Monday, May 4, 2015

Keeping Quality High

Dr. Andrew Hetzel explained the importance of reducing the defects of coffee going to market, from husks in green beans to chipped, dried out and unripened beans. He said coffee enthusiasts are becoming more sophisticated in their ability to taste specialty coffee. Photos by Julia Neal
Statewide Hawai'i Farm Bureau President and Ka'u Coffee Festival organizer Chris Manfredi along with coffee experts speaking at the 2015 Ka'u Coffee College, Sunday (May 3) morning, urged coffee farmers to keep the quality of Ka'u coffee high.

Dr. Andrew Hetzel talked about many defects that can degrade coffee beans. He talked about sour beans, withered beans, immature, broken and chipped beans all being detriments to holding onto a reputation for specialty coffee. Defects can come from farming, harvesting, processing, transportation and storage methods. All of these have to be handled with the utmost care to keep coffee reputation and prices high, he said. He encouraged farmers to frequently cup their own coffee and those of other farmers and coffees from around the world and to learn to detect defects and how to prevent them.

Andrea Kawabata encouraged farmers to methodically
manage CBB to save Ka'u's excellent reputation.
Andrea Kawabata, from University of Hawai'i, also encouraged high quality. “Once you have tarnished your reputation, it is hard to get it back,” she said. She urged farmers to look toward long-term rather than short-term profit. She said that coffee berry borer treatments have to be planned carefully. “If CBB subsidies (funding) [don’t] come in, spray anyway,” she urged. Farmers were told to save the receipts for possible reimbursement.

Andy Newbom, a coffee buyer from San Diego, talked about tough competition in pricing, with excellent coffee coming from countries where there is cheaper land and less expensive labor than in Hawai'i. He said this makes it all the more important for Ka'u to preserve the highest of standards and to share the farmers’ stories that connect with coffee drinkers and also to distinguish Ka'u from Kona coffee. He shared his saying, “Never give customers what they want. Only give them what you do best.” He said it is not reasonable to think that a coffee business can be sustained by riding on the fame of Hawai'i as a visitor destination. “You have had it easy,” he said.

Chris Manfredi (left) urged farmers to keep up quality. Andy
 Newbom (right) spoke of tough competition in coffee pricing. 
David Waldman of Rojo’s Roastery in Princeton and Lambertville, N.J. talked about increased sophistication of coffee buyers in the high end market. “There is no fooling people anymore about quality of coffee. They will pay high prices for high quality.” He said that ten years ago people didn’t want the citrus flavors of lighter roasts, but now they want to experience these specific qualities. He said that people are using less milk with coffee, showing they want to taste it. He said customers will pay $5 for a pour-over, but the coffee has to be excellent. He urged farmers to allow buyers to visit with them, see the farms, the soil, the trees and to sit with them to cup coffee and be open to suggestions. 

Chris encouraged farmers to keep up with treatments for Coffee Berry Boerer. “Don’t wait. The bugs don’t know that the grant is coming.” He suggested strip-picking at the end of the season and to spray early. He also talked high prices. “For us to sell Ka'u, we need the quality.”

Farmers were urged to become involved with the Hawai'i Coffee Association’s annual convention this summer. See

To learn more about the Ka'u Coffee Festival events visit our website at

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Celebration In It's 7th Year: 2015 Ho'olaule'a

Hula performances were given by three different halau's at the 2015 Ka'u Coffee Festival Ho'olaule'a. Photos by Jesse Tunison
Saturday's (May 2) Ka'u Coffee Festival 7th Annual Ho'olaule'a at the Pahala Community Center featured a full day of free entertainment, with performers coming from as far away as Japan, Ka'u coffee tastings, prize raffles and crafts and food offered by a range of vendors.

Musician Bolo. Photo by Julia Neal
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. festival attendees were welcome to enjoy hula performances by Halau Hula Kalehuaki'eki'eika'iu, Hannah's Makana 'Ohana Hula Halau, and Halau Hula O Leionalani as they were serenaded by musical artists including Hands Of Time, 2015 Miss Ka'u Coffee Queen Maria Miranda, Keaiwa and Demetrius Oliveira, Bolo, South Side Serenaders, Keoki Kahumoku, Kulele, Kookoo Bird & Friends and Moses, Makana & Bradley.

Vendors from around the island offered information, crafts, games and dinning experiences ranging from plate lunches, poi, sandwiches, snacks, baked goods, shave ice, beverages, Ka'u coffee tastings and products. Keiki enjoyed bouncing castles and slides as well as train rides around the festival grounds.

Annabelle Orcino was the lucky winner of this year's Buy Local, It Matters raffle with a $1,000 check presented by Miss Ka'u Coffee Queen Maria Miranda and Ka'u Coffee Festival organizer Chris Manfredi. The promotion, now in it's third year at the Ka'u Coffee Festival Ho'olaule'a, encourages residents to frequent local businesses during the weeks prior to the festival.

Photo by Geneveve Fyvie
During the Ka'u Coffee Experience, expert baristas prepared and served free samples of Ka'u coffees using a wide variety of techniques. These methods included, Hario Pour-over, Clever, French Press, Chemex and Toddy Cold-brew plus a variety of espresso beverages, such as lattes.

Photo by Geneveve Fyvie
Throughout the day, participants were shuttled from the festival to tour Ka'u Coffee farms and the  Ka'u Coffee Mill, where visitors learned how beans are processed and roasted while enjoying coffee tastings and demonstrations.

For more about our annual events, see our website at

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Star Gazing in Ka'u

Photos by Jesse Tunison
Ka'u is a place of natural beauty, with vast open landscapes and night skies unmarred by city buildings or lights. On their way to observe the heavens from the summit of Makanau, participants in our Ka'u Star Gazing event met at the Ka'u Coffee Mill early Friday (May 1) evening and were shuttled up to the site before sunset.

Once there, John Cross - an employee of the Edmund C. Olson Trust II - spoke of the history of the lands below and the significance of Makanau, a famous sacred site and lookout place for Hawaiians.

Guests were welcome to take a moment and enjoy the view before settling into the temporary camp site to watch the sunset and discover the nights sky with laser beams they had been loaned and a brief astronomy lesson.

Participants were asked to sign-up in advance and pay $35 per person. To sign up for next year's event, see or call (808) 928-0550. To learn more about what the Ka'u Coffee Festival has to offer see our website at

Aikane Plantation Coffee & Cattle Day

Photos by Jesse Tunison
Merle and Phil Becker of Aikane Plantation Coffee Farm escorted participants on tours of their coffee farm and cattle ranch on Friday (May 1) via horseback, RTV and hay bale rides followed by a scrumptious buffet during "Coffee & Cattle Day."
Merle, a descendant of the first coffee farmer in Ka'u, shared her family's historical involvement in the Ka'u coffee industry. She also explained how coffee can be integrated into cattle ranching and other agriculture.

In 1894, “Papa” J. C. Searle, Merle’s great-grandfather, planted his first crop of coffee in Ka‘u. His coffee became very popular and received many favorable comments from the local media. Due to a competition for laborers with the sugar plantation, “Papa’s” dream was lost but not forgotten. Over one hundred years later, Aikane Plantation Coffee Company was established by Merle and Phil Becker.
During this year's event, 2014 Miss Ka'u Coffee Amery Silva and 2011 Little Miss Paniolo 1st Princess Lorilee Lorenzo - a two time award winner at the Ka'u Recipe Contest - demonstrated their ranching skills on horseback as they assisted in roping and branding new calves. 

Visit or phone (808) 927-2252 to reserve your place for next year's event. Participants were asked to pay $25 per person to attend.

For more about the Ka'u Coffee Festival see our website at

Friday, May 1, 2015

A Hike To Remember

Photos by Jesse Tunison
The 2015 Ka'u Mountain Water Systems Hike was extended an extra day this year to accommodate those interested in joining the hike after all 35 spots for Wednesday's event were filled.

Participants met with their respective guides at the Ka'u Coffee Mill on Wednesday and Thursday morning and were then shuttled to the trail head.

The guided hike - over moderate terrain - wanders through the Hawaiian rainforest of 'ohia, uluhe, hapu'u and many other native plant species as participants are serenaded by endemic birds like the 'apapane, 'amakihi, and 'io. The path follows that of historic flume systems from the sugarcane era that have recently been repaired and are now being reused for agricultural purposes in the Wood Valley area. Eventually these flumes will help generate enough electricity to power the Ka'u Coffee Mill and other agricultural endeavors, such mechanically hulling macadamia nuts. Those on the walk were taken to see the development of the hydroelectric power project. 

Hikers were welcomed to take a further journey to the natural water source, a tunnel, once a lava tube, that contains a naturally forming pool of fresh water, filtered by the native rainforest.

Participants were invited to sit and appreciate the natural beauty of their surroundings as they were given refreshments, pre-packed lunches and talk story about their journey.

This official Ka'u Coffee Festival event was designed and offered by the Ka'u Coffee Mill, a subsidiary of Edmund C. Olson Trust II. Guests were asked to sign-up in advance and pay a fee of $40 per person.

Join us for our remaining 2015 events: Ho'olaule'a - Main Event (May 2), Coffee College (May 3). See our main site for more information: