World Class Coffee is Brewing in Hawaii
This past April a small coffee farm in rural Kau, Hawaii placed seventh at the prestigious international finals of the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s cupping competition. Kailiawa Coffee Farm vying against centuries old coffee growing regions that included Ethiopia, Columbia, and Panama received the top ten honor.
Kau coffee? Is a common reaction from many coffee lovers. While Kona coffee is the most established coffee growing region in Hawaii, the success of Kailiawa Coffee Farm showcases to consumers that Hawaii grown coffee is not just restricted to Kona. Maui, Oahu, Kaui, Molokai and several areas outside of Kona, on the Big Island, are cultivating coffee.
In the 1990s Kau sugarcane production was winding down and federal agriculture grants helped a small number of displaced workers start coffee farms. The transition from large scale agriculture to small owner operated farms is a common thread in the history of coffee in Hawaii. Like Kau, Kona coffee farms average less than five acres in size and approximately 600 farms comprise the Kona region. Many of the owners are fifth generation farmers, whose families started small-scale coffee farms when the world coffee market crashed in 1899 and the large plantations shut down.
But Kona also welcomes first generation farmers like Duane Harens of Harens Old Tree Estate. A former sommelier at the Kahala Hilton and Ritz-Carlton Mauna Lani, Harens brings his appreciation for flavors and wine knowledge to coffee. When starting out, Harens sought a coffee farm with 125 year-old trees, much like a winemaker would seek out old established vineyards.
From Nov. 6 to 15 the 39th annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival takes place on the Big Island.
Festival highlights include farm tours, cooking demonstrations, a Gevalia cupping contest and of course free samplings of Kona coffee.
The festival is a time to enjoy a sip and take in a part of Hawaii’s cultural heritage. Hawaii coffee can range from deep rich notes to lighter fruitier tastes. Hawaii is the only region in the U.S that grows one of our most favorite beverages.
About Melanie H. Kosaka
Melanie Kosaka is the owner and founder of ShareYourTable – a company specializing in culinary television production and interactive media. Her credits include the James Beard award winning series, The Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter, Hawaii Cooks with Roy Yamaguchi, which has been distributed in 66 countries, New American Cuisine featuring star chefs from around the United States, and GetHealthyNowHawaii.com–an online based educational product. FDM has produced over 500 hours of cooking and lifestyle programming for national and international distribution.
Follow Melanie on Twitter at @shareyourtable