The body is light and silky with 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. City+ is ideal.
City+ : 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 coffee. Skip and Rita Cowell are the owners of this 12 acre 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 placed 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 coffee 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, the higher altitude than the farms down in the flatter areas, and the cultivar (this is 100% Kona Typica, which was brought from Guatemala in 1892).
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-on-toast sweetness, nut, cinnamon, and a slight floral sweetness at lighter roast levels. I get hibiscus floral qualities from the wet aromatics too, while darker Full City 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. In the finish, you can taste the lower-grown character intrinsic to all Hawaii coffees: After all, they are grown at 100-350 meters, as opposed to 1500-1900 meters for our Guatemala coffees. But Kowali has brightness and sweetness that make this a compelling cup side by side with much higher-grown Central American coffees.