The ‘best’ is not necessarily the most expensive. The ‘best’ is not necessarily the luxury-labelled product. The ‘best’ is actually always only known to an insider. Make that ‘only known to you’. Because the real ‘best’ is subjective and everybody somewhat in tune with their inner self knows when this personal ‘best’ has been found.
Same with whatever the ‘best’ coffee might be. Divorces were filed over badly brewed ones and first borns cut out of wills because of the wrong filter paper. So the serving of self-grown coffee to a coffee guru of Colin Newells’ caliber can make even the sturdiest coffee farmer shiver in his muddy boots. Yet when Colin and his darling Andrea tasted our beans on our Hawaiian coffee farm, he included the very four letter word in his compliment:
“Best Kona I’ve tasted.”
What-, whose? Ours?! The shivering stopped immediately, which was nice. Upon Colin’s question what we think makes our Kona beans so good, I had to admit that a big part is certainly the very setting surrounding him. Like the nameless wine served from a simple carafe in a small village in the Provence or Tuscany after having hiked the cobble-stoned streets- this wine happens always to be the very best, because it feels and tastes just right. Right for that particular moment and place. Yet with a taste which belongs to something bigger and transcends, elevates one. So the ‘best coffee’ is not what we claim to grow (albeit we like to hear it), but I felt that it was also the special moment in time what Colin meant when he stated it.
Breathing the silky Hawaiian air, tasting the purity of our fresh rain water, the view of the verdant green hills covered with coffee bushes surrounding him, and the awareness that everything around contributed to this very coffee drinking experience. Watching the chickens who pick the bugs out of our orchard, the lush grass being alive under his feet, the sun which right then when it got too hot to bear got hidden by shade spending afternoon clouds, that he can ask the farmers how they found the place and what they would have to do tomorrow, hearing the rake going through the rustling parchment drying in the sun, sensing the history of the area, taking in the scenery. All that was his personal ‘best’- our coffee only being the accelerator, the oil in the gears.
Yesterday when you shelled out the big bucks for premium brands, a large portion of what you paid for was the actual product – today you are paying largely for marketing. But marketing campaigns do not make real luxury. The real luxury is finding these particular moments in time for yourself, for your friends, for when life is in sync. It may be the cappuccino with that formidable person on a rainy afternoon in a smokey cafe: We may hear you say that this is the best cappuccino you ever had. But what you meant is that you really feel good about where you are and who you are with.
Colin asked me to write from time to time about what we are doing here on our Kona coffee farm, our day-to-day farmer life, noteworthy experiences and news from the island. I wrapped my head around it of how to find an angle so that it would not be understood as a sales pitch or marketing (because we happen to sell our coffee as well). Having a cup of coffee is great fuel for experiencing the aforementioned particular moments; many magical moments are happening by farming and processing coffee as well. So I’ll try to share one or the other with you in the weeks to come. Of course what hopefully will be a simple, good read can certainly be enhanced with having your very personal ‘best’ coffee along with it.
Joachim Oster is a coffee farmer and owner (with his lovely wife Demetria and daughter Athena…) of Blue Horse Kona Coffee Farm in Kealakekua, Hawaii (near Captain Cook). His writing will periodically grace the pages of the CoffeeCrew Blog – and for that we are eternally grateful!