Manawai Coffee – Black Rum Espresso Review
Manawai Coffee's Black Rum Espresso is a single origin coffee grown in Maui, Hawaii, and micro-roasted specifically for espresso.
It's rare that I'll delve into a coffee and identify or agree with the tasting notes on the bag, but in this particular case it was hard for me to disagree with the folks from Manawai. The tasting notes were not only spot on, but quite potent.
Potent in a good way.
The flavors translated beautifully into straight espresso and espresso-based drinks.
So let's take a closer look…
But first…an important disclosure:
I not only received this bag of coffee for free in exchange for a review, but this was also my first “sponsored” coffee review, meaning I was also paid $50.
Now, before you freak out and burn me at the stake, let me explain what a sponsored coffee review means in the context of the Coffee Concierge.
These days, I receive a lot of requests for reviews that I am not able to fulfill because I either don't like the coffee to begin with, or because it takes me too long to publish said review given my small staff and the increasing demand for reviews.
As a result of this, every time a roaster asks to submit their coffee for a review, I respond with a note that says they are welcome to send their coffee, but I cannot guarantee that their coffee will be reviewed nor that it will be published swiftly if it is to be reviewed at all.
As a result of this, I decided to offer sponsored coffee reviews (currently $50 per coffee reviewed) as a way for coffee roasters to 1) have a guaranteed option for a published review and 2) have an expedited and predictable publication date within 2-4 weeks of their coffee submission.
I remind all roasters that a sponsored review does not mean that the coffee will be reviewed favorably. But, if the coffee is reviewed unfavorably, the roaster is given the option to “abort” the impending publication.
Having said that, I do not want to do anything at the expense of my readers' trust. I'd like to continue to make The Coffee Concierge a dependable resource for honest coffee reviews, despite the compensation I may receive.
So please, share your feedback by either leaving a comment below or contacting me privately here.
Now, back to the review…
General Notes & Observations
Producers: Manawai Coffee
Country of Origin: USA (Hawaii)
Variety: Red Bourbon
Processing method: Natural & Dehydration
Growing altitude: 609-762 masl
Roaster aroma notes: None
Coffee Concierge aroma notes: Rum, blueberry
Roaster tasting notes: Dark rum, blueberry preserves, dark chocolate, rhubarb coated in molasses
Coffee Concierge tasting notes:Rum, blueberry, dark chocolate
I brewed the Black Rum espresso almost exclusively as espresso via my MyPressi twist and was never disappointed with the result.
This was surprising, given how much difficulty I had with slowing down the extraction. In other words, no matter how finely I ground this coffee, the water had no trouble passing through the puck in under 30 seconds for 40g of espresso.
Even more surprising though was how the espresso tasted during these super-quick extractions…
I was expecting a sour, thin-bodied mess, but instead was met with a strong rum flavor that instantly validated the name of the coffee. If anything, the shot had more bitterness than sour acidity.
As I continued to move through shots and slow down the extraction a bit, strong blueberry notes with a dark chocolate finish were most frequently present. Frustratingly, I was never able to slow down my shots to a 30+ seconds, even at some of the finest settings on my grinder.
But it ended up not mattering when it came to the flavor of the shots, which were always balanced and relatively sweet.
The only negative about the shots was that the body wasn't as heavy as I had hoped for.
Perhaps the age of the coffee had something to do with this (again, I had no knowledge of how old the coffee was when I received it)?
I found Manawai's Black Rum Espresso to be a very enjoyable espresso experience overall.
The shots were consistent, sweet, and incredibly forgiving despite the fact that I couldn't get slower extractions with more body.
At $99 for 8oz, this is one of the most expensive coffees I've ever tried. In fact, it was so expensive, I almost didn't want to share it with the wife, because I knew she wouldn't appreciate it as much as me.
But alas, I did make her an Americano with the Black Rum Espresso, and that same blueberry flavor prevailed despite the dilution.
So is this coffee right for you?
Yes, if you have a massive coffee budget or just a lot of discretionary income, you would certainly buy this coffee.
But this is going to be the minority of coffee drinkers, so you should probably only consider buying this coffee as a gift for someone who really appreciates coffee.
And it would have to be for a very special occasion I'd say, given the high price tag.
Fortunately, you can pick up a 4oz bag for $49 on their website here. This way, you can try the coffee without having to drop a whole Benjamin.
You can also try their Black Rum Espresso blend at a more affordable $27, though, this would still be considered a premium price for any bag of coffee.
If you do happen to try it out, let me know what you thought by leaving a comment below.