Brewing Kona Coffee

Brewing Kona Coffee

Brewing Kona Coffee with an auto drip machine. 


This is the most popular method of brewing coffee in America, but perhaps it is so common, that the taste can sometimes become bland, boring or plain when compared to a french press, espresso or cappuccino. Nevertheless, I have offered some instructions and tips to making your auto-drip machine brew extraordinary, by taking every step that you can to increase the quality of your brew for your tasting pleasure.



Tips to make your auto-drip machine brew the best it can be:

  • Try to use non-paper filters. Stainless Steel is a popular choice. Hemp or natural paper filters are popular alternatives to standard paper filters. However, you may find that paper filters make your coffee taste like someone added paper flavor to it!
  • Become accustomed to grinding your own coffee. Become familiar with what an auto-drip grind looks like. Coarse Grind is for French Press extraction, and making your coffee too fine will make your coffee over-extracted, or bitter. Even though some people use over-grinding as a way to make their bag of coffee go further-i-e. more cups brewed per pound– this is a bad idea. There is play available in the ballpark of auto-drip grind, depending on if you are using stainless steel or paper filters. You can always remember the rule that a finer grind will make your coffee stronger and a coarser grind will make your coffee weaker. Use this and your water levels to adjust the strength of your coffee. Also note that some burr-grinders (the kind in the supermarkets) may not be adjusted properly and may give an incorrect grind. If you know what the coffee grind should look like, you will never brew a bad pot of coffee due to a grind issue. Also, do a “test grind”, if possible, to watch the outcome of a certain grind setting. It is likened to applying only a spot of detergent to your expensive clothes, to see make sure that the “new detergent” doesn’t ruin your clothes. Make sure you don’t erroneously grind your whole bag too coarse or too fine! Below are a few pictures of what the different grinds look like to give you an idea of the difference.

This is an image of what an espresso grind looks like.



This is what an auto-drip grind looks like.




This is an image of French Press (coarse) grind. 

  • Always use filtered water, as impurities in hard water may affect the flavor of your coffee adversely. Make sure that your water does have minerals in it, as your complex coffee flavors do need trace minerals in the water to develop correctly. Avoid distilled water for this reason. In brewing classes, a great deal of time is spent covering the purity of water. In places where gourmet coffee is served, people who brew coffee will bring with them pure water to brew coffee rather than use the tap water available. Do try to make sure that your water is as pure as possible, with a good taste, as this is the basis of your brew.
  • Always use the recommended amount of coffee for brewing in the filter. After you have tasted the recommended extraction, you can deviate to your preferred taste. Note that a cup is usually 4 oz. and one teaspoon of coffee is used for each cup. Every coffee maker will have a recommended usage, and we suggest following the basic instructions until you get a feel for where you want to go.

Brewing Kona Coffee with a French Press


French Press by its very nature is paperless, so the process will not include a paper taste–ever. A French Press is an inexpensive piece of equipment and is a traditional manual method brewing or serving coffee. In essence, the coffee is coarsely grinded and left to sit in hot water for approximately four minutes. This allows the hot water to be fully imbued with the nuances of the coffee flavor and does allow for complete control over your brew. The only down-side to this method of brewing is that you will have increased body (the feel of a thicker brew) in your coffee due to the direct extraction method. ie. you may think that there is too much coffee grounds in the French press brew.



Tips to make your French Press brew the best it can be:

  • Try to use the coarsest grind possible to prevent any undue sediment on the bottom of your cup of coffee. Even the best grinders will create some fine grinds, so do expect to have a little sediment on the bottom of your cup. You can always go coarser in your grind to eliminate sediment in your cup, you may however, need to steep longer to adjust for the coarser grind. This happens because you are creating less surface area, as more coffee is hidden behind the exposed surface (i.e. bigger chunks), and so the water needs to stay in contact with the grounds longer to get the desired extraction (brew). However, you can only go so coarse, so do expect increased body to your brew.
  • You can play with your extraction times depending on how strong you like your coffee. Four minutes is the recommended time for steeping on some out-of-the box instruction manuals (please check your brand’s recommended extraction time). You can go as far as six minutes to gain the most strength or less to have a weaker brew.
  • You can invest in a small digital timer to alert you of when the brewing time is up. Adding in some scientific tools such as a timepiece can be very helpful to create your own flavor profiles that you can rely on brew after brew.

Extracting a Kona Espresso

This picture displays Mountain Thunder’s Rancillio Espresso machine. Kona Espresso is strong extraction of Kona Coffee which is smooth and buttery with lessened bitterness from your standard origin espresso– truly a espresso coffee connoisseurs delight

Espresso extraction is known for its strong flavor and exceptional crema. The emulsified oils in a Kona espresso lend towards a truly buttery, full bodied flavor that you won’t forget. Preparing an espresso take practice. You will need to repeat the process many times before you are comfortable making a good espresso.

Espresso is one of the most difficult ways to brew Kona Coffee. This is why they have given a name to people who brew espresso’s professionally. The name given to these highly experienced people are barristas. In most every region, there are barrista competitions, where the most skilled barrista is awarded with the appropriate distinction or title. In any community, people know where the best espresso’s are brewed. Brewing espresso is taken very seriously and no matter how good you are, you will always find someone better.

Our Organic Vienna 100% Kona makes for a good coffee to prepare for espresso. Remember that Kona’s don’t need to be burnt to taste good. For this reason, Mountain Thunder’s roasts are a little lighter than what you would normally associate with French or Vienna roasts. Contrary to what may seem apparent in Kona, espresso is better tasting when using a lighter roast coffee. This, of course, is a matter of opinion and not everyone agrees. Since the brewing nature of espresso is high heat/pressure, you will be emulsifying the coffee oil, and the coffee oil in the lighter roasts have not been brought to the outside of the bean, which brings out a better crema & extraction.

All in all, you will be pleased with your Kona in espresso form. As it contains a complex flavor that includes emulsified coffee oil, also known as crema. If you have been on a Mountain Thunder tour, you will have had coffee prepared espresso style, and will have tasted the supreme smoothness that this preparation provides. Espresso is known as a way to really taste a coffee, or a way to see what the true potential of a coffee is. If you want to duplicate the exact brew that you get on a Mountain Thunder tour, use either a Saeco Magic Deluxe espresso maker or a Rancillio Professional Espresso maker.

Tips to make your Espresso extraction the best it can be:

  • You will want to purchase a good quality espresso machine for home use. If you are lucky, you will have access to a commercial or light-commercial espresso machine, which will provide increasing levels of espresso complexity and flavor.
  • As with all extractions, you will want to guarantee that your water is free of any excessive “hard” qualities and excessive mineral levels. You will, however want to make sure you water does contain some minerals in order to prepare the best espresso. Distilled water is to be avoided, as it will not create the flavor you are looking for.
  • The most basic and most important rule to remember when brewing an espresso is to keep in mind the 30 second extraction or “pull” rule. Although some people use variations of this rule. You want to adjust your grind so that a extraction or “pull” time of 30 seconds yields a 1.5 ounce, (shot glass) extraction. To get the best results, you want to find the grind that yields exactly 1.5 oz in 30 seconds. Your Kona espresso grind will need to be specially adjusted, as it might be different from any other origin bean /or blend espresso you may be using in your household.
  • When you are grinding your coffee, you will want to use your freshly ground coffee within one minute of grinding. For the most extreme austerity and attention to detail, all coffee ground and more than a few minutes old is discarded. Espresso shops, known for their exceptional espresso pulls, will adhere to this rule. As a result, they consistently hold up to the most scrutinizing judges, connoisseurs and customers need for the perfect cup of espresso. You may or may not want to hold yourself to this rule, but you will find that freshly ground coffee tastes better. Only grind to use. Obviously, you don’t want to go overboard when grinding, as you will waste your precious coffee if you do.
  • Another very important gauge in making the perfect cup of espresso is color. The ideal color is a dark reddish crema. If the crema gets lighter in color you will need to adjust your timing (although you should never allow more than 30 seconds on your pull) or your grind. You may even need to adjust your tamping. Remember, if you are not getting a dark reddish crema, you are doing it wrong.
  • Dosing and tamping your espresso is very important. You want to dose your coffee over the brim of your port i-filter and then level off with your finger. Next, you want to use your tamper and apply the following sequence : Tap once with full pressure and spin your tamper slightly to create a smooth surface. How do you know what the correct level of pressure “feels like”? A young, strong girl in her 20’s describes 20 Lbs. of pressure as the hardest she can go without breaking the port i-filter. Another very important aspect of tapping is that you need a very even, smooth surface on your port i-filter. If you have any pits, you will need to discard your grinds or add more and tap again. You can take your time at first while learning, but a professional espresso maker can do all the grinding, dosing, tapping and extracting in 35 seconds flat.

Please do enjoy your brew and don’t forget to have a good time!