Kohana Coffee recently sent a few of their products my way; we’re going to be spending time with them for the duration of this week.
First up on the docket is their signature blend – the aptly named Kohana Blend. This blend is meant to be inspired by the smells and flavors of the Hawaiian islands and is a combination of coffees from three different regions (featuring three different roast profiles – light, medium, and dark! For some reason!): the Arokora from Papua New Guinea, a Monsoon Malabar from India, and a Yellow Caturra from Maui, Hawaii.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Kohana Blend, from Kohana Coffee in Austin, Texas. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Maui, Hawaii // Eastern Highlands, Papua New Guinea // Malabar Coast, India
producer: smallholder farmers
association: N/A // Arokora // N/A
elevation: N/A // 1300 – 1600 // 1100 meters above sea level
cultivars: Yellow Caturra // Typica, Bourbon, Arusha // Kent, S795, Cauwery
process: fully washed
Before get into reviewing the Kohana Blend, I feel obligated to say something about the coffee visually: this is the most bizarrely roasted and blended coffee I’ve ever seen. Besides being somewhat oily, the beans look like a mixture of dark chocolate and peanut butter chips. Half are a bit over-roasted and half are under-roasted; looks the over-roasted were taken just past second crack and the under- were taken just under first crack.
The Kohana Blend’s aroma is a complex mixture of floral aromatics, dark chocolate, spices, nuts, and roast.
My first few sips of the coffee, while it’s still piping hot, aren’t all that great. The flavor profile, predictably, is a perfect mirror of its roast profile—it’s a bizarre blend of over- and under-developed flavors. There is quite a bit of roast up front. Between those roasty elements—carbon, smoke, metal—I’m tasting notes of bittersweet dark chocolate, cinnamon, clove, and almond butter.
As the cup cools off, the the profile flips—the roasty elements take the backseat to the coffee’s natural flavors. The roast doesn’t disappear, but it definitely fades into the background. Now the most prominent tasting notes are wild flowers and juicy, silky flavors of green grape, raisin, red delicious apple (particularly the bitterness of the delicious’s peel). Don’t mistake these notes for a delicious finish in the cup, though – these flavors are very, very subdued; not nearly as bright nor intense as they ought to be.
Full body; silky mouthfeel; malic acidity; dry finish.
As soon as I poured the coffee onto the scale and saw its absolutely bizarre roast profile, I knew I was in for a wild ride. Kohana Coffee’s signature blend is a confused mishmash of over- and under-developed flavors that just weren’t the sweet, bright, and lively tropical fruit experience I was hoping for.
Instead, the cup was at once roasty and starchy; earthy, musty, herbaceous and limey. Too much PNG and Monsoon Malabar, not enough Maui. On that note, if your goal is to create a flavor inspired by the Hawaiian islands, why would you put PNG and Malabar in the blend in the first place? When I think of Hawaii, I don’t think of the harsh, savory, herbaceous flavors so common in those two regions – I think bright, tropical, lively, fruity, juicy. Further, the two extremes of the components’ roast profiles did not meet in the middle or cancel each other out – they just made the cup twice as unpleasant and provided a sensory overload on the palate.
Kohana Blend’s flavor is a perfect mirror of the blend’s components and their roast profiles: a bit too all over the place to be cohesively good.
Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.