Hawaiian Airlines Inflight magazine has an in depth story on the fast changing business of Kona coffee. Kona coffee while highly prized by coffee geeks, is very smooth and has little punch. A coffee expert there says, “what coffee geeks consider the best coffees aren’t all that cherished by non-coffee geeks.”
R. Miguel Meza, a coffee roaster from Minneapolis, is changing all that. He was brought in by a Kona coffee plantation and he has revolutionized the business. He did it by rethinking how to process coffee.
The fruit of the coffee tree, known as the cherry, is normally soaked and washed after picking to help remove the sticky casing—the mucilage—from around the seed. It was Meza’s idea to sun-bake the mucilage, increasing the risk of a putrid mess but also allowing all that fermenting sugar to be absorbed. He called his creation Hula Daddy Kona Sweet and sent a batch off to Coffee Review, the über-geeky score sheet that rates coffee, like wine, on a scale up to 100. When founding co-editor Kenneth Davids awarded Hula Daddy Kona Sweet a 97—the highest score that any Hawai’i coffee has ever earned and a tie for the highest score (with four African coffees and two Panamanians) that Davids has ever awarded—the legend of R. Miguel Meza was sealed.