Categorized | Business, Featured

Rising Sun of Ka’u earns ‘Coffee of the Year’ honors

Will Tabios of The Rising Sun; Lorie Obra of Rusty’s Hawaiian; Chris Manfredi, Ka’u Farm and Ranch, Ka’u Farm Bureau, Hawaii Coffee Association; Miguel Meza- coffee consultant; Efren Abellera- Kehua’s Coffee Farm. (Photo special to Hawaii 24/7)


The Rising Sun Farm of Ka’u again reached the pinnacle of the specialty coffee world by earning the 2010 Coffee of the Year award in the Hawaii-USA category at the prestigious Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Roasters Guild international cupping competition at the SCAA’s 22nd annual expo in Anaheim, Calif.

This marks the fourth consecutive year Ka’u coffees have earned international acclaim in the prestigious competition and the second time Rising Sun has earned a top spot.

Competing against 134 exceptional coffees assembled from such legendary coffee origins as Columbia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Nicaragua, Panama and Peru, the Rising Sun earned an impressive 87.563 score.

After an initial vetting round, the 134 entries were winnowed down to 74 coffees scoring 84 or better. Ten of the 74 finalists were chosen from Hawaii and were among 18 entries collected from across the state. Six of the 10 Hawaiian finalists are from Ka’u farms.

The seven-acre farm, operated by Will & Grace Tabios of Naalehu is located at 1900-foot elevation on lands mauka (upland) of the town of Pahala where the family cultivates Guatemalan Typica and Bourbon varietals. Will & Grace’s winning coffee was produced by the labor-intensive “pulped natural” method which produces pleasantly sweet, bright, citrus and floral flavors.

The steady evolution of Ka’u’s coffee quality has been influenced in part by consultant Miguel Meza.

Among other fine Ka’u coffees whose final scores were 84 or better are Castaneda Coffee Farm (85.35), R&G Farms (84.9), and Rusty’s Hawaiian (84.75). Other Ka’u farmers who entered the competition and are on hand to promote Ka’u coffees are Efren Abellera of Kehua’s Coffee Farm, and “Bull” Kailiawa. Kailiawa Coffee Farm scored an impressive 7th in the 2009 Coffee of the Year competition.

These entries into the SCAA competition are sponsored by Ka’u Farm and Ranch Company, LLC, the management entity of the lands on which the award-winning Ka’u coffee farms are located.

Award-winning Ka’u estate coffees will be available for tasting and purchase at the second annual Ka’u Coffee Festival May 1-2 in the plantation heritage town of Pahala. Events will include Ka’u Coffee hoolaulea (admission is free) with coffee tasting, entertainment, food, education, arts and crafts, Ka’u Coffee recipe contest, farm tours, and Ka’u Coffee College, a series of educational workshops focused on coffee farming, roasting, cupping and processing.

For event information and schedule, call 929-9550 or e-mail or visit

Rising Sun coffee is available at Alan Wong’s famous King Street restaurant in Honolulu, Will and Grace’s own variety store in Naalehu or by calling 557-4441.

Coffee cupping is a combination of art and science where coffees are evaluated and scored based on subtle characteristics including, flavor, aroma, “mouth-feel,” acidity, sweetness and aftertaste. Participating coffees are cupped blind by a panel of highly qualified experts.

The SCAA is the world’s largest coffee trade association dedicated to supporting a vibrant specialty coffee community. It recognizes, develops and promotes specialty coffee by setting and maintaining quality standards for the industry; conducting research on coffee, equipment and perfection of craft; and providing education, training, resources and business services for members.

Celebrating 28 years of success, the strength of the organization is reflective of members who represent more than forty countries and every segment of the specialty coffee industry, from coffee growers to coffee roasters and retailers. Visit

A barista uses Ka‘u's award-winning coffee to brew up some perfection. (Special to Hawaii 24/7)

Rocky Rhodes, the Coffee of the Year chairman, and Will Tabios throw some shakas on the festivities. (Special to Hawaii 24/7)

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