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It’s a pretty rare thing today when a coffee consumer has the opportunity to communicate with, much less buy from, the coffee farmer. Hawaiian coffees provide a delightful exception, and few, perhaps, are more delightful [coffees and farmers, alike] than Bob and Cea Smith of Smithfarms on the Kona coast of Hawaii.
Smithfarms is a five acre family-owned and operated farm, some 1,800 feet up the slope of Mauna Loa [itself 13,300 feet]. Bob and Cea are clearly passionate about their arabica typica coffee trees [and macadamia nut trees, and their honeybees]. While not certified organic, they use no insecticides, their coffee is naturally shade grown, hand-picked and sun dried, and they practice sustainable farming, aided in no small part by Bob’s degree in tropical agriculture.
Smithfarms offers two green coffees – “Estate Grade Run” flat berry coffee [a mix of unscreened number 1, fancy and extra fancy grades] and Kona Peaberry. This profile is of the Kona peaberry, as I favor peaberry coffees. There’s little reason to believe that the Estate Grade Run coffee would differ substantially, if at all, from the peaberry’s profile.
For a peaberry, these are big beans, and very uniform. I’m finding very few defects, even for a premium coffee like this–about seven or so per pound. [I *have* found a couple very small lava-rock type pebbles. No problem in the air-roaster, but mind your grinders.]
Smithfarms has produced what I view as the archetypical Kona coffee–a very clean, light, well-balanced cup. It is intensely fragrant dry, and nearly so brewed in the cup. This is a very bright coffee. It’s acidity would likely carry well into a Full City roast, though, frankly, I don’t go there. It is a fairly light coffee, though I find more body in this cup than I often do in a Kona… I suspect that if the peaberry has any impact at all it contributes to its slightly richer mouth-feel. It’s flavor is nutty, sweet and refreshing, and it fairly begs to be drunk with chocolate. There isn’t the slightest hint of wildness, or earthiness… it is a distinctly clean cup. It’s more delicate flavor, alas, leaves it wanting only for a stronger, or longer, finish.
It would be a shame to roast this coffee too long, and chance losing its distinctly Kona characteristics. As for me, I roast to a Light City [the lightest I roast any coffee.] This is a good coffee to roast by nose. Pay close attention to the roast as first crack comes to a close… the moment that you no longer smell any hint of grassiness be ready… and at the very first hint of pungency, hit the cooling switch or dump the beans to your cooling tray.
Kona has finally rounded the corner to once again deserve its reputation as a premium island coffee. And Bob and Cea at Smithfarms should be proud of their contribution to the cause.