Categorized | Agriculture, Featured

Ka‘u Coffee Festival (April 26-May 5)

Ka‘u Coffee Festival 2011 (Photo special to Hawaii 24/7)


Hometown hospitality — complete with a bottomless cup of coffee — is on tap at the fifth Ka’u Coffee Festival April 26-May 5 at several Ka‘u venues.

The Miss Ka‘u Coffee Pageant kicks off the festival April 26, followed by Simply Elegant: the Ka‘u Farmers Table on April 27. The Triple C Recipe Contest — starring Ka‘u coffee in cookies, crackers and candy — offers free coffee and entry tasting on April 28.

Don’t miss the new Ka‘u Mountain Water System Hike on May 1, Coffee & Cattle Day on May 3 and Ka‘u Star Gazing on May 3.

Festival fun culminates May 4 at the Pahala Community Center.

On Saturday, enjoy the Ka‘u Coffee Festival Hoolaulea, with a full day of Hawaiian performing arts, broke da mouth food, local crafts, coffee tastings and farm tours.

Festival entry is free; Ka‘u Coffee Experience with guided tasting is $5; farm tours are $20.

Performers include Bolo, Cyril Pahinui, Keoki & the Ukulele Kids with the Russells, Darren Benitez, Keaiwa with Demetrius Olivera, Loeka and Pomai Longakit and numerous hula halau. Wendy Botelho-Cortez will present a proclamation from Gov. Neil Abercrombie around noon.

On Sunday, May 5, the Ka‘u Coffee College offers seminars by leaders in the specialty coffee industry: Po-Jung “Simon” Hsieh, founder of Soaring Phoenix Trading Company, a green bean coffee importer; and Jim Munson, president of Brooklyn Roasting Company, a wholesale and retail roastery.

The notable coffee experts are participating and will learn first-hand about Ka‘u coffee during Saturday’s festival activities, including guided tastings and farm tours. Then, on Sunday, the men will give guest lectures to local coffee farmers at the Ka‘u Coffee College.

This is the festival’s third reverse trade mission.

Other coffee specialty experts who have traveled to Ka‘u to learn about its special brew include coffee guru George Howell of Terroir Coffee, Skip Fay of Dunn Bros Coffee, James Freeman of Blue Bottle Coffee, Anthony Carroll of Starbucks and Jeff Taylor of PT’s Coffee Roasting Company.

In addition to importing coffee, Hsieh is one of Taiwan’s most accomplished specialty roasters. “Coffee Review” published 18 reviews of his coffees that scored 90 points or higher.

He offers professional training in hand-pour and siphon brewing, as well as roasting, plus serves as a quality control advisor for Taiwanese coffee farmers.

Hsieh is the author of “Coffee Extraction: All About Brewing.”

Munson is president of Brooklyn Roasting Company; the international brand has cafes in the U.S. and Japan. Munson has served on the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Conference Committee and the National Coffee Associations Information and Education Committee, plus is the former chairman of the New York chapter of the American Institute of Wine and Food.

Before launching his coffee career at Dallis Bros. Coffee, Munson worked as a GM/partner at The Brooklyn Brewery.

“We’re pleased and proud that notable industry leaders come to Ka‘u to share in our community,” said Chris Manfredi who serves as lead festival organizer. “This strategic initiative to create collaborative relationships benefits Ka‘u growers and moves us another step forward on the path toward establishing Ka‘u as a premium coffee growing origin.”

Founded in a coffee tradition hailing to the 1800s — plus the hard work of sugar employees who lost their jobs in 1996 — Ka‘u coffee burst onto the specialty coffee scene by winning numerous awards.

These accolades highlight the unique combination of people and place that makes Ka‘u coffee a favorite across the globe. The festival’s mission is to raise awareness of Ka‘u as a world-class, coffee-growing origin.

Serving as an economic stimulus for the rural Ka‘u region, the festival is supported by the county Department of Research & Development, Hawaii Tourism Authority and state Department of Agriculture.

For details on ticketed events and full festival information, call 929-9550 or visit

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