A mild "island coffee" profile, with balance, body and brightness. Lighter roasts have a refined honey sweetness, attractive hibiscus flower aromatics and flavors, silky body. Full City roast has milk chocolate and less floral notes. City+ is the "sweet spot"
C+ : I like a lighter roast, ceasing the heat with no sign of 2nd crack on the horizon, right before the texture of the seed surface becomes smooth, even brown. You can also get a nice cup just a few snaps of second (FC+), but I find it takes a longer time in most roasters to achieve this level of roast.
Kona Coffee is grown only in the district of Kona on the west side of the Big Island of Hawaii. While coffee is also grown on other islands (Kauai, Maui, Oahu), it does not generally receive the same care and attention in the process as true small-farm Kona coffees. Kowali (which means Morning Glory in Hawaiian) is a moderate-sized Kona farm with the right kind of altitude to produce exceptional Kona coffee. This coffee is grown by Skip and Rita Cowell on their 12 acre Kona farm, up an old-time coffee road winding along the steep hillsides of Honaunau in Southern Kona. It has been consistently acclaimed one of the top 10 coffees in Kona, and in fact received an honorable mention in the Kona Coffee Competition. "The funny thing about that," Rita told me a long time back, "is that I didn't enter the competition!" Last year she did enter it, and won first prize in the category for "larger" farms ... which is all relative. By all measures, Kowali is very small. The Cowell farm is grown on carefully tended land, using no pesticides and 100% hand picked. It has been recognized by the Kona Soil and Water Conservation District for continuing conservation practices. Skip is an expert in this area and lectures on Soil Conservation at mainland conferences. In terms of cup character, the coffee reflects the Kona heritage (this is 100% Kona Typica, which was brought from Guatemala in the '20s) and the altitude.
This cup is a classic Kona in all respects, with a big, sweet flavor that somehow matches the immense blue-green appearance of the coffee seeds. Dry fragrance has honey sweetness, mild chocolates, and a slight floral nectar sweetness at lighter roast levels. I get hibiscus floral qualities from the wet aromatics too, while darker FC roast has a nice milk chocolate scent. The body is light but has a nice silky quality. And it has the brightness that is lacking in so many low-grown Hawaiian coffees, and a floral accent to the cup. A refined, elegant sweetness prevails, vanilla-laced honey that lasts through the crystal clear flavors in the finish. I found this real "sweet spot" at City+. But I appreciate taking it towards second crack too, and made a nice SO Espresso from that roast level. Mild island coffees like this, moderate in acidity and so well-balanced, are a great choice for unblended espresso experiments.