In search of a perfect cup of coffee

Coffee beans ripen at Upcounty Farm Specialties, Inc., in Kula. The farm’s coffee was ranked number four last year in a tasting of Maui-grown coffee. AYA GANZ photo

Coffee adventures. I just love, just adore, can’t live without coffee! The aroma, the ritual behind brewing up the perfect cup. The black velvety, favorite pick-me-up of the the entire world. No morning would be complete with- out it.

More than 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed in the world every day. Maui has great coffee. I was turned on to Maui’s coffee world by our own famous roaster, Oma Coffee Roasters in downtown Kahului. Owner Maria Holmes graciously advised me on who to visit to get a bit of history on island coffee. From Upcountry to Haiku to the Ka’anapali coast, coffee is grown all over Maui:

There are more than 30 backyard growers in Upcountry Maui alone. Hugo Buetler, owner of Upcountry Farm Specialties, Inc., was ranked number four last year in a tasting of Maui-grown coffee. Originally from Switzerland, he came to Hawaii in 1968 to work as a chef in Honolulu and moved to Maui 1975. He began his cooking career over 50 years ago in Los Angeles, and is now retired from the profession to focus on farming.

Upcountry Farm Specialties sits on just six acres and has only 90 coffee trees. The farm is diversified with flowers. such as protea, as well as fruit. Jams and jellies are always in production. All year round, there is something growing.

Upcountry Farm Specialties is open to the pubic, selling persimmons every weekend through the fall. After Thanksgiving, it will be selling crafts, coffee and more. This is quite the strong cup! Bold flavors with a bright finish.

* UpCountry Farm Specialities, 51 Calasa Road, Kula.

For the next cup, I was lucky to sit with Kimo Falconer. He is Maui’s largest estate coffee grower and owner of MauiGrown Coffee. Falconer is also the president of the Coffee Growers Association on Hawaii. His multi-generational family farm has about 500 acres of coffee trees. MauiGrown Coffee grows a specialty crop of Arabica coffee. The Mokka strain comes from Yemen, in a town situated on the Red Sea of Africa. This 1,000-year-old variety of coffee is “the champagne of coffee.” The secret to these beans was learned from a Bedouin farmer in Yemen. One of the secrets is that the beans are stored underground in darkness for up to six months. The pulp is actually dried on the bean. The natural sugars of the pulp are what change the flavor so much and take the bean into a category of its own. I have to say this coffee was literally to die for.

* MauiGrown Coffee, 277 Lahainaluna Road, Lahaina.

I was told one of the best cups coffee on island could be had at the roadside attraction, Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop. Leoda’s serves a blended, drip cup of joe named after itself. What goes better with coffee? Pie of course! Along with pie and coffee, Leoda’s has been serving local food for eight years. Speciality pies are always a focus, and a big deal come holiday season. Pecan, pumpkin, and island-styled varieties like banana cream and chocolate macnut, are on the menu. I had coconut cream, which was the perfect complement to the rich coffee.

* Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop, 820 Olowalu Village, Lahaina.

Pondering more “caffeination,” I was seriously contemplating flying on my drive home. I had one more stop to make, but I went the following day, otherwise I would have been up all night.

The Coffee Attic in Wailuku was my final stop on my first island coffee adventure.

People who want to go to a local place in town, come here. In addition to a coffee shop and cafe, the owner, John Henry and his wife Gwen, have created a delightful music venue. There’s a great community vibe, quality coffee and food. I had the cold brew. It was strong, smooth and deeply aromatic. Fantastically, in the Maui heat, the ice cubes were made of coffee! So as they melted, the coffee just got stronger! It helped me to wash down the Ube Haupia scone. Delightful and delicious. Not to be missed.

* Maui Coffee Attic, 59 Kanoa St., Wailuku.

So many good cups of coffee served on Maui and so many dedicated coffee growers. I so look forward to more.


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