REGION: Ka’u District FARM: Rusty’s Hawaiian FARMER: Lorie Obra
VARIETAL: Typica “Old Hawaiian” ALTITUDE: 1500 - 2000 FT PROCESS: Washed ROAST: Medium
MONDAY ROAST ONLY
A Hawaiian coffee bean from the Big Island that delivers. The sweetest Hawaiian coffee with notes of honey and chocolate on the nose with molasses, milk chocolate and hints of macadamia nuttiness on the tongue. Rich and syrupy body with a long aftertaste. Like a great Kona, only sweeter.
Rusty and Lorie Obra started their Hawaiian coffee farm in 1999, they stumbled upon an award-winning coffee region. Of course, they didn't know it at the time. The couple simply wanted to live in the Ka'u District, the southern side of the Big Island known for the Green Sand Beach near Ka Lae (South Point), the Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, and the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Rusty, a retired chemist, arrived first. He took over 12 acres of an old sugarcane farm on the slope of the Mauna Loa volcano and started planting coffee trees. Lorie, a medical technologist, soon sold their New Jersey home and followed him to Hawaii.
The couple quickly expanded their business to become farmers, processors, and roasters of coffee. Because of their science background, the two ran their farm like a laboratory. They started testing different processing methods and roasts, looking for ones that would bring out the best flavors in their coffee. Rusty also organized the Ka'u Coffee Growers Cooperative, a group of about 30 Ka'u coffee farmers.
Then Rusty passed away in 2006, leaving Lorie at a crossroads. Could she handle the business with all of its manual labor on her own? Lorie thought about selling the farm, but she couldn't let go of Rusty's dream: To make Ka'u coffee one of the best in the world.
In 2007, Ka'u was vindicated at the Specialty Coffee Association of America's annual conference. Two of Lorie's fellow farmers in the Ka'u Coffee Growers Cooperative won 6th and 9th place in the Roaster's Guild Cupping Pavilion Competition. That same year, Rusty's Hawaiian was one of seven farms that ranked in the SCAA's top 10 Hawaii/Asia/Indonesia regional competition.
The recognition and subsequent awards for Ka'u coffee -- strengthened Lorie's dedication. Lorie currently is president of the Ka'u Coffee Growers Cooperative. She was one of the organizers of the first Ka'u Coffee Festival, held in April 2009. She also continues to refine the processing and roasting methods at Rusty's Hawaiian. She has been recognized by "Coffee Review: The World's Leading Coffee Buying Guide" for her "artisan meticulousness."