Learned how to brew delicious coffee by Mathew of Rusty’s Hawaiian

Learned how to brew delicious coffee by Mathew of Rusty’s Hawaiian

If you think about Hawaiian coffee, the first thing that would come to mind is Kona coffee. But did you know there is another coffee called Ka’u coffee is getting popular among the coffee lovers? Made in the Ka’u district of the Big Island, which is on the same island as Kona, the area used to be known as a region for sugarcane. Now thanks to a farm named Rusty’s Hawaiian, this district is now known for coffee. Several of Rusty’s Hawaiian coffees have earned 95-point scores in Coffee Review: The World’s Leading Coffee-Buying Guide.  The founder, Rusty, and his wife Lorie Obra had committed to endless experimentation in learning how to make great coffee. “Dark roast” is usually bitter and strong for my taste, but their dark roast was completely different from usual. Today, we learned how to brew delicious Ka’u coffee from Matthew and Danielle who are Honolulu sales representatives from Rusty’s Hawaiian.

I was a person who didn’t care about the taste of coffee even though I drank a lot. Sometimes, I even brewed a second cup from the grounds I had previously used to make the first cup (It tastes disgusting). But after I learned from them, I wanted to know more about coffee and the steps of making the perfect cup. Even though I wasn’t too peculiar about the taste, I liked coffee, and I also liked the brewing process. I think it has a relaxing effect. Of course coffee you get from cafe is good but going through the process of grinding the beans, pouring the hot water and watching the water drip down to the glass is like a feeling of zen.

Actually when I was working in Japan I was busy at my office during the day and always pressed for time, but I felt refreshed and enjoyed the time when I brewed the coffee in the staff kitchen and watched the water seep through the coffee filter.

Anyways, if you drink coffee you want to have a good one. The way that we learned from Mathew and Danielle was really simple and easy. The equipment and materials needed are also simple and easy to get. Regular coffee time will turn into more luxury time!


  • Grinder
  • Dripper
  • Paper filter
  • Coffee kettle


First, let’s check if you have things for brewing. If you want a best taste coffee, it’s better to grind the beans right before brewing. But it might be little bit troublesome and you might have coffee already ground. I also don’t have a grinder right now, but I am sure to buy one since I want to drink fresh coffee. Just to tell you, Matthew’s grinder was a hand grinder by Kalita. It’s classic design and looks cool with well thumbed wood. It is as good as a kitchen interior. I wondered how much it is and checked on amazon, but it was just about 47 dollars. He says we can use electric one too.

Next thing we need is dripper. It was a regular plastic one.
Then paper filter. Looks like it’s also okay with a normal type.
And last one is a coffee kettle. This is important. As you know, the kettle for brewing coffee has a thin pour spout but do you know the reason? I will write about how to brew later but a thin pour spout is important for controlling the water. I am using a dripper on the coffee cup at home but I didn’t have a kettle for coffee and just poured hot water from a regular kettle at a stroke. Now I regret that I have been doing it since it ruins the taste even if I use a good coffee.



Rusty's coffee Matthew

Grinding beans

Dripper stand Matthew and Danielle brought. Of course you don’t have to have this to make great coffee.

Easy step for brewing

    1. Pour hot water on the paper filter.
      Haven’t you skipped this process? The taste of the coffee is very delicate so it is different if you clean the paper once. It will take off the smell and flavor of paper. Dump the water after dripping down.
    2. Put the ground coffee in the paper filter.
      One and quarter scoop for one cup coffee. Water temperature should be about 197 degrees Fahrenheit (92 degrees Celsius)
    3. Pour water along the side of grounds.
      Usually it is said “from the center”, but with his style, you want to make sure you pour the water along the side of the grounds. It has to be even. You don’t want to pour water over the same spot excessively. They say balance is really important. And don’t put too much water in at a time. You pour the water until top of the grounds are covered and when it goes through, you pour again.
    4. Finish when the side runs up.

When you see there is lower spot, it means you can pour more water there.

This is the secret how to make delicious coffee. I guess there are various ways for brewing but his coffee was definitely good. Of course Rusty’s coffee is a high quality but seems like to watch the process of brewing is also adding the special flavor. I hope you try this during your work and relaxing time on the weekend!

Interview :  Laurence Kiyohiro from Aloha Aid

Interview : Laurence Kiyohiro from Aloha Aid

Laurence image

Today we interviewed Mr. Laurence Kiyohiro, the owner of Aloha Aid. He talked about the concept, expectation and the reason of starting his bandage, which is designed and sold by himself.

Profile : Laurence Kiyohiro,  Founder of Aloha Aid and also graphic designer. Majored in Graphic design and Psychology at college. Started Aloha Aid in 2012.

Web : http://alohaaid.com


It was about half a year ago that I found his bandage for the first time. I was looking for items to carry on our website and his product attracted my attention. At first, it was because of the cute aloha design. Then looking through his website, I sympathized with the concept of the bandage. There are various tropical and well-designed products or arts in Hawaii. The local art scene has been growing recently and we can see so many items with Hawaiian motifs that are designed by locals. This bandage stands out as one of those products not only because of its design but also because of the company’s altruistic beliefs of giving back to the community.

Troubles in Hawaii

With its rich and varied nature and the vacation atmosphere, everyone loves Hawaii. However, it is another truth that Hawaii has a big problem behind the bustling street with lots of tourists. First of all, the cost of living is very high. Hawaii is an island, so most things have to be imported by air or sea from elsewhere. It causes higher price of the products adding the shipping cost. And also Hawaii has limited land, so the rent for the shops or warehouses is very expensive. This also makes prices higher. There is also a 4 % GE Tax, which is a sales tax when you buy something. It is said the average cost of living in Hawaii is 30 % higher than mainland. Because of this (limited land and high cost of living), we are experiencing a homeless problem. You can see them everywhere living in cars, in parks, on the streets, or under the tree. In quite a lot of cases, it is whole families where children make up 23.5 to 42%, and full-time worker are 42% of all of the number! Even though they are working, there are no reasonable priced homes so they don’t have a choice but to live on the streets. When you see these facts, would you feel bad and do nothing or take action? Laurence did the latter.

help. heal. hawai’i

We believe that everyday, you have the chance to make somebody smile =). Aloha Aid is a small company that loves giving back to its community. With each box of bandages that we sell, we donate bandages to local organizations that help to provide medical assistance and empower the less fortunate.

(Aloha Aid HP)

Carry down the message to people through his bandages

♣ What was the whole idea behind of creation of Aloha Aid?

I noticed there were no Hawaiian print healthcare stuff like bandages or others at the start. I had written down and posted on the wall and it just sat in my room for couple of years…At one point I followed my girlfriend to Japan, where she studied abroad program for three months. While she was at school, I had to find something to do. And she said “why just don’t you try to work on that?” That gave me something to do there, so within three months, I came up with the brand name, concept, the design of the box and bandage and packaging. So I started everything during that time. But I didn’t want to make just a Hawaiian print goods. I wanted them to have a little bit more meaning and give the people a message. I figured that there are a lot of homeless out there and bandages cover them; cover to heal the cuts or stuff, so I contacted some non-profit volunteer organizations, which work for the homeless people.

Laurence & Carli

Laurence and his girlfriend, Carli,  who encouraged him making the bandage.

♣ What kind of non-profit organizations do you work with?

We work together with two non-profit organizations, which are Hawaii H.O.M.E. Project and Project Hawaii, Inc.

Hawaii H.O.M.E. Project are a bunch of UH med students and they have a camp to set up the homeless shelter on the island, and then they give them medical service for free. The other one, Project Hawaii, works with homeless kids. They provide them the interactive program for the kids who don’t have families and they don’t have chance to go to the beach or school since they don’t have clothes and school supplies. They help them escape their cycle of poverty by helping them gain self-esteem, build life and social skills and keep them healthy. So as one of the activities, they give the bandage to them.

Aloha Aid バンドエイドパッケージ画像

♣ You only make bandages right now, but have you thought about expanding your product line?

I guess more stuff that people can use that could help their personal life, like toothbrushes or something. It’s good to give back to the community of homeless people. For the immediate future I’m going to try to make bandage with different sizes and shapes like circles or squares, bigger patch it…

♣ So what was the biggest challenge or difficulty?

Nowadays about 80 stores mainly drugstore are selling my bandage on the island, but it took while to get into store because they didn’t know what it was. Once it got in first one, it was way easier. At first, I was going in with some sales pieces like flyers and couple boxes with the bandage but it is always hard to get in touch with the manager or higher ups. So I just started emailing and it gave me more success. So the first one was the hardest and after that, once a month or couple of times a month and then getting a week or couple times a week…

♣ So the challenge was a initial getting into the stores. What have been the biggest rewards or satisfaction brought to you?

Seeing the people wear them like friends of family, it’s good to see they are wearing it. I feel like I made that! I feel happy if I think my bandages cover them, cover to heal the cuts.


Broad scope coming with his diversified background


♣ What’s your background?

I grew up in Washington, but our family moved to Japan. So we lived there for about 10 years. Unfortunately I don’t speak Japanese though…But I can read Hiragana, Katakana. And I sometime read comics. We moved out to Hawaii when I was in the 6th grade. I majored in Graphic Design at KCC (Kapiolani Community College) and eventually transferred to UH and switched my major to psychology.

♣ Oh wow, were you in Japan? But you are staying in Hawaii the longest. How do you like Hawaii?

Of course Hawaii is beautiful, but sometimes I feel like it is becoming less “Hawaii.” The aloha sprit is not as strong as it used to be. When I was younger when you change lanes in traffic, you drop the Shaka. Now I don’t see that so much. Drivers seem more aggressive. And every month there is a new building rising.

♣ Yeah I think so. We hope Hawaii doesn’t change last and always. To conclude, any message you want to give to fan or future fan?

The biggest thing is hopefully that it can help out their lives and I’m always looking forward to getting feedback for better idea!




Interview : Lindsey Haraguchi from Hanalei Taro & Juice Co. 

Interview : Lindsey Haraguchi from Hanalei Taro & Juice Co. 

Hanalei Taro

This time story of MONO is an interview to Lindsey Haraguchi from Hanalei Taro & Juice Co. She delivered a lot of talk about farming and her job. Hanalei Taro & Juice Co. which started in 2000 serve food with the recipe which was passed down from her family on the food truck.
We can tell her pride and love to farming and also Hawaii just hearing her story.

Web : http://www.hanaleitaro.com/

Strong passiong to farming which became a trigger that she started her business

♣ If I listen to your business concept, I can tell your strong passion to the farming which your family have been running for generations. So give me your background, did you grow up in Hawaii? What was the catalyst that you started the food truck business?

Lindsey: I was born and raised on the island of Kauai. We have a sixth generation family farm in Hanalei. I left Kauai for going to College, and met my husband, Brad, at the grad school. After married, we went back to Kauai. I definitely wanted to continue the tradition of farming and then eventually come back. Hanalei Taro & Juice(HTJC) is the value added family recipe portion of the farm. From the six generation family farm, we harvest and my mother passed down recipes to my husband, Brad, who is the chef. He makes the family recipes and we sell it through Hanalei Taro through farmers markets and directly to stores.

ハナレイタロ&ジュース リンゼイさん

♣ What would be popular products?

Linsey: The taro hummus is really popular. It has to be refrigerated and has a long shelf life of a couple of weeks. Our taro veggie burgers are really popular and we sell these at the lunch wagon and farmers markets and people can take them home in a two pack. If somebody takes it home frozen, it can last for over a year in the freezer.
The taro mochi cake is also good. The kulolo is popular with the locals.

♣ What exactly is kulolo?

Lindsey: It’s a traditional Hawaiian dessert. It takes a very long time to make. Very hands on. It’s kind of like a Hawaiia dessert delicacy.


♣ Any personal favorites as far as the products?

Lindsey: I really love the kulolo. When you’re growing up some kids have cookies and milk, we had kulolo and milk.Of course for meals, I do the veggie burgers. I snack on the hummus and chips or with carrots, celery, bell peppers. Use it as a dip. We also use the hummus as a spread for the veggie burgers. It’s gret for vegetarians.

♣ Lindsey : Seriously, looking at you, I think taro products brings out healthy skin and hair. [laughter]

Great-great grandfather who immigrated from Fukuoka, Japan.

♣  So it’s a six generation farm….so it’s your great-great grandfather who immigrated to Hawaii?

Lindsey:Yes, they were originally from Fukuoka. Some of them were originally rice and chicken farmers on my dad’s side of the family. When they moved to Hawaii, they originally worked on the sugar plantations on Kauai. Once their contracts expired they were free to move on elsewhere so some of them started different rice. On our six generation family farm, we actually have the state’s last and only historic rice farms. So we preserved artifacts prior to the 1800s and turned into a museum. We do education programs there for the children of Hawaii and several months ago we actually we had agricultural students from Hokkaido visit. We also do weekly guided tours for the public.

ハナレイタロ&ジュース ツアー画像

♣ Can you tell me the detail about the tour?

Lindsey:It’s about a three and a half hour tour and $87 per adult. It’s very exclusive. Where we take peope in the valley, there’s no public access. We do farm fresh tastings throught the tour.
Start off with a taro smoothie sampler. We use Hawaiian artifacts that have been passed on. We do poi pounding on the tour and additional tastings and they can do coconut husking. We end the tour with a lunch at the lunch wagon. They can book online or go through their concierge at the hotel. And because it’s a non-profit, all proceeds from teh tour goes towards non-profits restoration efforts and educational programs for children in the state of Hawaii.
Sometimes when my kids are on their breaks from school, they come to work with me. When I’m on tour and he’s in the kitchen.

♣ So that’s great since they’re the next generation. Good to get them started early.

Lindsey: Yeah, hopefully. They definitely do love helping mom drive the tractor or helping grandpa.

For the tourists

♣ Any favorite restaurants on the island of Kauai for the tourists?

Lindsey:Probably Hamuras Saimin. Definitely a family favorite. It was my grandfather’s favorite. There’s Postcards Cafe on the North Shore. One of their appetizers is a taro fritter which they get from our farm. There’s also Merrimen’s Restaurant on the Poipu south side. They also do dishes with taro as well. And then The Westin in Princeville. Nanea Restaurant. They do stuff with our poi and kulolo.

♣ Have you ever been to Japan?

Lindsey: Yes! I’ve actually been to Japan several times. The first time, I went, I was in the sixth grade and I stayed with a host family in Fukuoka that I still keep in touch with them. During that time, I could meet my ancestors. We visited Tokyo and Okinawa. Okinawa had a lot of resemblances to Hawaii. And then, also with the Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce. We flew with them for the cherry blossoms. We got to meet the Princess and Emperor of Japan.

♣ That sounds great! What do you remember most about Japan?

Lindsey: I love the food. I love to eat.  Everything there really tastes good.  We ate at a hole-in-the-wall tonkatsu place.  The food was very good.  The people are very polite.  Even the 7-11, the food was good there.  At the train station, we picked up bentos.  The food was very delicious.

♣ Finally, anything you want to say to your fans?

Lindsey:Thank you so much for reading. If you ever come to Kauai, we hope to see you. Please feel free to visit us and visit the website. We welcome you always!!