Review: Klatch Coffee Hawaii Rusty’s Ka’u (Upland, California)

The Ka’u district of Hawaii is the largest and southernmost district of the Big Island, with the North and South Kona districts bordering it to the west. Coffee from Hawaii (Kona coffee in particular) is world-famous for its smooth, sweet flavor profile, but it’s rare to see 100% Kona coffee being sold, as it fetches quite a high price tag. I had received a gift card to Klatch as a birthday present from a dear friend – what’s up, DW 🙂 – and while ordinarily I wouldn’t have opted to spend THIS much money on coffee, I reasoned that gift cards aren’t about being sensible, they’re about opening the door to new joys. So, here we go!

Just so that you fully understand what I’ve gotten myself into, at the time of writing, Klatch is selling 170 gram bags of this Hawaiian single-origin coffee for $27.95 plus shipping. A typical bag of coffee in the US is 12 ounces/350 grams, so this is just a shade under 6 ounces – half the size of a ‘normal’ bag of coffee here. If you want two bags of this coffee, you’ll be paying $55.90!! (But, you will get free shipping at that price level.)

Whole bean: Extremely sweet aroma. I was most reminded of the hard chocolate candies available from See’s Candies. I also immediately thought of cashews, because the aroma was a lot like a mild-flavored nut that had a lot of fat – but after a minute, realized that macadamia nuts were a closer fit, as the bag’s tasting notes said.

French press: Anytime I encounter a coffee that has chocolate notes, I almost always try it in a French press first for the rich body, and hoo boy, this cup was smooth as silk. Very thick, milk chocolaty, and sweet with a touch of molasses on the finish. I drink my coffee black, but I imagine adding milk and sugar to this would turn it into utter decadence.

Clever Dripper: Similar to the French press cup overall, but the filter added a little “bite” to the coffee – almost brought out a note of raisins? It added a nice little flavor spark to keep things interesting.

Hario V60: While the immersion methods resulted in coffees with milk chocolate notes, this method brought out more of a semisweet chocolate character with more complexity on the finish. It was still mild and easy to drink, but it did taste a bit ‘perkier’ somehow than the French press and Clever Dripper cups.

Chemex: This had the least chocolate flavor of the four methods, and was more like toasted marshmallow and walnuts. I don’t know if it was the thicker filter in this method, but the resulting coffee was a little bland and almost watered-down to my taste. Total brewing time was 3:45 so perhaps it would be better to grind this finer and have the grounds in contact with water for longer.

Summary: The $55.90 question: Is this worth the high price tag? I’d probably say… maybe, if you’re in the mood to treat yourself/someone you love, once in a while. These beans made very smooth, sweet, chocolate-forward, rich, delicious coffee, and I enjoyed drinking it! However, I do think it’s possible to get this general flavor profile at a cheaper price point from speciality coffee roasters. I do believe in paying fair prices for quality products, as well as supporting small coffee farms, but I can’t justify spending nearly $75/lb. on Hawaiian coffee on a regular basis! If you can, more power to you and thank you for supporting the Hawaiian speciality coffee industry – tasting this was a rare treat, for sure.

From the roaster: A Hawaiian coffee bean from the Big Island that delivers. The sweetest washed Hawaiian coffee with notes of honey and chocolate on the nose with molasses, milk chocolate and hints of macadamia nuttiness on the tongue. Rich and syrupy body with a long aftertaste. Like a great Kona, only sweeter.

Please note that this coffee only roasts once a week, on Mondays.

Klatch Coffee Hawaii Rusty’s Ka’u

Review conducted 5-7 days post-roast.

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