As part of my decision to travel somewhere every month since September 2016, I went with three girlfriends for a week on the Island of Maui, Hawaii, in late January 2017. These are the photos and tales of my Hawaii adventures.
"You are putting too much coffee in!"
"Don't add so much water."
"You gotta give this one stir clockwise, and then another counter clockwise."
"Are you sure this is right? It looks like muddy rain water..."
We were all huddled around the French Press, our elbows and stomachs uncomfortably pressed into the green picnic table. Around us, the Hawaii sky was just coming into its own, a mix of strong sunlight and gentle rain. We were nearly holding our breaths with anticipation, waiting for the black liquid gold to come pouring into our cups. Four women, seven opinions, one pot of coffee. What could ever go wrong?
But first, let's back up. On our first full day in Hawaii, we took one of the world's most scenic drives, the road to Hana. Stuffed into a fully equipped VW Westphalia camper van named Ruby, we were anxious to explore Maui's nooks and crannies, and the road's 617 hairpin turns and 110 single-lane bridges. Plus all of the fruit stands it had to offer.
Somewhere along our search for fruit stands, we all became desperate for some coffee. But nothing struck our fancy among the dozens of gaudy, overpainted shacks that hid in all potential stops along the famous road. They all felt like tourist traps, and after all, we were savvy world travellers... We could do better, we thought.
And then we saw it. Decked in fairy lights and topped with a freshly painted green roof, Hana Harvest stood on a muddy hill somewhere near Hana itself (I am not so good with directions). The long bar tables outside were made out of barely finished wood, and flowers stood in Mason jar pots everywhere the eye could see. In other words, it looked like an Instagram photo waiting to happen.
Naturally, we walked in.
We learned that Hana Harvest has just opened a few weeks ago, a total newbie when it came to the cutthroat world of Hana Road commerce. The two proprietors were two young, beautiful women who were born, raised and now worked in the farms in East Maui. They were passionate about their local products, and couldn't wait to tell us about the fruit smoothies they made fresh daily. Well, one of them couldn't wait... her partner was clearly the silent, brooding type.
"Yes, but here's the thing. We want to buy a bag of ground coffee for the week. Do you have something like that?" I asked.
I had no idea what I was in for.
"Boy, do we ever. But it's not just any coffee. We are the sole carrier in the world of Maui Estate Coffee, located in nearby Kula, HI. That coffee is extremely unique - it is harvest and grown entirely by hand, by a husband and wife team. They do all the roasting, as well. They just won second place in the Maui Cupping Competition. This is actually the only place in the world where you can buy this coffee, simply because there isn't enough of this to go around."
You can imagine my reaction. My eyes grew bigger with each uttered word, shining with a fervour usually reserved for religious experience. For a food blogger, this lady's words were mana - hyper-local, organic, hand-grown, husband and wife team, superb taste. Sweeter words have never been spoken.
"And how much is a bag?"
"Well, because it's so unique, it's $39. USD."
For 8 oz.
So you can imagine why, when we all huddled around that French Press the following morning, we actually held our breaths as the coffee steeped.
At about $2 a cup, this coffee was by far the most luxurious java we were ever going to taste.
And the taste? Well, I am no fan of the French Press, but even that could transmit the taste of the beans: rich, mellow, almost caramel-like. The coffee was strong and beautiful, and it helped revive our spirits each morning.
And the best part is, we saved some to take home - where I put it into reusable pods and made myself a cup of espresso. And that, dear reader, was definitely the way to go.
* * *
Photo by Meredith Pind
Besides coffee, our second day in Maui included a hike to the Seven Sacred Pools, where our eyes feasted on the most beautiful vista I've ever seen within the first ten minutes, and ended up on a hike that took us through a magical bamboo forest. Some of us jumped off cliffs into the ocean, while others took a dip in the Venus Pools. We made new friends, bought coconuts from the side of the road, and ate THE BEST mahi mahi tacos at Braddah Huts, a highly recommended food truck on the side of the road by the Venus Pools area.
Just look how happy I am eating them.
But after dedicating over 700 words to telling you about coffee, I feel like I need to save some stories for next time.