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From Bean to Cup—Savor Hawaii's Coffees


Hawai‘i is known worldwide for the gourmet coffee of the Kona Coast, but if you’re a real coffee nerd, you know that Kona’s just the beginning. The only place in the United States growing coffee as a commercial crop, our state hosts a thriving industry encompassing 10 major regions on five islands with approximately 7 million pounds produced last year, valued at over $30 million. We’re also unique as a coffee-producing center: Whereas most coffee is consumed far from its origins, Hawaiian coffee is drunk and sold right here at home in local cafés and stores.

Bean-and-brew guru Shawn “Dr. Coffee” Steiman, author of The Hawai‘i Coffee Book: A Gourmet’s Guide from Kona to Kaua‘i, is one of those aforementioned “coffee nerds.” His book provides an overview of Island coffee history, from modest beginnings on O‘ahu—not Kona as many might assume—to current-day production systems, as it makes its way from bean to cup, farm to coffeehouse. You don’t need to be a coffee nerd to appreciate his book, though; in addition to historic and scientific background on coffee, the book lists farms, cafés and retailers, plus over a dozen recipes for cooking with coffee—everything from appetizers and entrées to desserts and drinks.


Coffee’s also the topic of the next—and series finalé—episode of HONOLULU Magazine’s Biting Commentary with John Heckathorn TV series, presented by Hawaiian Airlines, airing on KGMB9 on Sunday, July 24, 2:30 pm.

What you’ll learning from Biting Commentary: Hawai‘i isn’t just the home of the only U.S. commercial coffee industry; we’ve got a current Coffee of the Year award-winning coffee (Kaliawa Coffee Farm in Ka‘u received 5th place—out of 10—from the Specialty Coffee Association of America; this is the 5th straight year a Ka‘u coffee has placed in the top dozen of the world) and the nation’s top barista, Pete Licata of Honolulu Coffee Company, plies his trade here too. (Pete went on from the U.S. Championships to take 2nd place at the World Barista Championships. His win is partially credited to Rusty’s Hawaiian 100% Ka‘u Coffee, which he used to make his winning brew—from coffee cherries he hand-picked himself at the farm; this guy is a serious coffee nerd, people!)

Tour the famed coffee regions of the Big Island with Biting Commentary, from Kona to Ka‘u; sip and savor fresh-brewed coffees at Beach Bum Café in Honolulu (our downstairs neighbor, by the way; owner Dennis McQuiod makes sure to keep us and other downtown denizens well-caffeinated, and if you stop by, you may find “Dr. Coffee” Steiman making your cuppa 100% Hawaiian brew); and learn to make the perfect cappuccino from champion barista Pete Licata.


We’re so buzzed about Hawaiian coffee on Biting Commentary, we’re giving away a copy of The Hawai‘i Coffee Book to one lucky winner, selected at random. Tell us in the comments below how many beans you think are in a pound of coffee. The answer, as published in The Hawai‘i Coffee Book, had a roughly 2,000 bean spread, i.e., between X and Z beans in a pound — the answer depends on the size of the beans — so we’ll accept as correct any guess that falls between those two numbers. We’ll pick a winner from among the correct guesses. Contest closes at 11:59pm on Sunday, July 24, 2011; see the end of this post for additional contest rules.

We think Biting Commentary will perk up your day. Brew a fresh pot (and make it Hawaiian!) and watch the episode this Sunday, July 24, at 2:30pm on KGMB9.

Special Deal: We’re so excited about Biting Commentary with John Heckathorn that we’re offering 30% off all our non-sale titles at our online store. Use coupon code BITEBOOKS to get your discount.

Contest Rules: A winner will be selected at random from the valid comments posted prior to the contest closing time. To be counted as an entry, the comment must include an on-topic answer. One entry per e-mail. The winner will be notified via e-mail; in the event that we do not hear back from the winner within 48 hours to confirm acceptance of their prize, a new winner will be chosen. Winners who do not respond within the stated time frame forfeit their prize claim.