Reviews of coffee shops and roasters in Hawaii.

Hayman Coffee Review

Hayman Coffee is a London roaster that currently offers four coffees for purchase on their website: Jamaica Blue Mountain, Hawaii Kona, Panama Geisha, and their Award-Winning Brazilian coffee. When they asked me to review their coffee, I’ll admit that I was a little hesitant. A cursory glance at their website showed me that they offer Nescafe coffee pods as a purchasing option. I’ve wrote extensively about how I think coffee pods should die, and (in my experience) when a company offers them as a way to experience their product, what they’re really saying is “our coffee isn’t that good.”

Not only did Hayman prove me dead wrong, but they impressed me with an elegance not often found in American specialty coffee.

The Snapshot

Hayman Coffee is based in London, England and has been around since 2014. On their website they don’t say a ton about themselves, electing to instead educate customers on what Third Wave Coffee and specialty coffee is, and why that matters. I actually appreciate this; some companies get so caught up in “their story” that they tend to forget how they fit into the larger coffee community. This doesn’t seem to be a problem for Hayman.

Hayman Coffee’s selections are few in number, but great in price. As noted above, they offer just four coffees for purchase. As of the writing of this review, three of these four are available as whole bean, ground, and coffee pods. Notably, their Award-Winning Brazilian is only available in pods. You can purchase their Jamaica, Kona, and Panama Geisha in two sizes: 85g/3oz or 190g/6.7oz. Prices vary by coffee, but generally speaking its $35-$40 for the 85g size, and $50-$60 for the 190g size.

Keep in mind that a standard bag of coffee contains about 12oz, or roughly 340g of beans. A 12oz bag of Stumptown’s Hair Bender costs $15, while a higher-end specialty coffee like Onyx’s El Salvador Finca Santa Rosa Honey is $22.50 for a 12oz bag. You could buy two bags of Onyx beans and pay less money than for one 6.7oz portion of Hayman’s Jamaica Blue Mountain beans. That’s a huge gap, and it means most people wouldn’t be able to afford buying Hayman’s products regularly.

Hayman does score points in the presentation department. The coffees they sent me were packed in nice little boxes complete with cards outlining specifics about each coffee (growing altitude, tasting notes, etc). The coffees themselves were in inflated plastic tubes, likely filled with nitrogen (as this helps coffee stay fresh longer). I really enjoyed the elegant presentation, and it helped establish the kind of company Hayman is in my mind.

Hayman set a high bar for themselves to live up to; a premium look and price better come with a premium product. So how does their coffee taste?

The Coffee

I was sent Hayman’s Hawaii Kona and Jamaica Blue Mountain for this review, and in my tests both coffees completely lived up to the specialty standard. With that being said, they were not the kind of coffees that I would pay $60 for. I enjoyed both coffees, but I likely won’t be purchasing more for my weekly habit.

I brewed both coffees using a variety of methods, but focused mostly on the Hario v60, Chemex, and Clever. Here’s the breakdown:

Hawaii Kona

Elevation: 550-700m

Processing: Wet

Acidity: Low/Med

Aroma Notes: Sweet, smooth, balanced.

Tasting Notes: Cereal; Malt, Cocoa; Chocolate, Nutty; Almond.

Review: Because of previous experiences with Hawaiian coffees not living up to the hype, I expected to hate this coffee. I liked it. I didn’t love it, but I liked it. It had the earthy, buttery, and chocolatey notes that I would expect from an island coffee, but it also had some muddy malt notes that weren’t as pleasant. It’s a washed coffee, so any more exotic flavors were probably muted in processing – still, it’s a balanced cup with low/medium acidity that’s pleasant to sip on.

Purchase Link for Hawaii Kona

Jamaica Blue Mountain

Elevation: 900-1700m

Processing: Wet

Acidity: Med/High

Aroma Notes: Sweet, nutty

Tasting Notes: Nutty; Hazelnut/Walnut, Brown Spice; Clove

Review: This was a delicious coffee. It had pleasant acidity, and while there were no fruit/berry notes, the acidity worked well with more nutty/brown spice flavors. Brewing in the Hario v60 brought out some really interesting light floral notes which were especially noticeable closer to the roasting date. I preferred a 1:16.5 brew ratio to get great clarity out of this coffee.

Purchase Link for Jamaica Blue Mountain

Both of these coffees are from well known islands that have adapted over time to meet tourist demands for coffee. Today, you can find both Kona beans and Jamaican beans that run the gambit from terrible to absolutely incredible. I’m happy to say that the beans Hayman sent me are closer to the “incredible” side of that spectrum.

Of the two coffees I tried I much preferred the Jamaica Blue Mountain. As a fan of higher acidity, this coffee spoke my love language. It had some subtle floral notes every once in a while, but was dominated primarily by a beautiful mix of nut and sweet spice flavors. This coffee was delicious in both the Clever and Hario v60, but I only ever experienced floral notes when brewing with the v60.

The Hawaii Kona coffee was good, but it wasn’t great. It did completely exceed my expectations, however, and for that I was happy. With deeper, chocolate flavors to compliment smooth, balanced aromatics, I was never disappointed when brewing this coffee. I preferred this in a Clever – letting the beans steep a little gave some complexity to otherwise flatter flavors.

Time-lapse of brewing with my Hario v60.

Final Thoughts

There’s no doubt that Hayman sells quality specialty coffee. The beans spoke for themselves – I enjoyed every cup I brewed. They’ve also nailed presentation: their packaging was pristine and their brand just gives off a premium vibe. Where they fail, however, is with the price.

I don’t have any insights as to what kind of profit Hayman makes on their coffee – I know that great beans from Hawaii and Jamaica can’t be cheap to import, and I imagine that’s one factor for raising the price. Still, charging $60 for 190g of coffee is just too much for too little. If I’m the type of person who would pay a premium for great beans (and I am), I’d much rather purchase a couple bags of 12oz beans for $40-$50.

I recommend trying Hayman Coffee if – and only if – you have some extra money to burn. They roast and sell high quality coffee that I really enjoyed drinking. I think you’ll like it too, even if your wallet doesn’t.


Organo Gold and Marina Hina

I’m not a fan of instant coffee. If I drink instant coffee I only do so as a last last last resort. In fact, about 90% of the time I’d rather not drink anything as opposed to drinking instant coffee. Starbucks Via is probably my one exception to this rule; even then, I always hesitate before opening one of their packets and ask myself “do I really want to do this?”

When I contacted Marina Terwilliger to do a review of her coffee, I had never heard of Organo Gold. However, I frequently am on the lookout for different kinds of coffee sources – whether they are local coffee shops or online stores. This seemed like a great way to branch out and try something new.

On her website – marinahina.com – where she sells her products, Marina says:

Starting with a couple things I’m passionate about, health and sewing, Marina Hina hats and coffee was born. Enjoy the sunhats designed and handcrafted in Hawaii and the the coffee brought to you by Organo Gold.

While her “SPF Sun Hats” section has yet to go live, the coffee portion of her website is very much up and running. The brand she is selling? Organo Gold. Like I said, Organo Gold coffee was foreign to me – I had never heard of it and because of this, decided to do a little research before I received my review sample.

The front page of Organo Gold’s website boasts quotes like “Change your coffee, change your life” and “The coffee that makes you feel good.” Their about page goes on to explain:

“Organo Gold is on a mission, spreading the knowledge of Ganoderma to the four corners of the world. By using the cost effective network distribution system to deliver these Ganoderma products, more of every dollar is shared with our growing Organo Gold family world-wide.”

That’s all fine and dandy, but what the heck is Ganoderma, and why does this about page sound like a philosophy textbook?

Basically, ganoderma is a type of fungi used in various types of eastern medicine. It is said to have anticancer effects, protect against radiation-induced damage, and also have antioxidant effects (according to Wikipedia).

Essentially, Organo Gold is coffee infused with ganoderma extract, made available in an instant-packet form factor. The idea is that it is coffee that is good for you. More than that, Organo Gold is the type of thing that you can sell from your home to your friends and family if you are interested in becoming involved with their company.

Here at BoiseCoffee we are all for health benefits, invigorated immune systems, and life longevity. That being said, this is not a health blog, and I’m not here to tell you whether or not Organo Gold will change your life. What I am here to do is tell you whether or not their coffee tastes good and is enjoyable. So, when I opened my first packet of Organo Gold instant latte, that’s exactly what I set out to discover.

I received three types of Organo Gold products from Marina: Gourmet Cafe Latte, Gourmet Cafe Mocha, and Gourmet Black Coffee.

When I opened the latte packet I found a brownish white powder with no visible hint of the ganoderma extract that existed within. When I combined this powder with hot water, then kicked back to sate my curiosity, I was initially not impressed. The beverage had an earthy, mildy sweet taste, but in no way resembled a latte. Looking at the ingredients I found that there was indeed some kind of dairy in the powder, but any taste remotely resembling a latte was not to be found. However, I found that the drink got better as I drank it. By the end of the beverage I was enjoying it – not because it tasted like a latte, or really even coffee, but because it had a very coffee-esque quality: it was an acquired taste. Once I got used to the initial shock, I found that the drink was actually enjoyable.

The mocha was similar in this regard. The mocha packet contained much more powder than did the latte packet. I mixed it with the same amount of hot water, however, and it proved to be the correct ratio. Upon tasting, the drink revealed itself to not be very sweet. Or, at least, it wasn’t as sweet as I expected it to be – an expectation that existed mostly because it carried the “mocha” monocher that I generally associate with something sweet…like, say, chocolate. It was, however, initially more tasty than the “latte” flavor, and I think that had to do with my expectations being better met. It was a much closer drink to the title that its packet professed. In consistency it was slightly creamy, but clearly water based. Initially it actually kind of felt like a mocha was in my mouth, but quickly the watery taste set in after the initial impression had run its course. Towards the end the mocha was actually quite good. My last gulp left me desiring just one more sip, which is definitely a good thing.

In both the mocha and the latte there was a foreign taste present. I can only assume that this belonged to the ganoderma extract. It wasn’t exactly bad tasting, nor did it necessarily detract from the overall flavor of the drinks. Yet it was definitely present, and definitely not coffee.

It should be noted that 30 minutes after drinking the mocha I got what can only be described as a huge caffeine rush. I’m not sure if this was a combination of doing Physics homework at 1am and drinking coffee, or if the coffee just has a high caffeine content. It was glorious for getting work done, however.

I have little to note about the black coffee. It had a much better initial taste than the latte. Again, I think that’s because my expectations were better met. It too contained the foreign taste of the praised fungi, but proved to be the beverage that stood out least to me – for better or worse.

Overall I have to admit that Organo Gold was much better than I initially anticipated. I was expecting gross instant coffee and what I got instead was an entertaining beverages that left me desiring more at the end (and possibly even had health benefits). People who are hooked on instant coffee would find Organo Gold to be a happy alternative to their favorite brand. Those who aren’t, and prefer traditional brewing methods, may not appreciate Organo Gold for what it is but will also not necessarily be let down by its taste or consistency. I recommend that these people try the mocha flavor if they are looking to branch out.

Health-focused people may also find value in the supposed benefits that Organo Gold has as opposed to a typical instant coffee brand.

Me? I’ll stick to my french press and espresso, but keep Organo Gold in the back of my head in case I ever find myself in the position where I’m shopping for instant coffee.

If you are planning on purchasing Organo Gold, please do it through Marina Hina’s store here.

The Coffee Guy

P.S. Marina does her own writing about coffee here. Check it out!