Brew HaHa!

As kids we made “cowboy coffee” in a speckled, enameled steel coffee pot in an open fire Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 9.23.31 AMon boy scout camping trips. Dump in some ground Folgers, fill with water,  and add egg shells to sink the grounds. I don’t remember thinking it was good, but it was hot and black and strong, just what was called for with our greasy bacon and eggs sprinkled with a little dirt and toast made in a greasy skillet. A few years ago I had some great cowboy coffee on a Xanterra Chuckwagon Dinner in Yellowstone National Park near the Theodore Roosevelt Lodge. They did it right – steak, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, apple cobbler and a huge enameled coffee pot with freshly brewed cowboy coffee. It was good given the setting  – a great meal in a magnificent landscape while a black bear hovered amongst the trees, trying to sneak up on us for a handout. Drama always makes the coffee tastier. Still, cowboy coffee is usually a 2 or 3 for me on a scale of 10. It ranks slightly above INSTANT, a 1 or 2 in my book, but better than no coffee at all.

The new technologies in coffee brewing are a bit baffling. We run into Keurig machines in hotel rooms and they are always fun. However, I just don’t like froo-froo coffee. Coffee should not have vanilla or other subverting flavors mixed in (except CHOCOLATE – mocha is OK).  I have never had a cup of Keurig coffee that caused the word “Wow!” to bubble up from deep in my CAC (coffee

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Xanterra’s Chuckwagon dinners in Yellowstone give you a real taste of western hospitality and cowboy coffee is on the fire nearby.

appreciation center – I don’t know this exists, but think it must). I would give the untainted cup of Keurig a 4 or 5, but it loses points for being environmentally unfriendly with its single serve plastic containers.

I feel like I have had every kind of Mr. Coffee ever made from the usual drip kind to their affordable approach to Espresso. Most drip coffee makers produce a reasonable cup of coffee. I give them a 5 or 6 on a 10 scale. Some hotels and motels have gone to drip machines for one cup. You pour a cup of cold water in the top, add the filter-packet of coffee to the flimsy plastic holder and hit the button. Voila – a really mediocre cup of drip coffee – maybe a 3.

Then there’s Starbucks, Seattle’s Best and a plethora of nouveau coffee houses. They have really expensive equipment and every additive you can imagine. That’s probably good because the coffee itself is good but not exceptional. Coffee houses are designed more for the total experience – comfortable seating, nice music, fresh coffee aromas, delicious super-calorific snacks. I would give their coffee only a 6 or 7 in most cases.

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French press coffee with ice cream at Forest Lodge in Gisakura, Rwanda – a real treat in every way.

When we were staying at Forest Lodge in Gisakura, Rwanda, near Nyungwe National Park, our friendly food manager, Jean-Marie, would bring coffee to the table in a French Press and we would let it steep three or four minutes and then pour and drink it, amazed at the fullness of the flavor. It’s not just a cup of coffee at breakfast to accompany eggs and bacon. It’s the reason to crawl out of bed, look up at the sunshine over the rainforest and savor that first cup of coffee, awash in the aroma of tea fields, steaming coffee and morning rain. We were converted. Our drip machine went to the storage closet.

According to Wikipedia, “A French press, also known as a cafetièrecafetière à pistonCafeteriapress potcoffee press, or coffee plunger, is a coffee brewing device patented by Italian designer Attilio Calimani in 1929. . . Coffee is brewed by placing coarsely ground coffee in the empty beaker and adding hot—between 93–96 °C (199–205 °F)—water, in proportions of about 30 g (1.1 oz) of coffee grounds to 500 ml (17 US fl oz) of water, more or less to taste. The brewing time is about two to four minutes. Then the mesh plunger or piston is pressed, to separate the grounds and hold them at the bottom of the beaker.”

27540013_10212736826270358_1637706871554896684_nAt home we now have a stainless steel French Press and make coffee in it each morning first thing. We fill up an insulated Tiger thermos as we make coffee, so we can keep it hot all day and enjoy it over and over without that burnt flavor of over-warmed coffee. It’s still hot at 5 PM though it was brewed at 6 AM.

We take our freshly brewed Tiger thermos out on the lanai and relax with our morning coffee as we  watch the changing face of the Pacific Ocean sprawled out to the south and west. It’s late March and the rainy season has started. We might see a humpback whale blow or breach, waving goodbye as it heads back to Alaskan waters for the summer feeding season. Coffee trees are blooming and most limbs are already festooned with green coffee cherry at various stages of growth with occasional white flowers after a rain. Saffron finches and yellow-billed cardinals dive in and out for a drink or dip at our koi pond waterfall. When the sun rolls over Mauna Loa behind us and lights up the coffee groves, we are likely on our second cup of coffee. Life is good.

We grow Heartfelt Kona Coffee, our own estate brand. When we brew it and serve friends and guests, we want it to amaze them with the rich flavor, the magic of fresh-roasted Kona coffee, a medium roast too good to quit on after only one cup. For me it always scores a “10.” The French press makes the best of great coffee beans grown right here on our tiny farm and lovingly hand picked and processed by the two of us.

You can still enjoy our coffee wherever you are, even if you’re not sharing a cup with us on our lanai, but be warned – you may find yourself inexplicably thinking of ocean breezes gently reminding you to slow down and smell the coffee blossoms. Think about trying French press as the way to brew it. You’ll be glad you did.

Tim Merriman





Do Me a Flavor – Enjoy Some Coffee Quotes

27540013_10212736826270358_1637706871554896684_nOh, what a beautiful morning! Oh what a beautiful day. I’m drinking this whole pot of coffee. You better stay out of my way!

– Unknown

These are the confessions of a coffee fanatic and now a Kona coffee farmer. I remember my first taste. My dad took me hunting as a kid of ten or so and the only beverage with the delicious bologna sandwiches with lettuce and mayo would be a hot thermos of coffee heavily laced with real cream and lots of sugar. I hated it, but it was warm and we were hunting in the snow. And then I kind of liked it. And then I tried it without the cream and sugar, and I loved it, even as a teenager.

Love is in the air, and it smells like coffee.

– Unknown

I started reading a barista site with coffee quotes and enjoyed so many of them it was hard to choose just one to accompany my attempts to engage you in a coff-versation. I was looking for a quote I have seen that is something like, “If you have to add something to it, you’re drinking the wrong kind of coffee.” If I have quoted someone without attribution, I apologize.

I was taken by the power that savoring a simple cup of coffee can have to connect people and create community.

– Howard Schultz

In college I remember coffee as the universal balm. It hyped you up to face the day. You shared a cup with friends who were also cutting class to play Bridge or shoot pool. You drank it all night before the paper was due so that you could put the finishing touches on your masterpiece at 7:45 AM and turn in the paper at 8:00 AM. Any kind or strength of black coffee would do, the more caffeine the better.

I spent the summer at 22 years of age in Spain and developed a new appreciation for coffee at all levels. Breakfast was bread torn from a baguette and basted with jam. Coffee was a huge mug of boiling milk and several teaspoons of Taster’s Choice Instant. My Spanish family members would add lots of sugar. I stayed with cafe con leche sin azucar (without sugar). I kind of liked how the hot milk softened the taste of too much instant coffee. In the afternoon we would go to Oliveri outdoor cafe and I had an Americano, a sacrilege at this place to dilute the espresso but I was young and American. With the coffee came una marquesa, a dessert to blow your mind. I was still enjoying coffee mostly for the caffeine and began to notice flavor, but not so seriously that I quit drinking instant coffee.

Sometimes I go hours without drinking coffee…it’s called sleeping.

– Anonymous

In our last years of full-time work Lisa and I traveled 100,000 + air miles a year, hung out way too many hours in airport lounges. Coffee was essential and the flavor varied widely. I somewhat preferred the places serving Starbucks coffee, but wondered if it was just brand adoration. I didn’t buy their packaged coffee at home. I liked several other medium dark roast coffees more.

If you are not coffee, chocolate or bacon, I’m going to need you to go away.

– Anonymous

Moving to Hawaii three plus years ago changed our lives. Buying a Kona coffee farm was interesting in theory and a new passion in real life. The coffee we produce has exceptional flavor and aroma others tell us. We think so too. A novice coffee farmer pulls off this amazing feat only because the trees have been here many decades, the soil is volcanic pebbles in a rich humus and it rains like crazy eight months of the year (thankfully mostly at night). It was growing amazing Kona coffee long before we took over. We planted cacao trees among our coffee trees (they are very compatible) and they are going to yield our own chocolate nibs in a couple of years. All we need then is bacon – oh wait, there are wild pigs here too. The problem is we fenced them out and our dogs in. Wow, Kona coffee, Kona chocolate and Big Island Bacon. What a combination that will be (but we’ll still buy the bacon instead of raising our own, I think) .


Coffee is a hug in a mug.

– Anonymous

We roast to medium, the coffee lovers “Goldilocks” level of roasting. Blonde is too light and not enough of the rich flavor of the bean. Medium dark roast and dark roast add the charred coffee taste and aroma. The three bears would say, “Grrrreat, medium is just right, not too charred, not too light, and just the right amount of caffeine (counterintuitively more than dark roast).

I put coffee in my coffee.

– Anonymous

Whatever you choose as your coffee, be sure you truly like it and not just as a conveyor of flavored syrups and other additives. We’ve landed in the garden of great coffee in Captain Cook, Hawaii. And we produce it because we love it. I enjoy a great coffee quote along with my coffee. Don’t be like Edward Abbey, author of Desert Solitaire (see below). Get a good cup of coffee . . . you can order from us here.

Tim Merriman

Our culture runs on coffee and gasoline, the first often tasting like the second.

– Edward Abbey