Monday, April 30, 2018

Recipe Contest Winners for 2018

Miss Ka‘ū Coffee and members of her Court attended the Ka‘ū Coffee Recipe Contest on Sunday, April 29, at Ka‘ū Coffee Mill. From left: Miss Kaʻū Coffee Reishalyn Kekoa Jara, First Flower Kysha Kaʻupu-Manini, First Miss Kaʻū Coffee Princess Helena Nihipali-Sesson, Second Flower Lilianna Marques, Jr. Miss Kaʻū Coffee Cristina Kawewehi, and Miss Kaʻū Coffee Peaberry Jacelyn Kekoa Jara. 
Photo by Denise Laitinen/ Kaʻū Coffee Festival
Peggy Kilkenny's Huli BBQ Chicken in Paradise,
First place winner at our 2018 Ka‘ū Coffee
Festival Recipe Contest. Photo by Julia Neal
Yesterday's Ka‘ū Coffee Recipe Contest drew hungry coffee foodies to the Ka‘ū Coffee Mill to taste the many original creations of pupu, entrées, and desserts made with Ka‘ū coffee.
     First place in the Pupu category went to Sally Louis for her Ka‘ū Coffee Flavored Wonton. Second went to Austin Kilkenny for his Festive Kalua Enchilada Dip. Third went to Elgon Villanueva for his Ka‘ū Coffee Soybeans.
     First place in the Entrée category went to Peggy Kilkenny for her Huli BBQ Chicken in Paradise. Second went to Suzette Louis for her Marinated Steak, and third went to Austin Kilkeny for his Ka‘ū Chili Mac.
     First place in the Dessert category went to Tiana Villanueva for her Irish Cream Cookies. Second went to Suzette Louis for her Ka‘ū Coffee Cream Puffs, and third went to Peggy Kilkenny for her Tropical Temptations.
     Judges were Ka‘ū Coffee Growers Cooperative President Gloria Camba, Ka‘ū Coffee farmer Ann Fontes, and WikiWiki Store owner Carl Okuyama. Also in attendance with song and dance were members of the Miss Ka‘ū Coffee Court who were crowned last weekend.
Sally Louis's Ka‘ū Coffee Flavored Wontons, First place
winner at our 2018 Ka‘ū Coffee Festival Recipe Contest.
Photo by Julia Neal
     All foods in the competition were made with Ka‘ū Coffee and attendees enjoyed sampling of all the entries. Emcee was Makana Kamahele, assisted by First Miss Ka‘ū Coffee Helena Nihipali-Sesson, who also entertained with Hawaiian music with her father Guy Sesson.
     Two other events organized by Ka‘ū Coffee Mill, the Ka‘ū Mountain Water Systems Hike and Ka‘ū Stargazing, are sold out.
     Ka‘ū Coffee and macadamia tasting are available Monday through Saturdays at Ka‘ū Coffee Mill and the mill will be a stop on the farm tours this coming Saturday, May 5.

See, our Facebook page and Twitter or for more.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

A Night Of Celebration and Song

Kaʻu Coffee Festival kicked off Friday, April 27, at Pahala Plantation House. First Miss Kaʻu Coffee Helena 
Nihipali-Sesson sang Kaiholena about the mystical mountain above the coffee farms between Pahala and Na‘alehu.
Photo by Julia Neal 
The 2018 Miss Kaʻu Coffee Court made their
debut at the Paʻina & Open House at Pahala
House last night. Photo by Julia Neal
Ka‘u Coffee farmers, friends and newcomers joined together last night, April 27, to celebrate the beginning of the 10th Annual Ka‘u Coffee Festival during our Paʻina & Open House event at Pahala Plantation House.
     Our 2018 Miss Kaʻu Coffee Court made its first public appearance with Queen Reishalyn Kekoa Jara, sharing her Tahitian dance talent. First Miss Ka‘u Coffee Helena Nihipali-Sesson sang Kaiholena, the composition about the mystical mountain between Pahala and Naʻalehu, written at a music composition workshop led by Daniel Ho during a previous Ka‘u Coffee Festival.
     Miss Peaberry Jacelyn Kekoa Jara and Junior Miss Ka‘u Coffee Cristina Kawewehi both performed hula. Miss Ka‘u Coffee Flower Telia Espejo-Navarro and her court Kysha Kaupu Manini and Lilianna Marques made an appearance in their gowns.
     The band Shootz, with Harry Evangelista, Terry Louis, Tui Masaniai and Gabriel and Cheryl Cuevas, made its Ka‘u Coffee Festival debut and will play again on Saturday, May 5, at the all-day Hoʻolauleʻa at Pāhala Community Center (9 a.m. to 5 p.m., free entry). Guy Sesson, father of our First Miss Ka‘u Coffee Princess, performed with Volcano School of the Arts music teacher Hal Tredinnick and his daughter Jade Malia. A piano singing trio - Lora, Ruslan, and Alla - also performed.
Miss Kaʻu Coffee Reishalyn Kekoa Jara, 
dancing Tahitian. Photo by Julia Neal
     Ka‘u Coffee farmers and marketers, just back from the Specialty Coffee Association of America event in Seattle, reported good reception of Ka‘u Coffee at the Hawaiʻi Coffee Association booth. Many other Ka‘u Coffee farmers were wrapping up the care for their farms at the end of a season that brought in some of the highest prices and most demand ever for Ka‘u coffee.


     Kaʻu Coffee Recipe Contest at Ka‘u Coffee Mill is tomorrow, Sunday, April 29, starting at 11 a.m. The public is invited to taste coffee and sample foods made exclusively with Kaʻu Coffee. Free. 928-0550,
Miss Ka‘u Peaberry Jacelyn 
Kekoa Jara and Junior Miss 
Kaʻu Coffee Coffee Cristina 
Kawewehi performed hula at 
the Paʻina last night. 
Photo by Julia Neal
     The Ka‘u Mountain Water System Hike is sold out on Wednesday, as is Ka‘u Star Gazing on Friday.

     Ka‘u Valley Farms Tour is still open for reservations for Thursday, May 3, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with participants meeting at their nursery on Ka‘alaiki Rd, Na‘alehu. Explore hydroponic nursery, and tea and coffee plantings. Expansive hilltop views, mountain to coast. Includes water systems and tunnels from sugar days, and native Hawaiian forest tour. $35 per person; includes lunch. Reservations required. John Cross, 987-4229; Brenda Iokepa-Moses, 731-5409,

     Ka‘u Coffee & Cattle Day at Aikane Plantation Coffee Company's farm located above Pahala on the old Cane Haul Road is also open for reservations. The event takes place on Friday, May 4, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tour the farm and learn how coffee is integrated into cattle ranching and other agriculture. $25 per person; includes BBQ buffet and hayrides. Reservations required, 927-2252,

Shootz band, left - who will play May 5 at the Hoʻolauleʻa - and Guy Sesson, Hal Tredinnick, and Jade Malia, focus
on Hawaiian music at the kickoff party for Ka‘u Coffee Festival. Photo by Julia Neal
     Tenth Annual Ka‘u Coffee Festival Ho‘olaule‘a is Saturday, May 5, from 9 a.m to 5 p.m., at the Pahala Community Center. Celebrate Ka‘ū Coffee with free music, hula entertainment, and coffee tastings all day long. Local vendor booths. Food and beverage sales. Free to attend. Ka‘u Coffee Experience:  from 9:30 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., discover the methods behind brewing the perfect cup while enjoying free coffee tastings. Farm & Mill Tours, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., $20/person.

     Ka‘u Coffee College, Sun, May 6, 9-noon, Pahala Community Center. Informative talks given by visiting coffee experts. Free; donations appreciated.

For more about any and all our events, visit our website at

Kaʻu Coffee Recipe Contest starts at 11 a.m. Sunday, April 29, featuring recipes made exclusively with Kaʻu Coffee. 
Drop by to see, smell, and taste entries. Photo by Julia Neal

Sunday, April 22, 2018

2018 Miss Ka‘u Coffee Court Announced!

Reishalyn Kekoa Jara, Miss Kaʻu Coffee Queen 2018 with Edmund C. Olson. Photo by Julia Neal

Congratulations to our new Miss Ka‘u Coffee Queen Reishalyn Kekoa Jara!

Reishalyn dancing Tahitian.
Photo by Julia Neal
     Reishalyn, a Junior at Ka‘u High School who loves her family and sports, was crowned on Saturday night (April 21, 2018) by our 2017 Miss Ka‘u Coffee Queen Jami Beck. Reishalyn, 16, won with Tahitian dance in Talent, and also took first in Gown and Miss Photogenic categories. She is the daughter of Regulo Jara and Brenda Kekoa, of Naʻalehu, and sister to Jadelyn, Chaycen, Blaycen, Kamalyn, Jacelyn, and Regulo. 
First Miss Kaʻu Coffee Princess Helena Nihipali-Sesson
and father Guy Sesson. Photo by Julia Neal
     The pageant, directed by Trini Marques, saw Helena K. Nihiplai-Sesson take the title of First Princess. Helena, 16, is also a student at Ka‘u High School and loves singing, playing ʻukulele, and dancing hula. She took first in Career-Interview, second in Talent and Photogenic, and third in Swimsuit and Gown. Her talent was singing and playing ‘ukulele. She is the daughter of Guy Sesson and Sherraine Nihipali-Sesson, of Pahala. Her adoptive parents are Bradford and Jadelyn Moses, of Pahala. She is sister to Asia, Ocean, and Rain.
Second Miss Kaʻu Coffee Princess
Karlee Fukunaga-Camba.
Photo by Julia Neal
     Second  Princess is Karlee Kaliya Kealaikamaile Fukunaga-Camba, who is also 16. Karlee loves dancing. She took second in Swimsuit, and third in Career-Interview and Gown. Her parents are Keala and Justine Camba, of Pahala. She is sister to Tyren Fukunaga-Camba.
     Sheri Lynn Freitas, 18, took home the title of Third Princess. She is a graduate of Kaʻu High & Pahala Elementary School and currently a student at University of Hawaiʻi-Hilo and excels in sports and business. Sheri took third in Talent and Photogenic. She is the daughter of Rodney and Marlene Freitas, of Pahala. She is sister to Jessica, Michaela, Shaelia, and Ikaika. 
     As Miss Kaʻu Coffee, Reishalyn will represent the Kaʻu Coffee industry throughout the year at events in the community and beyond, with those appearances sponsored by the Edmund C. Olson Trust, II. 

Congratulations to our new Jr. Miss Ka‘u Coffee Cristina Nicole Akiko Lokelani Kawewehi!

Jr. Miss Kaʻu Coffee Cristina
Kawewehi (front) and Miss Ka‘u
Peaberry Jacelyn Jara (back). 

Photo by Pam Taylor
     Cristina, 12, attends Ka‘u High & Pahala Elementary School. She took first in Career-Interview, Evening Gown, and Photogenic. Cristina is the daughter of Angelica Kawewehi and Bill Lorenzo, of Pahala. She is sister to Kapono, Mia, Keana, and Zachary Kuluwaimaka.
       First Princess is Jacie Umemoto, 12. She is the daughter of Michael and Valerie Pakale, of Pahala, and sister to Moki. Jacie attends Volcano School of Arts & Sciences.

Congratulations to our new Miss Ka‘u Coffee Peaberry Jaceyln Kaleipua Kekoa Jara!

     Jacelyn, 10, is the daughter of Brenda Kekoa and Regulo Jara, of Naʻalehu, and granddaughter of William "Brada" Kekoa and Lani Kekoa of Kamaoa, Kaʻu. She is sister to Jadelyn, Blaycen, Reishalyn, Kamalyn, Chaycen, and Regulo. She attends Nāʻālehu Elementary School.
     First Princess is Tenielle Jade Ducosin Blanco, 8. She is the daughter of Ted and Donielle Blanco, of Naʻalehu. She is sister to Triton and Teagan-Elis.

Kysha Kaupu-Manini is First 
Miss Ka‘u Coffee Flower.

Photo by Julia Neal 

Congratulations to our new Miss Ka‘u Coffee Flower Telia Aliyana Kauliakau‘i Espejo-Navarro!

     Telia, 6, is the daughter of Elias and Alyssa Navarro, of Naʻalehu. She is sister to Tehani-Mae, Kilinahe, Kanaʻi, and Koaliʻi. Telia attends kindergarten at Naʻalehu Elementary School.
     First Flower is Kysha Kainanimaueonalani Ka‘upu-Manini is First Flower. She is the daughter of Sasha Kaupu and Kai Manini, of Pahala. The three year old attends Naʻalehu Elementary School.
     Second Flower is Lilianna Marques. She is daughter of Shawn Marques and Kuulei Marques. She is sister to John Michael and attends kindergarten at Pahala Elementary School.

Congratulations to all who participated and mahalo to all those who donated and volunteered!

Photo by Pam Taylor
     In addition to their crowns and trophies, all contestants received scholarships in varying amounts, with a total amount of $6,200 donated. Major funders for this year's pageant were Edmund C. Olson, Kaʻu Mahi, Kaʻu Valley Farms, CU Hawaiʻi Federal Credit Union, Punaluʻu Bake Shop, Pacific Quest, Kaʻu Local Products, Sen. Russell Ruderman, Sen. Josh Green, Rep. Richard Creagan, and County Council member Maile David.
     The Miss Kaʻu Coffee Court will meet the public this Friday at Pahala Plantation House at 6 p.m. for Pa‘ina & Open House, for the second event of the tenth annual Kaʻū Coffee Festival.
     See all the events at

Monday, April 16, 2018

New Event Announced for Ka‘u Coffee Festival 2018!

A new event in the Ka‘u Coffee Festival line-up offers attendees the opportunity to explore the nursery where Ka‘u Valley Farms grows hydroponic vegetables for local restaurants and public sale as well as see the plantings of Ka‘u coffee and tea - Camelia sinensis. Join us for Ka‘u Valley Farms Tour on Thursday, May 3, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Ka‘u Valley Farms Nursery, on Ka‘alaiki Road in Na‘alehu.
     Guests will then be taken up the slopes of Kahilipali Ahupua‘a to view the expansive green pastures that sit above Na‘alehu. At the top of Pu‘u Ho‘omaha (Hill of Leisure), listen to stories of the Ahupua‘a and land tenure from the Kingdom to present, and gaze upon the coastline of Ka‘u from Puna to South Point. The hills of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park's Kahuku Unit can be seen in the distance as well as the fields of Makino Valley - relatively unknown to many, as it lies hidden from below the summit of Ho‘omaha.
     The tour includes visiting the water system being developed from the old Kahilipali and Kapuna Tunnels from sugar days.
     The tour ends with a brief walk into the 85 acre pristine native Hawaiian forest - never converted to sugarcane - at Ka‘u Valley Farms. The tour is expected to finish back at the nursery by 2 p.m. at the latest.
     Participants meet at the Ka‘u Valley Farms Nursery at 9 a.m. to park private vehicles - to reach the site, turn mauka (towards the mountain) at Ka‘alaki Road in Na‘alehu at the intersection of Hwy 11 and Punalu‘u Bake Shop. Proceed up Ka‘alaiki Road to just beyond the County cemetary and then follow the signs to the nursery.
     Reservations can be made by calling John Cross at 808-987-4229 or Brenda Iokepa-Moses at 731-5409. Admission is $35 per person, which includes lunch and transportation to and from meeting site.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Night Skies Unmarred by City Lights

Join us on Friday, May 4, for Ka‘u Start Gazing, to take in Ka‘u’s natural beauty, with vast open landscapes and night skies unmarred by city lights. Participants meet guides at the Edmund C. Olson Trust II building in Pahala, corner of Maile and Pikake Streets, at 5:30 p.m. and are then transported via shuttle up and over to the summit of Makanau, from which the star-studded heavens can easily be admired.
     Learn about the history of the lands below and the significance of Makanau, a famous sacred site and lookout place for Hawaiians as Demetrius Oliveira shares history and stories of Makanau.
     Guests are then 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 (loaned by Ka‘u Coffee Mill), complete with a brief astronomy lesson.
     Admission is $45 per person, which includes refreshments and shuttle ride to and from meeting site. Seating is limited so reserve your spot in advance! See or call (808) 928-0550 for more. 
For a complete list of upcoming Ka‘u Coffee Festival events, visit

Monday, April 9, 2018

Ka‘u Coffee & Cattle Day Returns for 2018

A popular event in previous years, Ka‘u Coffee & Cattle Day was temporarily unavailable last year but has returned to our line-up for 2018! Aikane Plantation Coffee Farm hosts the event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., on Friday, May 4, offering hayride tours of their operation and a savory BBQ buffet. 
     Join in and enjoy touring through Merle and Phil Becker’s Aikane Plantation Coffee Farm, where descendants of the first coffee farmer in Ka‘u explain how coffee is 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 the Becker’s.
     Visit or phone (808) 927-2252 to reserve your place. Admission is $25 per person, which includes BBQ buffet and hayrides. 

For a complete list of upcoming Ka‘u Coffee Festival events, visit

Thursday, April 5, 2018

An Exploration Through Native Hawaiian Forest

Join Shalan Crysdale of The Nature Conservancy and Ka‘u conservationist John Replogle on Wednesday, May 2, as they lead you through native Hawaiian rainforest, walking alongside restored flume systems of the sugarcane era. Observe the old wooden flumes that carried water down the mountain to float sugar to the mill, as you listen to native birds and take in the fresh air of Ka‘u. 
     Learn about native flora and fauna and why native Hawaiian rainforests are so effective at recharging underground aquifers. Ka‘u Mountain Water Systems Hike takes participants over moderate to difficult terrain. 
     Participants meet at Ka‘u Coffee Mill in Wood Valley above Pahala at 8:30 a.m., departing at 9 a.m., and return by 2 p.m. after enjoying lunch in the forest. Call (808) 928-0550 for to reserve your space. The guided hike, limited to 30 people, is $45 per person (lunch included).
     For a complete list of upcoming Ka‘u Coffee Festival events, visit

Monday, April 2, 2018

Delight in Coffee Flavored Cuisine

Taste coffee flavored pupu (appetizers), entrées and desserts as creative cooks, adults and students, display their talents with original recipes at the Ka‘u Coffee Recipe Contest on Sunday, April 29. Ka‘u Coffee Mill hosts this official Ka‘u Coffee Festival event, which begins at 11 a.m. All are welcome to come and sample free coffee and recipe entries. 
     Those interested in becoming a contestant, should contact Ka‘u Coffee Mill, by calling 808-928-0550 or emailing, or download a Rules and Entry Form from Entry forms can also be found at Ka‘u Coffee Mill or Mizuno Superette in Pahala. Completed applications are due back by Friday, April 20. Two printed, legible copies of each recipe for each entry must be submitted with entry form.
     Entries must be plated and presented at Ka‘u Coffee Mill no later than 10 a.m. Sunday, April 29. No cooking facilities are provided. Contestants must be present to win. There is no entry fee.
     There is a limit of one entry per category, per contestant, with no more than 20 entries per category allowed in the competition. Recipes will be judged Sunday, Apr. 29, 11 a.m., at Ka‘u Coffee Mill. Youth and adult submissions will be judged separately. All recipes must be made with coffee grown in Ka‘u.
     Come support the applicants as you enjoy free live entertainment, meet Miss Ka‘u Coffee, tour the Ka‘u Coffee Mill and farms, and indulge yourself in free coffee and recipe tastings.
     For a complete list of upcoming Ka‘u Coffee Festival events, visit