Thursday, May 8, 2014

2014 Ka'u Mountain Water Systems Hike Review

Photos by Jesse Tunison
The Ka‘u Mountain Water Systems Hike drew explorers to learn about the rainforest, the history of agriculture and the future of conserving natural resources and developing alternative energy.

During the Ka‘u Coffee Festival hike along the old sugar plantation water system that has been restored by Olson Trust above Ka‘u Coffee Mill, Wood Valley resident Jeff Silva talked about the pristine waters of Ka‘u and noted that the potable water system in Wood Valley is the only health department approved non-chlorinated public drinking water system in the state. He noted that the water is clean because the forest is preserved.
Johnny Navarro, of Pahala, showed the hikers the infrastructure in the forest where he grew up hunting along the old plantation flumes, a system that he helped repair in recent years.

Shalan Crysdale, of The Nature Conservancy, stood by Clark Tunnel and talked about the importance of keeping out invasive species to help the forest capture water as a fog drip. He explained that the native koa and ‘ohi‘a trees are excellent at converting fog into drops of water that accumulate on the leaves and fall as rain. Without the tall canopy of the native trees, the forest would be much drier, soil erosion and storm runoff would travel down-slope and impact land all the way to the coast and into the near-shore waters.

Olson Trust land manager John Cross talked about the plantation workers building the horizontal ash bed tunnels. He explained how rain falls through lava flows and into the ash beds and said the tunnels release the captive water form Mauna Loa. He also explained the Olson Trust plan to build a hydroelectric plant to help run Ka‘u Coffee Mill, other agricultural production and electrify homes. He noted after the hike that native birds sang all day long. “The apapane, oma'o, amaki'i were all around us.”

Among those on the hike were Rep. Richard Creagan, Stephanie Donohue, of county Department of Research & Development and Debbie Ward, of the Sierra Club.

According to Cross, the water system hike is available only on a limited, by-appointment basis. Call Ka'u Coffee Mill at 928-0550.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Official Ka'u Coffee Festival Events for 2014




Ka‘u, Hawai‘i Island—The Ka‘u Coffee Festival offers new fun activities to its lineup of May 2-11. Now in its sixth year, the festival showcases its award-winning coffees and everything that makes the sprawling Ka‘u District so special—the rural area covers 922 square miles and encompasses the entire southern end of the Big Island.

Kicking off the festival is the inaugural Pa‘ina & Open House at historic Pahala Plantation House with the Ka‘u Chamber of Commerce and Ka‘u Calendar newspaper. Pa‘ina means party in Hawaiian and fun includes guided house tours, music, hula by Halau Hula O Leionalani and refreshments—including Ka‘u coffee. Bolo will also release his new CD that contains the song “Kaiholena,” that tells about the people and places of Ka‘u.

During the heyday of Big Isle sugar production, Pahala Plantation House served as the manager’s home of the former Ka‘u Sugar Plantation. Now a vacation home and community gathering place, the House has been painstakingly restored to maintain the integrity and history of Hawai‘i’s sugar era. Enjoy guided tours of the spacious interior that boasts high ceilings, a large dining hall, antiques, artwork and a baby grand piano in the foyer. Time is 5:30-9 p.m. Friday, May 2 at the corner of Maile and Pikake Streets in Pahala. Admission is free and donations are appreciated for the Miss Ka‘u Coffee Scholarship Fund, 808-928- 9811.

The annual Miss Ka‘u Coffee Pageant is part of a festival doubleheader with the Triple C Recipe Contest on Sunday, May 2 at the Ka‘u Coffee Mill. Starting at noon, the Triple C Recipe Contest offers a new cake competition category, along with cookies and candy—all must contain Ka‘u coffee. Contestants vie for free in either adult amateur or student (middle or high school) divisions to win cash prizes. Contest entry deadline is April 25. Public admission is free with complimentary coffee and recipe sampling. Find contest details at

On Sunday evening, the 2014-15 Miss Ka‘u Coffee and junior Miss Ka‘u Peaberry Pageant is open to contestants who were either born, grew up or now live in Ka‘u. Girls are judged for talent, public speaking, gown and Miss Popularity. Winners are awarded scholarships. A mahalo party for the reigning queens is 6 p.m., followed by the pageant at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $10 with additional donations appreciated.

The annual Coffee & Cattle Day 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday, May 9 showcases Ka‘u agriculture at the 150- acre Aikane Plantation with a tour of a working ranch/farm, followed by a luncheon buffet. Co-owner Merle Becker says her great-grandfather, “Papa” J. C. Searle, planted coffee there in 1894 and keiki from Searle’s trees are grown today by numerous Ka‘u farmers. The Beckers oversee eight acres of coffee, a Black Angus cattle operation, plus plantings of exotic protea, sugar cane, macadamia nuts, citrus, avocado, taro, pineapple and papaya. The buffet will offer grass-fed beef, pork and chicken; a variety of side dishes and desserts made with Ka‘u coffee. Price is $25 per person, make reservations at 808-927-2252.

The all-day Ka‘u Coffee Festival Ho‘olaule‘a on Saturday, May 10 is free and features day-long entertainment. It hosts a variety of art, craft, information and food booths; and some of the finest coffees grown anywhere.

The Ka‘u Coffee Experience has a new twist with free coffee tastings guided by professional baristas at the Pahala Community Center. Coffee enthusiasts can sample Ka‘u coffees prepared in a variety of ways— like a pour-over or a French press, cold brew and espresso drinks.

The festival is supported by the County of Hawai‘i Department of Research & Development, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture. A full schedule of events and Ka‘u activity recommendations follows. Visit to learn more.

Friday May 2: 5:30-9 p.m. Pa‘ina & Open House at historic Pahala Plantation House with Ka‘u Chamber of Commerce and Ka‘u Calendar. Music, hula, food and house tours. Donations accepted for Miss Ka‘u Coffee Scholarship Fund. Corner of Maile and Pikake in Pahala. 808-928-9811.

Saturday May 3: Tasting Success: 3rd Annual Ka‘u Farmers’ Table at Kalaekilohana Inn and Retreat, 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m., features locally sourced fine dining, premium live entertainment, and has been sold out three years running. Advance only tickets are $75 at

 Sunday May 4: Triple C Recipe offers competition in cookies, candies and cakes at noon, all made with provided Ka‘u coffee. Attendance and coffee tasting are free; find contest entry info at

Sunday, May 4: Doors open 6 p.m. for the annual Miss Ka‘u Coffee Pageant at Ka‘u Coffee Mill. For more information visit

During the week visit Ka‘u coffee farms. Enjoy the scenic and historic beauty of Ka‘u, Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach, Honu‘apo fishponds, the cliffs of Ka Lae - the southernmost place in the U.S., and the nearby Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Stay in one of the many accommodations in Ka‘u. Visit for participating coffee farms and accommodations.

Wednesday, May 7: Explore flume systems of the sugarcane era and development of hydroelectric power on a Ka‘u Mountain Water System Hike in the Wood Valley rainforest 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. $40 includes lunch. Limited to 30. Visit or phone 808-928-0550.

Friday, May 9: Enjoy Coffee & Cattle Day at Aikane Plantation Coffee farm at 10 a.m., where descendants of the first coffee farmer in Ka‘u explain how coffee is integrated into other agriculture. $25 fee includes an all-you can eat buffet. Visit or phone 808-927-2252.

Friday, May 9: Observe the heavens from the summit of Makanau at Ka‘u Star Gazing, 5:30 p.m. - 10 p.m. $35 with refreshments. To sign up, see or call 808-928-0550.

Saturday, May 10: Tantalize your taste buds at the Ka‘u Coffee Festival Ho‘olaule‘a, with a full day of music, hula, food, local crafts, free guided coffee tastings and farm/mill tours at the Pahala Community Center. Festival entry is free; farm tours with van transport are $20. Call 808-929-9550 or visit

Sunday, May 11: Learn about the coffee industry at the Ka‘u Coffee College at Pahala Community Center. Free, donations appreciated. Call 808-929-9550 or visit

Ka‘u Coffee Festival: Founded in coffee traditions hailing to the 1800's—plus the hard work of former sugar plantation workers—Ka‘u coffee burst onto the specialty coffee scene by winning numerous coffee quality 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.

Ka‘u Coffee Festival vendor and sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information and festival updates, visit, follow Ka‘u Coffee Festival on Facebook, and @kaucoffeefest on Twitter and Instagram, or call Festival Organizer Chris Manfredi 808-929-9550.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

New Event for 2014: Pa'ina and Open House at Historic Pahala Plantation House

To kick off the ten days of activities for the 2014 Ka'u Coffee Festival Pahala Plantation Cottages, Ka'u Chamber of Commerce and The Ka'u Calendar newspaper are offering a Pa'ina & Open House at historic Pahala Plantation House (corner of Maile & Pikake Streets in Pahala, Hawaii) on Friday, May 2, from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Music, hula with Halau Hula O Leionalani, refreshments and house tours. Donations will be accepted for the Miss Ka'u Coffee Scholarship Fund.

Pahala Plantation House

The Pahala Plantation House was once the Ka'u Sugar Plantation manager's house. Working to maintain the integrity and history of this five bedroom home, owners Julia Neal and Michael Worthington kept the original wood floors and filled the house with antique furniture and artwork. The building boasts high ceilings, a large dinning hall, spacious rooms, a wrap around lanai and a baby grand piano in the foyer. More details regarding The Plantation House and other plantation cottage vacation rentals from the Pahala Plantation Cottages can be found at

Ka'u Chamber of Commerce

The Ka'u Chamber of Commerce aims to support local businesses within the district of Ka'u. Each year, KCC hosts an art show. The winning entry is then used the following year as the cover image for the Annual Ka'u Chamber of Commerce Business Directory. To support local students and adults seeking to re-enter the educational system, KCC offers the Ken Wick's Scholarship. An essay competition where applicants are asked to write about how their educational experience will benefit Ka'u - with preference given to those who intend to remain in Ka'u after completing their education.

Halau Hula O Leionalani

Members of Halau Hula O Leionalani, directed by Kumu Hula Debbie Leionalani Ryder, have performed at the Ka'u Coffee Festival since it's beginning, with hula dancers coming from as far as Japan and as near as Pahala.

The group is featured in a film about a cultural festival on Lana'i, which will air starting March 18, 2014, on Channel 54. The film Lana'i will likely also be seen on Kaua'i, Lana'i and Maui, said the film’s producer and editor Wendell Kaehuaea. Since the festival, Kumu Hula Debbie Ryder and her husband Kawehi have moved to Pahala, where their family has purchased a home.

Air dates and times: Tuesday, March 18, 3 p.m.; Friday, March 21, 1 p.m.; Saturday, March 22, 8 p.m.; Monday, March 24, 9 p.m.; Friday, March 28, 10 p.m.; and Saturday, March 29, 10:30 p.m.
The halau meets on Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m. at the Old Pahala Clubhouse on Maile Street.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Miss Ka‘u Coffee Contenders Announced

Miss Ka'u Coffee and Peaberry contenders learn about coffee on Lorie Obra's farm in Moa'ula. Photos by Nalani Parlin
Miss Kaʻu Coffee and Miss Kaʻu Peaberry Pageant candidates and details have been announced. The Pageant takes place Sunday, May 4 at 6:30 p.m. at Kaʻu Coffee Mill. A mahalo reception will be held at 6 p.m. for the service of reigning Miss Kaʻu Coffee Tiare-Lee Shibuya and Miss Kaʻu Peaberry Rebecca Kailiawa. The two queens will accept flowers, gifts and thanks before the show begins. Pageant candidates are selling pageant tickets for $10.

Four candidates will compete for the title of Miss Kaʻu Coffee:

Shyann “Makamae” Flores-Carvalho, age 16, is daughter of Helena Carvalho and Glen Hashimoto, and sister to Buddy Flores and Andre Carvalho. She lives in Pahala and is a junior at Kaʻu High School. “I like playing basketball, riding horses and spending time with my family and friends,” said Flores-Carvalho. After she graduates from high school, she plans to study nursing. Her talent is Tahitian dance.  

Gloria Ornelas, age 16, is daughter of Osamea Ornelas and granddaughter of Memmy and Mario Ornelas. She has one brother, Carlos. She lives in Waiʻohinu and is a sophomore at Kaʻu High. “I play volleyball for Kaʻu High. I love coaching T-ball, and I love to spend time with family," she said. Ornelas aspires to be a nurse or lawyer. Her talent is hula.

Rachel Ornelas, age 20, is daughter of Osamea Ornelas and granddaughter to Memmy and Mario Ornelas and hails from Greensands in Waiʻohinu. She works as a teacher with Tutu & Me Traveling Preschool in Kaʻu and attends University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo in hopes of eventually becoming a registered nurse. “I want to represent my community and make a difference” by entering the pageant, she said. 

Amery Silva, age 21, is daughter of Michael Silva and Wendylee Napoleon. She lives in Pahala, is a member of Huala Halau ‘O Leionalani and works as retail associate at Kaʻu Coffee Mill. “I want to attend college to study business management,” Silva said. Her siblings are Kavelle, Kevey, Savannah, Cameron, Chisum, Shanialee and Wrangler. She said she is enjoying running in the pageant with her little sister Shania, who is a Miss Peaberry candidate. Her talent is hula and singing.

Five candidates will participate in the Miss Peaberry Pageant:  
Cristina-Nicole Kawewehi, age 9, is daughter of Angelica Kawewehi and Bill Lorenzo, of Pahala. She is in third grade at Pahala Elementary School. “When I grow up I want to be a teacher,” said Kawewehi. She enjoys dancing, singing and swimming. Her siblings are Keana and Zachary Kuluwaimaka. She plans to do a Zumba dance for her talent.
Calaysa Koi, age 9, is daughter of Cory and Connie Koi, of Pahala. She is sister to Callen and Casey Koi. Her pet family includes a dog, cat, bird and guinea pig. She is a fourth-grader at Pahala Elementary. She enjoys playing and videos. “When I grow up I want to be a star in Hollywood,” said Koi. Her talent is singing.

Madison Mikaelya Iwalani Okimoto, age 8, is daughter of Malcolm and Sheilah, of Waiʻohinu. She has three sisters, Sydnie, Siena and Melia, a former Miss Kaʻu Peaberry first princess, and three dogs. She is a third-grader at Naʻalehu Elementary School. “I aspire to become a doctor or geologist,” said Okimoto. She enjoys baking with her Easy-Bake Oven, swimming, playing baseball, playing with her dog, riding her ripstick and barbecuing with her family. Her talent will be hip-hop dancing.

Chazlynn Marie Kapualokelaniokuʻuleinani Pua-Queja, age 7, is daughter of Jerilynn Pua and Chad Queja, of Pahala. She is in second grade at Pahala Elementary School. She has one brother, Preston, and two sisters, Zeishalynn and Jaymelynn. She is still considering the many possibilities of what she could be when she grows up. Her talent is hula.

Shania Lee Napuamaeloʻiʻokewe Silva, age 8, is daughter of Wendylee Napoleon and Michael Silva, of Pahala. She is in the third grade at Pahala Elementary. She has seven brothers and sisters. “I want to apply for scholarships for becoming an E.R. doctor,” she said. She enjoys playing T-ball and Coach Pitch baseball. Her talent is hip-hop dancing.

The candidates recently started practice, which aims to instill confidence while learning poise and presentation skills with future application to work and school settings. The program also seeks to align itself with Hawaiʻi Department of Education Common Core speaking and listening standards and help students to become resourceful and self-directed learners.

The candidates also visited Lorie Obra’s coffee farm to experience picking coffee and learn more about the life cycle of the coffee tree, the life of a coffee farmer and the history of Kaʻu Coffee.

Each contestant is also competing for Miss Popularity. To support candidates, Kaʻu residents can buy donation tickets for one dollar and become a friend of the pageant. Donations go to support of candidates and toward scholarships and sustaining future pageants.

Anyone wanting to support the candidates can contact them directly to provide sponsorship or donations. Anyone wanting to donate flowers for decorations, other supplies, time or help is asked to contact Pageant Director Nalani Parlin at 217-6893 or Pageant Chair Gloria Camba at 928-8558. Anyone wanting to donate scholarship money can contact Scholarship Chair Julia Neal at 928-9811. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Sunset Magazine Features Ka'u Coffee

Sunset Magazine features Ka'u Coffee in its January 2014 edition. The publication boasts more than a million subscribers. The story by travel writer Christopher Hall features small-business owners like Will and Grace Tabios, who operate a Na'alehu store and a farm with internationally award-winning Ka'u Coffee. The writer illustrates the Ka'u pace of life starting with the Tabios family:

Sunset Magazine points to for info
about our annual events coming up, May 2-11.
Photo by Julia Neal
“Owner Willie Tabios was up at dawn working his family’s seven-acre farm before opening the tiny shop for the day with his wife Grace. But now he sits on an overturned bucket, chatting, or ‘talking story,’ as the say on the islands.”

The author drinks Ka'u Coffee at Hana Hou Restaurant and travels to Cloud Rest to visit the farm of Trini and Francis Marques, where they grow their own award-winning Ali'i Hawaiian Hula Hands Coffee. The author writes about being at Cloud Rest. “I tell Trini that this place feels removed somehow from the real world.” He also quotes Trini Marques saying, “I believe it is sacred here,” and that she recounted “with every tree she plants, she utters a silent prayer.” The author describes the many details on the farm taken care of by Francis Marques and writes, “The work is exacting, expensive and, Trini believes, crucial to producing quality coffee.”

The illustrations are by travel photographer Susan Suebert. Images include the iconic location photographed by almost everyone who goes to Cloud Rest – looking down on numerous Ka'u Coffee farms and Lorie Obra’s tiny coffee shack and out to the Pacific Ocean. Photos also include picking and processing, the drying floor at Ka'u Coffee Mill, the Flyin’ Hawaiian Coffee Truck, the inside of Will & Grace shop, the outside of Hana Hou and a table within.

The Sunset story says Ka'u Coffee is exacting and expensive.
Photo by Andrew Hara
The story takes readers to the farm of Lorie Obra and her award-winning Rusty’s 100% Hawaiian Ka'u Coffee. It tells the story of coffee creating an economy after sugar shut down in 1996 and describes some of the risks such as fires that damaged orchards and the coffee berry borer threatening the crop. “And in a turn of events that resurrects the feelings of helplessness that arose when Big Sugar left, ownership of the leased coffee land has fallen to a big New York bank that’s looking to sell. For now the trees are flourishing and there is reasonable hope that the coffee borer can be managed and the coffee leases will be renewed. Either way, the people of Ka'u will take it as it comes,” the Sunset writer concludes.

The story ends with a quote from Lorie Obra: “Learning how to grow coffee has been important for Ka'u ... but maybe more important has been learning how resilient we are. We are gutsy, and we aren’t going away.”

In a separate section called Where to Fill Your Mug, Sunset suggests locations to visit. Under the category Taste, the writer recommends having a cup at Hana Hou with a slice of cream pie and enjoying Ka'u Coffee with Hawaiian sweet bread at Punalu'u Bake Shop. Under Shop, it recommends Ka'u Farmers Market, where Rusty’s can be purchased for $35 a pound. It also recommends Hawaiian Hula Hands at $41 a pound and The Rising Sun at $28 a pound. Under Tour, the article recommends Aikane Plantation Coffee Co., with a walk through the orchard and visit to the 1930s plantation house. It also recommends Ka'u Coffee Mill for touring the growing, processing and roasting operations and tasting at the visitor center.

The article also suggests Ka'u Coffee Festival: “The district goes full-tilt coffee crazy with the annual Ka'u Coffee Festival, ten days of tastings, tours and events, including the Miss Ka'u Coffee Pageant,” the story says. It points readers to for information about the May 2 - 11 event.
For more, see

Miss Ka'u Coffee Tiare-Lee Shibuya Appearances in 2013

Tiare-Lee Shibuya on the even of her coronation as Miss Ka'u Coffee with her predecessor, and sister, Brandy Shibuya at right, who served as Queen from 2011 to 2013. Photo by Geneveve Fyvie
Miss Ka'u Coffee Tiare-Lee Shibuya
served as a judge for the 2013
Triple C Recipe Contest.
Photo by Julia Neal
Miss Ka'u Coffee Tiare-Lee Shibuya
 performed hula at the 2013
 Triple C Recipe Contest.
Photo by Julia Neal
Tiare-Lee Shibuya, daughter of police office Dane and Terry-Lee Shibuya, of Wai'ohinu, was named Queen for 2013-2014 at the Miss Ka'u Coffee Pageant held on April 26, 2013. Her talent is hula. Tiare-Lee is a graduate of Kameahameha Schools, attends Hawai'i Community College and plans to be a nurse. She won a $1,000 scholarship presented by the Edmund C. Olson Trust II.

Miss Ka'u Coffee Tiare-Lee Shibuya
rode through Na'alehu during the
Fourth of July Parade in the back of
Dexter Lee's classic 50's corvette.
Photo by Julia Neal
Miss Ka'u Coffee Tiare-Lee Shibuya
waved to the public from the back of
Aikane Plantation Coffee's Corvette
at Volcano's Fourth of July Parade.
Photo by David Boyle
During the eight days following her coronation, Tiare-Lee attended, assisted and performed at various Ka'u Coffee Festival events.

Miss Ka'u Coffee Tiare-Lee Shibuya
and Volcano Rain Forest Runs organizer
Sharron Faff. Photo by Julia Neal
Miss Ka'u Coffee Tiare-Lee Shibuya
attended the 2013 Ka'u Chamber of
Commerce Scholarship award ceremony
and encouraged the recipients to keep
striving toward their educational goals.
Photo by Julia Neal
Throughout the year of her reign, Tiare-Lee has attended several island events and schools, representing the well-renowned coffee growing region of Ka'u, Hawai'i. Her schedule has included teaching ti leaf lei making to elementary school students, hula class and participating in a May Day event, helping with a health fair at Kamehameha School, Heart Walk, participating in both the Na'alehu and Volcano Independence Day parades, giving out educational scholarships on behalf of the Ka'u Chamber of Commerce, starting the Volcano Rain Forest Runs, performing a solo at the Evangelical Community Church's first annual Ho'olaule'a, and participating in the Pahala Christmas Parade. She has also volunteered at the Tropic Care free health clinics and with cleaning up Highway 11 and Punalu'u Pond with the O Ka'u Kakou community organization.

Miss Ka'u Coffee Tiare-Lee Shibuya gave the starting yell for two of the three races at the 2013 Volcano Rain Forest
 Runs. Photo by Julia Neal
Miss Ka'u Coffee Tiare-Lee Shibuya braved the possibility
of rain in a convertible at the Pahala Christmas Parade.
Photo by Julia Neal
Tiare-Lee will perform at the upcoming Miss Ka'u Coffee Pageant set for the evening of May 4, 2014, at Ka'u Coffee Mill where she will pass the crown onto a new Queen.

For more about the upcoming pageant, to apply or to volunteer, visit