Defining Coffee Tastes
Many times folks ask us Kona coffee farmers to describe what real 100% Kona coffee tastes like. Now you can easily get a long winded answer with lots of odd terminology, or an evasive comment that many Kona coffees are vastly different from each other. But one can certainly count on the good people at the Specialty Coffee Association of America who have set up a nifty coffee tasting scale. Look at this pretty graphic to see all the descriptive words being used! Based on this ingenious system, Kona coffee in general can be categorized (radiating out from the center) under AROMAS: floral, fruity, nutty, carmelly, chocolately. Various roasts often determine which of these notes are more dominant. While in the TASTES fields the descriptor sweet is pretty mandatory for any good Kona. Yet simply sweet can have various meanings from i.e. mellow or piquant.
The very outer fields are the top note terms-mostly left for the expert ‘cuppers’ (professional coffee tasters), and that is where the subtle differences between the various Kona coffees come in. One farm may have more of a berry aroma to its beans, while another has a hint of lemon in them. Of course when you have a lemon pound cake or a blueberry muffin along with your coffee, that may play a role too. Cuppers have trained palates and extremely developed nerve endings in their nostrils; oftentimes rivaling those of a blood hound! They also know what caustic and cineolic means, whereas we don’t! Nevertheless we are all allowed to describe our own coffee experiences and enjoy them as manyfold as they come.
Important for any coffee is also the ACIDITY (which gives coffee the needed bite), as well as the BODY (which is best noted in the lingering aftertaste that should have a certain roundness to it). Kona’s coffees in general have a bright, vibrant, yet mild acidity. While the body should feel full, even buttery on your palate.
A good coffee ‘blend’ tries to achieve the well rounded flavor profile of pure origin coffees by mixing cheaper beans from a variety of sources, which sometimes also pleases the customer who wants to have the ‘same’ coffee year in and year out. Single origin, single estate coffees (like ours) have slight differences in their aroma and taste from season to season, comparable to the vintages from a particular vinyard.
Where is our BLUE HORSE KONA fitting in? Well, we are curious to hear from you! Already having found your way to Kona coffee, you are a coffee connossieur and may have noted subtleties which escape others, even noted cuppers.
What does the ‘Robert M. Parker’ of the coffee world, Ken Davids, have to say about Kona coffee?
You may have heard his name before in connection with good coffee. What Robert Parker is famous for in the wine world with his rating system, Ken Davids is the cupper to be reckoned with when you are a coffee grower or roaster. Here’s his opinion about Kona coffee.
“I will say, however, that I was most impressed by those Konas sold directly from small farms.... The standard issue, current-crop, direct-from-the farm Konas all struck me as fine to remarkable.”
“...I found the quality of the roasting and the freshness of the delivery impressive. ...Many mainland roasters would be well advised to take lessons from these farmers about how to roast coffee with genuine respect for the bean itself.”
excerpt from ‘Small-Farm Konas Shine’ (by Ken Davids)
“Kona is not overpriced, other fine coffees are underpriced. Entire societies are being torn apart by the current obscenely low prices for green coffee. Coffee, any fine coffee, should retail for at least $15 per pound, which would enable roasters to pay growers what the growers need to get by and to continue to improve their production, thus giving us coffee lovers more pleasure.”
excerpt from ‘Are Konas worth it?’ (by Ken Davids)
Eric from 'Gourmet Coffee HQ' has some interesting taste descriptions of our beans to share:
"...I was greeted with a full aroma that hinted at chocolate and hazelnut... The flavor is complex, and lasts for a surprisingly long time... A second or two after the initial sip, a sweet, berry-like flavor emerged. Overall, the coffee has a good 'round' body."