Our History

Rusty
LorieJoanRalphRusty

Welcome!

I’m Joan Obra, daughter of Rusty’s Hawaiian founders Rusty and Lorie Obra. Thanks for taking time to learn how we pair our award-winning coffee with inspiration. If you need a treat for the body and mind, you’ve come to the right place — for encouraging your big dreams is how we honor my late father.

Years ago, when he was dying, we didn’t know whether to continue our Hawaiian coffee farm, mill and roastery. Dad hadn’t fulfilled his retirement goals: to make some of the world’s best beans in the Ka’u District, on the southern side of the Big Island.

Mom would have to carry on alone. My brother, Rusty Jr., was in New Jersey and I was in California. We wondered how she’d handle all the manual labor. And we worried about her outlook. Of the two, Dad was far more optimistic. He even welcomed visitors warmly and cracked jokes in the last weeks of his life. Astonished, I asked how he could be so happy. He gave me this parting advice: “Have a positive attitude, be thankful and have faith.”

Those words turned out to be Dad’s greatest gift — and his toughest challenge — to our family. With his guidance in mind, Mom took a big risk and didn’t just continue Rusty’s Hawaiian; she vowed to realize his vision. Goodness knows it wasn’t easy. She faced challenges such as drought; endless experimentation in learning how to make great coffee; and struggles to gain recognition for Ka’u, which was known for sugarcane until the 1990s.

Her determination caught the eye of some of the best minds in the specialty-coffee industry. After lots of advice and experimentation, Rusty’s Hawaiian started winning awards. Now, Mom had a new problem: The company was too big for her to handle. So my husband and I moved to the Big Island. Since then, we’ve been featured in two books. The New York Times called us one of “the world’s most celebrated farms” and we have a number of awards for unroasted and roasted coffee. My brother Rusty also became hooked on competing: He’s the 2015 United States AeroPress Champion.

Along the way, we discovered something far more important than how to make great coffee: We learned to believe in ourselves, push past fear, and find joy in difficult circumstances. In short, we no longer were repeating Rusty’s advice to ourselves. We’d made his words our own.

Dad was a big believer in paying it forward, so we want to give thanks by supporting you. If you have a big dream and need consistent nudges in fulfilling it, check out our Instagram feed for #RustysCredo. And if you want an encouraging gift for someone, consider our coffee. We tuck encouraging cards in our packages.

When you drink our coffee, let it be a powerful, tangible reminder of what’s possible when you believe in yourself. My parents were tea drinkers who had no farming experience, but they followed their hearts to make something big happen.

May big things happen for you, too. Thanks for joining us here. We’re so happy to meet you and wish you the best of luck in realizing your own vision.

With warm aloha,
Joan

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