November 15, 2012 by Beans Ahoy
We kick off this blog with a rather special coffee. Nespresso has just launched the Hawaii Kona Special Reserve and already it’s almost impossible to get hold of. Some friends of mine found that even half a day after it was launched the store had already sold out. It’s not difficult to see why really. Kona coffee has been coveted by experts for donkey’s years and they’re fairly good at producing a consistent crop.
Nespresso’s Karsten Ranitzsch said on launch:
“Kona is one of the world’s most sought after coffees for its exquisite taste but of such physical scarcity that it can only be offered as an extremely limited edition. To mark this distinction, Nespresso is announcing its first ever Special Reserve Coffee – Hawaii Kona – a true rare indulgence that every coffee lover should taste, if only once.”
I would agree. Kona is certainly worth tasting once in your life time. It’s not that it’s a very different in taste, but the complexity of the flavour is what perhaps puts this coffee in the upper leagues in terms of quality and makes it a coffee of desire. Kona coffee comes from the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa in the Kona area of the Big Island. It has to come from this area to be called Kona, and grows in volcanic soil, perfect for high quality coffee bush growing and bean development.
We like good beans here at Beans Ahoy, and this is definitely a good quality bean. I would have loved to see it un-ground, but there is good consistency through the capsules, despite being a single origin (and possibly single estate) coffee. It certainly gives the impression of a single estate coffee, but I will be interested if there is any change over the next two weeks as I drink my stock.
Purchases were limited to two cartons (20 capsules). Yes, only 2 cartons. The reasons for this are two fold. Firstly, they were limiting how many people could buy. Secondly, for £10 a carton I wasn’t going to buy more. Whilst I was first a little taken aback by the prices, I realised that it’s not actually that bad. It works out at a £1 a capsule which is good for one espresso. This is easily one of the top coffees in the world, yet we think nothing of forking over £1.80 for a minuscule shot of cardiac arrest inducing Lavazza at a local café. So really I see it as quite a good deal.
Nespresso classify this as a 5 out of 10 in terms of intensity. I must admit, I have never understood Nespresso’s view of intensity. If they are referring to the level of bitter, crushed face inducing tar of some coffees then I would rate Kona a 2 or 3. If however, they are referring to the body of the coffee and how it fills the mouth then I would say it’s a 6 or 7. Either way, there is very little bitterness, with quite a substantial boldness to the taste. I do have one gripe though. The name. I mean come on Nespresso! “Special Reserve”. I appreciate that coffee can be as complex as wine sometimes, but “Special Reserve”. In any event if it is a ‘Reserve’ I hope there is more to come and that there is a ‘Reserve’ sign above my cartons.
Nespresso’s roast? I am in mixed minds about a lot of Nespresso’s roasting. Some of their roasting is superb. Their Rosabaya de Colombia is one such example. The roast has fully extracted the taste of the bean, caramelising the sugars perfectly. Other examples such as the Vivalto Lungo leave you wondering whether they thought they were roasting popcorn. Nespresso seems to have got it right with this one. There is a hint of too high a heat for too short a time, missing a little of the flavour extraction, but then again, its only really there when the coffee is very hot. The flavour settles once cooled slightly.
Peculiar really, but not in a bad way. Best not drunk very hot as a lot of the complex flavours are lost. Allowed to cool however and the flavour evolves in the mouth, despite having a slightly flat almond aroma. It starts with a slightly earthy sandalwood, which quickly changes to hints of cinnamon and spice with a definite nutty base. The after taste is surprisingly sweet, but not tart, more prune than blackberry. Very little sign of astringency once cooler. 8.3/10.