About Rusty's Hawaiian Coffee
Awarded one of the top 18 coffees in the world in 2013 by Coffee Review.
Awarded one of the 10 best green coffees in the world 2012.
Partnered with 2011 World Barista Champion Pete Licata for a winning espresso.
Winner of 2010 and 2011 Hawaii Coffee Association Statewide Cupping Competition.
Five 94+ scores since 2010.
ABOUT RUSTY'S HAWAIIAN COFFEE
When Rusty and Lorie Obra started their Hawaiian coffee farm in 1999, they stumbled upon an award-winning coffee region. Of course, they didn’t know it at the time. The couple simply wanted to live in the Ka‘u District, the southern side of the Big Island known for the Green Sand Beach near Ka Lae (South Point), the Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach, and the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Rusty, a retired chemist, arrived first. He took over 12 acres of an old sugarcane farm on the slope of the Mauna Loa volcano and started planting coffee trees. Lorie, a medical technologist, soon sold their New Jersey home and followed him to Hawaii.
The couple quickly expanded their business to become farmers, processors and roasters of coffee. Because of their science background, the two ran their farm like a laboratory. They started testing different processing methods and roasts, looking for ones that would bring out the best flavors in their coffee.
Then Rusty died in 2006, leaving Lorie at a crossroads. Could she handle the business — with all of its manual labor — on her own? Lorie thought about selling the farm, but she couldn’t let go of Rusty’s dream: to make Ka‘u coffee some of the best in the world.
In 2007, Ka‘u was vindicated at the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s annual conference. Two of Lorie’s fellow farmers in the Ka‘u Coffee Growers Cooperative won 6th and 9th place in the Roaster’s Guild Cupping Pavilion Competition. That same year, Rusty’s Hawaiian was one of seven farms that ranked in the SCAA’s top 10 Hawaii/Asia/Indonesia regional competition.
The awards caught the eye of R. Miguel Meza, then the roastmaster of Paradise Coffee Roasters in Ramsey, Minn. After evaluating the cooperative’s coffee, he was convinced Ka‘u had great potential. So Miguel did a crazy thing: He left Minnesota and moved to the Big Island of Hawaii. Eager to work with coffee from the tree to the cup, Miguel became a consultant for the Ka‘u Coffee Growers Cooperative. With his guidance and encouragement, Lorie refined her processing experiments and roasting techniques.
The result? Accolades for Rusty’s Hawaiian coffees — and more steps toward realizing Rusty’s dream:
Top score (95 points) in “Coffee Review’s” July 2009 article: “Botany and the Cup: The Bourbon Conundrum”
Tied for the top score (92 points) in Coffee Review’s March 2010 article: “Island Coffees: Hawaii and the Caribbean”
Top score (95 points) in Coffee Review’s Nov. 2010 article: “Brandy and Surprises: The New Naturals”
Winner of the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe’s 2010 Outstanding Producer Award Grand Champion of the Hawaii Coffee Association’s 2010 and 2011 statewide cupping competitions
Worked with Pete Licata, the 2011 United States Barista Champion and 2nd-place competitor in the 2011 World Barista Championship, on his fruit-to-cup competition coffee
Earned a top spot in the 2012 Roasters Guild Coffees of the Year competition — the largest annual contest for green coffee. Experienced judges cupped and thoroughly evaluated more than 250 entries from the 2011/2012 crop. Only 10 coffees in the world are on the 2012 winners list.
As Rusty’s Hawaiian earned recognition, demand for our products grew. So in March 2011, Joan Obra and Ralph Gaston (Lorie’s daughter and son-in-law), moved to Hawaii to join the company. Both former journalists, they are the chief storytellers of Rusty’s Hawaiian. To best understand (and tell) the Rusty’s Hawaiian story, they’re tackling everything — from picking fresh coffee cherries to shipping bags of beans.
Finally, Lorie’s son, Rusty Obra, is exploring coffee from the culinary point of view. Armed with a degree from New York City’s French Culinary Institute and more than a decade of experience in hotels and restaurants, he’s known for incorporating coffee into foie gras and cured bacon. Rusty is the sous chef at the Blue Morel Restaurant and Wine Bar in Morristown, NJ. When he isn’t cooking dinner, he’s sharing the speciality coffee experience with customers through tastings and cuppings.