The Great Coffee Challenge

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Story by Becky Speere

Do you remember your first cup of joe? I was a teenager when I drank my first cup of coffee (percolated, not dripped). It tasted so delicious laced with canned evaporated milk and a heaping spoonful of sugar. I’ve been addicted to coffee ever since! In those days, Hawai‘i Island’s Kona Coffee brand was in its infancy, and unlike coffee grown elsewhere, it had a flavor profile all its own, garnering praise from lovers of the smooth, caffeinated eye-opener.

Enter Maui-grown coffee. In July 2017, Maui won the Hawaii Coffee Association’s statewide coffee-cupping competition with a submission from Olinda Organic Farms. Today, the island’s number of coffee farms continues to multiply, as the Maui Coffee Association continues to set standards of excellence for growing, harvesting and processing.

We asked a few of our favorite chefs for recipes using Maui coffee. Talk about creative!

Black Sesame Doughnuts

Papa‘aina, Pioneer Inn
Black Sesame Doughnut with Coffee Creme Anglaise

A former Top Chef producer and returning competitor, Lee Anne Wong is Papa‘aina’s chef/proprietor. Here’s a recipe from her first successful Hawai‘i restaurant: O‘ahu’s Koko Head Cafe.

Black Sesame Doughnuts

YIELD: 3 dozen | PREP TIME: 45 minutes, plus 2 hours to chill dough

Coffee Creme Anglaise recipe follows.

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 c. cake flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. black sesame seeds, toasted and ground

In a stand mixer on medium speed, beat eggs and sugar with paddle to ribbon stage (till it turns pale and reaches a thick consistency). Add the sour cream and vanilla  extract, and mix until incorporated, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Slowly pour in the melted butter. Turn speed to low and add the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated, being careful not to overwork the dough. Scrape down the bowl to make sure everything is mixed. Line a half-sheet tray with parchment paper, spread donut dough, and top with another piece of parchment. Chill in the refrigerator until the dough is firm. Preheat fry oil to 350 degrees F. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Fry a few at a time until golden and cooked in the middle. Coat lightly, dusting with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar. Serve while hot with the coffee creme anglaise.

Coffee Creme Anglaise

YIELD: 6 cups | PREP TIME: 30 minutes

  • 2 1/4 c. milk
  • 2 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1/4 c. finely ground Maui coffee
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 1 c. granulated sugar

In a heavy-bottom saucepan, simmer the milk, cream, coffee grinds, and vanilla extract for approximately 10 minutes to infuse the coffee; do not let boil. Whisk the eggs and sugar in a clean bowl until the mixture is pale yellow and a ribbon forms. Add a cup of the hot cream mixture into the beaten egg yolks and sugar, whisking to incorporate, tempering the egg yolks.

Add the egg mixture back to the pot with the remaining cream and cook on medium heat, stirring continuously until the creme anglaise is thickened and coats the back of the spoon. Transfer the sauce to a metal bowl and place in an ice bath to cool immediately. Cover and refrigerate.

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