2014 Rusty's Hawaiian Sea Salt Massaged Natural Process Ka'u


Rusty's Hawaiian Ka'u Sea Salt Massaged Natural Process
Lorie Obra
Pahala, Ka'u, Hawai'i

Exclusively produced for Spro by world renowned coffee grower, Lorie Obra, in the little hamlet of Pahala in the Ka'u district of Hawai'i island.

No longer overshadowed by it's more famous neighbor to the northwest, the Ka'u region has quickly become one of the premier growing regions of the world - mainly led by the efforts of Lorie Obra, a former medical technologist from New Jersey who moved to Hawaii in 1999 with her husband Rusty, who dreamed of growing fine coffees during their retirement years. In the early years, they farmed 12 acres of former sugar cane land and incorporated the entire spectrum of coffee growing, processing and roasting into their tiny operations.

After Rusty's passing in 2006, Lorie decided to continue on with Rusty's dream of producing the world's best coffees, eventually enlisting the help of our dear friend R. Miguel Meza, who's own work of exploring improved production methods, with a firm understanding of roasting and barista coffee preparation developed with his own family business, Paradise Coffee Roasters in Ramsay, Minnesota. As Lorie's reputation and business grew, they lured Joan Obra (Lorie's daughter) and her husband Ralph Gaston (Joan's husband), both journalists, to the farm to build the family business.

I first met Lorie through Miguel back in 2008, when I flew out to the Big Island to meet this up-coming lady and see her farm for myself. Admittedly, I knew very little about Lorie (actually, only knowing her as "Lorie") and was surprised when we pulled up to the house to be greeted by a little Filipino lady who's no bigger than my own mom. After quick introductions, Lorie exclaimed: "If I knew you were Filipino, I would have made bibingka!" (a traditional Filipino baked sweet bread that's cooked in banana leaves over an open fire). From that moment on, I have been enamored with Lorie and her journey.

During that visit, we saw her entire operations, from the trees to the processing stations, to the little Brazilian roaster she used to roast her coffees. It was (and still is) amazing to think that this little woman manhandles 100 pound sacks of coffee around the farm all by herself. One of things that struck me about Lorie was her scientific background, which translated into various growing and processing experiments that were definitively outside the box - approaches like fermenting coffee in various mediums, such as pineapple juice and Pepsi Cola (when I asked her why Pepsi instead of Coke, she said: "That's what I had at the house!").

Since that first visit, Lorie and Rusty's Hawaiian Ka'u Coffee have continued their journey to prominence in the coffee world, winning award after award and demonstrating that the Ka'u region is on par (or dare I say dominant over) the Kona region.

When Joan and Ralph and I got together this past summer to discuss this years' coffee, they asked me what I would like. Honestly, I didn't know what I wanted. What I did know is that Lorie and company produce excellent coffee. We threw some ideas back and forth when Joan brought up something she called Sea Salt Processed coffee. Huh? That just sounded crazy, funky and more than a little weird. Sea Salt Process?

The idea was to utilize hand-harvested sea salt from the southern shores of the Big Island. This literally meant that someone (Lorie) would go out to the rocky shores and find dried sea salt deposits, gather them and use them in the processing of our coffee. It would make for an amazing storyline but one that the Hawaii Department of Agriculture would quickly kibosh. Turns out that hand-harvested sea salt is not considered "food grade" and would not be certified for sale. Instead, commercially produced Hawaiian Sea Salt would have to suffice.

To give you an idea of just what this means, the two basic methods of processing coffee are washed and natural. Natural processing takes the harvested coffee cherries and leaves them out to dry in the sun. After drying they are run through a dry mill to remove the dry hull and leave the green beans. The sea salt is hand-massaged into the coffee cherries at various points throughout the natural drying process of the coffee, producing the coffee that we offer you today.

Our Rusty's Sea Salt Massaged Natural Process Hawaiian Ka'u is bright and aromatic with notes of pineapple, cherry, grape that lingers with a lightly tannic, cabernet sauvignon-type finish. It is truly one of the most exquisite coffees we've ever offered and only 40 pounds were produced (and only for Spro!).

As self-serving as it may sound, I can't help but be terribly excited by this coffee. It's delicious and I'm tempted to drink a lot of it myself. Made with 100% Arabica Typica coffee and roasted to a medium city roast, I think it's a complete winner. Admittedly, it is quite expensive, part of which is due to the small quantity produced, the intensity of the processing method (each bean is massaged with sea salt by hand) and the generally high cost of production in the United States, but I think it's worth it. Hint: if you're local to Spro, we do sell the coffee by the ounce in Hampden.


2014 Rusty's Hawaiian Sea Salt Massaged Natural Process Ka'u 

Producer: Lorie Obra 
Region: Ka'u, Hawai'i 
Elevation: 2000 fasl 
Harvest: September 2014  
Processing: Sea Salt Natural Raised Bed Dried 
Varietals: Arabica Typica 


2014 Rusty's Hawaiian Sea Salt Massaged Natural Process Ka'u

Whole Bean - 8 ounces


Please Note: Our Sproastery works on a weekly roasting schedule to provide the freshest coffee possible. Currently, our roast day is on Tuesdays. Our coffees are roasted on Tuesday and shipped out by Wednesday for weekday delivery. Please place your orders by midnight Monday night so that we can accommodate your order in our production schedule.  Thank you.

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