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From Our Editors
Meandering through rows of coffee trees in a Waialua coffee orchard, roastmaster John Alvarez gauges by sight alone the maturity of the trees and the ripeness of the berries peeking out from verdant leaves. Though the coffee aficionado follows his beans’ route from germination into each piping mug, his true passion lies in roasting. Back at his roasting site in the shadow of Mount Ka'ala, handfuls of beans cascade through his fingers, pouring back into the drum roaster’s cooling bin as he inspects their chafes and hues to ensure an even roast. Though he concedes each island’s orchards produce different flavors, it’s the slow-roasting process—featured on Hawaiian Grown—that accounts for his coffee’s smooth, sweet taste. “It’s like being a chef at a restaurant,” he says of his duties. “A lot of people take it for granted, but it’s what makes all the difference.” Just outside, amid the Ilikai Hotel's fountains and gardens where his coffee shop is located, people sit on the patio, take in the sun, chat, and sip on the signature coffee.