/files/World.Barista.Championship.LO_.teaser.png" alt="Lori Obra - Rusty's Hawaiian Coffee" title="Lori Obra - Rusty's Hawaiian Coffee" align="left" height="309" hspace="5" width="438" />The World Barista Championship is nearing us and it’s time we got to know some of the contestants who represent the US. Before we do that, however, I’d like to get you acquainted with Lori Obra, of Rusty’s Hawaiian Coffee. Why, you ask? Well, for one she’s got great personality. But more importantly, it’s with the help of her coffee that Pete Licata was crowned the 2011 US Barista Champion. And yes, we’ll be featuring Pete’s story soon as well.
If you’re from the Mainland United State, I’m willing to go large and assume that you’ve fantasized about taking a trip to paradise and vacationing in Hawaii at least once in your life. And if you’re a coffee enthusiast, you’ve most likely tried a Kona coffee of sorts. Whether you liked it or not, of course, was completely dependent on the quality of the coffee you tried. Let’s take this fantasy one step further. Let’s assume that you made it to Hawaii. You even made it to the main island of Hawaii (a.k.a the Big Island). You saw the volcano, walked across the black sand and considered catching some waves along the coast. But here’s the real kicker, did you ever consider visiting a coffee farm in Hawaii?
Between May 14-15, the third annual Ka’u Coffee Festival will take place and as part of the fun, Lori will take part in the coffee tasting section. Just so you understand her caliber, Rusty’s Hawaiian Coffee was the 2010 Grand Champion for the Hawaii Coffee Association in the Cupping Competition. And this year, as I already mentioned, Rusty’s supplied Pete Licata (the US Barista champ) with his winning coffee.
Rusty’s is a small coffee farm that spans 12 acres. In 1999, this farm was really an overgrown field, a “pale reminder of Hawaii’s old sugar cane industry.” Rusty and Lori, who came to Hawaii from New Jersey following an early retirement, decided to plant some Arabica coffee beans, of the Bourbon, Guatemala Typica, Red Caturra and Yellow Caturra vairetals. They hit the jackpot, as Hawaii has ideal growing conditions for coffee and furthermore, the Obra couple have a chemistry background so they were able to perfect the processing and roasting methods, turning their farm into 100% pure and quality Ka’u coffee.
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Sadly, in 2006 Rusty passed away and Lori was left to decide whether to storm the farm on her own or abandon ship. She braved it out and today she’s a prime expert on cultivating coffee. In my opinion, part of what makes her so successful is the fact that she’s devoted to perfecting the flavor of the coffee and goes to great lengths when growing her coffees, testing and tasting batch upon batch, in an effort to ensure the end product is outstanding.
For such gumption, you can’t help but respect the effort. Lori & the Rusty’s Hawaiian Coffee team in Hawaii, we admire your determination and hope that your farm will grow in years to come. For our blog loyalists, expect a short video clip with Lori soon!
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