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Ka‘u Coffee Festival to showcase java, music, food (May 1-2)

Some of the district's finest brews highlight the 2nd annual Ka‘u Coffee Festival in Pahala. (Photo special to Hawaii 24/7)


The Ka’u Coffee Festival has even more to celebrate at its second annual event May 1-2, having captured a win in an international “Coffees of the Year” competition. In celebrating the prized coffees, the festival features a line-up of top Hawaiian musicians, the participation of Chef Alan Wong at the festival’s recipe contest, and much more.

Most events are free, and are held at the Pahala Community Center.

Several Ka’u coffee farms were ranked among the world’s top coffees last week at the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s (SCAA) Roaster’s Guild International Coffees of the Year Competition, in Anaheim, Calif. It’s the fourth consecutive year Ka’u coffee has earned international acclaim at the SCAA annual expo.

Rising Sun Farm operated by Will and Grace Tabios earned 2010 Coffee of the Year as a Best of Origin in the Hawaii-USA category, with an impressive score of 87.563. Six of 10 Hawaiian finalists are Ka’u farms, and will be part of the Ka’u Coffee Festival over May Day Weekend.

Ka’u coffee is making a buzz not just at the SCAA competitions, but among coffee connoisseurs and with top chefs, including Chef Alan Wong, who currently offers coffee from four Ka’u farms at his restaurant, Alan Wong’s Honolulu.

Wong will serve as a judge in the Ka’u Coffee recipe contest Saturday. The deadline for the recipe contest is Thursday, April 29.

“Ka’u is producing some of the best estate coffees in the state right now. Many of them are hidden gems. I would recommend that you go to Pahala, tour the farms, and drink these wonderful coffees,” Wong said.

In January 2009, Ka’u Coffee was served at President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Gala at the Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington, D.C.

On Saturday, May 1, events start at 9 a.m. and last until 5 p.m., including a hoolaulea with food, Hawaiian music, hula, vendors, Ka’u Coffee tastings, demonstrations, the Ka’u Coffee recipe contest, farm tours, and appearances by newly crowned Miss Ka’u Coffee Alesha “Ulu” Makuakane, and Miss Ka’u Coffee Peaberry Queen, Karlee Kaliyah Kealaikamaile Fukunaga-Camba.

Musicians include Grammy winner Keoki Kahumoku, Cyril Pahinui, Demetrius and Leka of the band Ka’u, Bolo, Franz Kahale and many more.

Sign up for the Sunday Ka’u Coffee College with consultants Andrew Hetzel, Miguel Meza and Shawn Steiman, free for Ka’u coffee farmers and $25 for the public.

Meet the farmers (currently, Ka’u has nearly 50 coffee farms growing on approximately 400 acres), tour the farms and learn more about the art and science of coffee growing and processing.

The new Ka’u Coffee Mill on Wood Valley Road will also be open for tours.

Attendees can plan a fun weekend getaway in Ka’u, one of the most historically significant areas in all of Hawaii. A selection of accommodations ranging from luxury inns to affordable B&Bs and cottages, restaurants featuring local products and outdoor adventure await travelers.

Sponsors of the Ka’u Coffee Festival include the Big Island Resource Conservation Development Council; Hawaii County Department of Research & Development, Edmund C. Olson Trust; Hawaii Department of Agriculture; Hawaii Tourism Authority and 30 others.

For tour schedules and more details, contact or visit

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