not on the right. Trent says this contains higher concentrations of aromatic volatile oils than the rest of the seed and will result in a better cup. Later this year when we receive our 2005-2006 Kona coffees, I will put his theory to the est by separating and cupping the difference between a single lot of coffee with and without the dark "Cat's Eye" spot. Should be fun!
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Kaldi's Goats - if you know the mythic story behind the "discovery of coffee" by the goat herder Kaldi, then maybe the presence of these guys on the Bateman's farm will mean something to you. I for one did not see them a. eat coffee or b. dance.
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I did, however, see an incredible abundance of coffee on the trees all over Kona. We went over to the Rittenhouse farm to visit Roger and Vivian; Moki's Farm as our customers know it. This is a huge crop and the trees are bending, almost at breaking point, with the weight. The cherries are big and beautiful. These are ready for picking. This and the next image are from 80-100 year old trees that remain along the periphery of Moki's Farm.
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Here you see a typical mix on a single branch of coffee ready to pick (some that REALLY needs to be picked, that is, turning dark crimson) while other is yellow-green and will ripen in a few weeks or a month. Actually, this branch is more uniform ripening than you will see in other origins where pickers make 5-6 passes on the same tree. This year, there is so much cherry in Kona, the mills are backed up and the picking crews are in very high demand. Some farmers fly in experienced coffee pickers from Mexico and other coffee origins to harvest, since local labor doesn't fill the need.
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Ah, back to the coast. This is a typical view of the Kona coastline - there are very few sand beaches in Kona. It is a steep slope down to a volcanic skirt ... and some of the underwater drop-offs are huge too. I love "reef walking" in Kona, tidepooling - but growing up in San Diego it was much easier to do than in Kona. Kona will tear your feet up. Invest in some good reef-walking slippers.
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Church ruins at Kealakekua Bay, or was it Ho'okena Bay ... It was the later.
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Nobody at home, also could be titled "how I feel at 4:30 pm every day." Crabs abandon their shells on the lava.
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Spiny sea urchins in the tidepools at Honaunau, City of Refuge Park

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