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Ka‘u Coffee featured at Obama gala in D.C.



Although Ka‘u is a long way from Washington, D.C., it is well represented in festivities celebrating the historic inauguration of the 44th President of the United States.

Ka‘u coffee farmers have hand-picked and prepared a commemorative roast of their award-winning coffee for the Hawaii for Obama Inaugural Gala, to be held Sunday, Jan. 18 at The Hay-Adams, the historic hotel where Barack Obama and his family have been staying leading up to their move into The White House.

Leo Norberte, president of the Ka‘u Coffee Farmers Cooperative, said the farmers are happy to present the coffee as a thank you to the honorary chairs of the ball. The chairs include Hawaii Sen. Daniel K. Inouye and Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, as well as Rep. Neil Abercrombie and Rep. Mazie K. Hirono, whose funding in education and infrastructure has helped the Ka‘u Coffee farmers in their transition from displaced sugar workers to independent coffee farmers.

Most of the farmers lost their jobs when the sugar industry shut down in 1996 and have been working to create sustainable, independent farms. They have learned to cultivate coffee in the rich volcanic soils of their small family farms located on former sugar lands.

They hand-pick, process in small batches and sun-dry the coffee on the slopes of Mauna Loa volcano in the southernmost district of the United States. The Ka‘u coffee growing region is located near the villages of Pahala and Naalehu and is surrounded by Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Ka‘u’s legendary pristine coastline.

Hawaii is the only state that produces coffee, and “our Ka‘u is a truly American fine coffee that measures up to the best in the world,” Norberte said.

The Ka‘u coffee destined to serve the 200 attendees at the inaugural gala is being air-shipped to Washington, D.C. courtesy of Eric Tanouye of Greenpoint Nurseries of Hilo, who is providing tropical flowers.

The gift of the Ka‘u coffee is supported by the Ka‘u Coffee Farmers Cooperative, Ka‘u Coffee Festival Committee, Ka‘u Farm & Ranch Co., LLC, Ka‘u Farm Bureau, Pahala Plantation Cottages and the Edmund C. Olson Trust II. See more on Ka‘u Coffee and the upcoming Ka‘u Coffee Festival at

Contact Michelle Galimba at 808-430-4927.

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