Posted on July 11, 2011 by Joan

For the second year in a row, we took the top score at the Hawaii Coffee Association’s statewide cupping competition! The winning coffee: Our Kenya-style Red Bourbon.

We’re delighted — and relieved — that Lorie’s experiments with Kenya-style processing paid off. This method, popular in Kenya, is modified for our climate. It took a year-and-a-half of trial and error to refine it for the winning coffee.

We carefully select ripe Red Bourbon coffee cherries, then pulp them to release the seeds, or coffee beans. We ferment the beans in water, then drain and rinse them. Then we add fresh water for another round of fermentation before laying the coffee on racks to dry.

The dried beans must rest to balance the flavors before roasting. The result: a clean, elegant and bright coffee that starts off with flavors of lemon and turbinado sugar, then shifts to blackberry, red wine and chocolate as it cools.

Here are more details from the Hawaii Coffee Association’s press release:

Rusty’s Hawaiian 100% Ka’u Coffee received top honors for the second consecutive year in the competition between coffees entered from each growing origin in Hawaii. The coffees were ‘cupped’ and scored from a pool of 58 premium Hawaiian coffees from eight districts by a panel of six notable coffee industry professionals using standardized blind procedures….

Lorie passionately expressed simultaneous joy and sorrow adding that she was emotionally torn between sadness and elation because her late husband and farm namesake, Rusty, could not share the award while expressing joy over realizing his dream. “This is for my late husband, our farm, the Ka’u district, the HCA and all Hawaii coffees from across the state,” Obra said.

The expanded cupping panel included Shawn Hamilton of Java City Roasters, Warren Muller of Inter American Coffee, Paul Thornton of Coffee Bean International, Lindsey Bolger of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Jay Isais and Jesse Martinez of Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Four of the six are licensed coffee graders. None are based in Hawaii to help ensure impartiality. “The cup quality and diversity has improved every year”, said chief judge Hamilton. “We’re experiencing flavors that would never have been associated with Hawaiian coffee in years past. Everyone is upping their game.”