Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Coffee Industry Experts Share

Coffee industry experts from near and far joined us on Sunday, May 6, for our annual Ka‘ū Coffee College event. The educational day wrapped up our 10th Annual Ka‘ū Coffee Festival and was one of the best attended to date.

Getting the Most Out of Your Coffee Moisture Meter - a presentation by Fred Seeber of Shore Systems, a leading manufacturer of coffee moisture meters, explained how testers work and why they are important. Attendees were invited to bring their testers for Seeber to check them for calibration.

Pruning Techniques to Maximize Yields - offered by University of Hawai‘i’s Andrea Kawabata, an assistant extension agent for coffee and orchard crops with UH's CTAHR cooperative extension service, and Tom Greenwell, president and long-time coffee farmer of Greenwell Farms - explained how proper pruning can promote tree health, which improves yield efficiency, profit margins, coffee quality, and sustainability for growers. 

Photos by Julia Neal
Quality Control in Roasting - a workshop by Brian Webb of Pacific Coffee Research of South Kona, a specialty coffee association training campus, coffee lab, roastery, and community education center - discussed the importance of profile roasting. He did an on-site, sample roasting, and then demonstrated data logging software to keep detailed records for future analysis.

Royal Fuji demonstrated its small scale, professional roaster to the Ka‘ū Coffee College crowd.

For more about the Ka‘ū Coffee Festival and the events planned for 2019, see kaucoffeefestival.com.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Night Skies of Ka‘ū

Photo by Andrew Hara

Photo by Fern Gavelek
Ka‘ū Coffee Mill's Ka‘ū Star Gazing event on Friday, May 4, brought attendees to the summit of Makanau, a place of historical and cultural significance in Hawai‘i. From this vantage point, a vast open view of agricultural ranch lands of grassy fields and brush filled lava plains, along with a glistening coastline in its raw natural beauty can be appreciated. Mauka (towards the mountain), further up the slopes of Mauna Loa, one can see an extensive stretch of dark green native rainforest. Pāhala and the surrounding coffee and macadamia nut orchards can also be seen in the distance.

An hour into their experience, attendees are welcomed to sit and observe the skies make a glorious shift in color as sunset falls. As one might imagine, the wild landscapes below create a night sky unmarred by city lights, making every star clear and bright on a cloudless night. The milky way can be explored and absorbed in its full glory from this grassy hilltop in Ka‘ū.

In addition to stories about the land and star gazing information, the event offers telescopes and laser pointers to help navigate the night skies. Light refreshments and beverages are also provided.

For more about Ka‘ū Coffee Mill, visit kaucoffeemill.com. For more about the Ka‘ū Coffee Festival and our events planned for 2019, visit kaucoffeefestival.com.

A Taste of Hawai‘i Ranch Life

Photo by Lee Neal
Aikane Plantation Coffee Company's Coffee and Cattle Day drew much appreciation for Kaʻū Coffee growing and ranch life during the tenth Kaʻū Coffee Festival on Friday, May 4.

Owners Merle and Phil Becker Merle and Phil Becker spoke of the history of their coffee growing journey that dates back to 1894, when Merle’s great grandfather “Papa” J.C. Searle planted his first crop of coffee in Ka’ū. Searle’s coffee “became very popular and received many favorable comments from the local media,” however due to the competing sugar industry he was unable to continue his efforts.

Over 100 years later, Aikane Plantation Coffee Company was established by his great-granddaughter. The Beckers believe that this combined with the fact that their coffee is grown exclusively in Ka’ū, creates the perfect blend of richness and flavor.

During the event, attendees took a tractor driven hay bale ride through the ranch and investigated the coffee plantation. They also enjoyed a large BBQ buffet, complete with Ka‘ū Coffee.

Photos by Fern Gavelek
Aikane Plantation often represents Kaʻū at Ag Day at the Hawaiʻi Legislature and the annual Made in Hawai‘i Show in Honolulu. The coffee farm supports two families who sell the Aikane brand at farmers markets and other locales on O‘ahu. The brand also has a strong market in Japan, the Beckers said.

Both Beckers are frequent volunteers at the Kaʻū Coffee Festival Hoʻoaluleʻa information booth. Phil is President of Kaʻū Farm Bureau.

For more about Aikane Plantation Coffee Company, see aikaneplantation.com. For more information about the Ka‘ū Coffee Festival and a calendar of our events planned for 2019, visit kaucoffeefestival.com.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

10th Annual Festival, Tons of Fun

Photos by Geneveve Fyvie
Our 10th Annual Ka‘u Coffee Festival Ho‘olaule‘a on Saturday, May 5, drew record attendance with Ka‘u coffee sales higher than previous events. Miss Kaʻu Coffee Queen Reishalyn Kekoa Jara and her court reigned over the event. Baristas and experts in brewing presented free local coffee tastings, prepared using a variety of methods, to enthusiasts. Many visited coffee farms and Kaʻu Coffee Mill. 

Attendees also enjoyed free tastings of award winning coffee from the farmers themselves at their booths and bought other locally grown and sourced produce, such as roasted macadamia nuts, raw honey, oolong and black tea, fresh salad greens, free range eggs, and grass fed beef from local small businesses.

Vendors also offered an assortment of crafts and homemade items such as jewelry, clothing, hats and bags. Various non-profit organizations from the community hosted booths and shared information and spread their missions of community health and conservation.

Over a dozen community groups and businesses vended food and drinks - from lemonade and blended beverages to sweet treats and plate lunches. Innovators in coffee production, from milling to roasting, reached out to the farm community. 

Under skies cooled by the haze from nearby Kilauea Volcano, headliner band Hoʻaikane inspired the crowd to dance. Music ranged from Jawaiian and Hawaiian to Puerto Rican and Rock N' Roll.

The entertainment lineup was emcee Makana Kamahele, Ho‘aikane, Hands of Time, Hannah's Makana ‘Ohana Halau, Shootz, Halau Hula O Leionalani, Keaiwa & Demetrius, El Leo - The Jarican Express, The Lucky Lizard Band, Backyahd Braddahs, and Bolo.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Touring Diversified Agriculture in Ka‘u

Hydroponic lettuce in a greenhouse ready for eating. Photos by Lee Neal

Guests help out with the tea planting.

John Cross, Kaʻu Valley Farms Land Manager,
points to nursery specimens.
Photos by Lee Neal 
Our first Ka‘u Coffee Festival Ka‘u Valley Farms Tour yesterday, Thursday, May 3, showed participants the diversified agricultural endeavors taking place on 1,500 acres that climb the slopes of Kahilipali Ahuapua‘a, the hill behind Naʻalehu. The tour featured coffee, tea, sweet potatoes, lettuce, and other vegetables. 

Lee Segawa, Kaʻu Valley Farms Farm Manager, 
shows attendees which part of the plant is used 
to make tea, the new growth.
Guests visited green houses where young plants are started, some hydroponically, and the fields where many grow out. The owners are in the process of planting a large tea farm as well as growing food to be sold locally.

A trip to a water tunnel, lunch from a local restaurant, including locally sourced vegetables, were on the itinerary. Farm Manager Lee Segawa explained how crops are grown. Land Manager John Cross told the history of the plantation water system and the land itself. 

Kaʻu Valley Farms grows sweet potatoes below
the hillside, looking out to Naʻalehu and the Pacific.
A brief walk into the 85-acre Native Forest upon the lands - a forest area that was never converted into sugarcane provided a glimpse into original, pristine native Hawaiian forest. 

Visitors also received some hands-on experience, helping to plant Camelia sinensis tea plants and sampling hydroponic lettuces.

For more, visit kauvalley.com. To see if this event will be offered next year, visit our website at kaucoffeefestival.com.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Exploring A Pristine Rainforest and Sugar Cane Era Flumes

Photos by Lee Neal

Yesterday's sold out Ka‘u Mountain Water Systems Hike was led by Kaʻu's new Planning Commissioner John Replogle, The Nature Conservancy's Shalan Crysdale, and Kaʻū Coffee Mill's Manager Lou Danielle.
They explained how the old sugar plantation around Pahala created a water system, now used for irrigating different crops from coffee to macadamia. In the future, the water running down the mountain could provide the energy to run a hydroelectric plant being developed by the Edmund C. Olson Trust, which owns Kaʻu Coffee Mill. That electricity could potentially run the mill and manufacture other value added farm products.
     All the while, the area remains as one of the most pristine native Hawaiian rainforests. It is also a place where local hunters catch pigs and cultural practitioners gather native foliage used in ceremonies and in hula, including maile woven into lei.
     The hikers left from Kaʻu Coffee Mill, riding through the coffee orchards, up the mountain and into the rainforest. They walked along trails from sugar plantation days.
     Features of the hike included the sugar cane-era wooden flume system that used to carry cane to the mill. Also along the way were pipes carrying the water for irrigation and toward the hydroelectric plant.
     The hikers had a chance to observe the natural area, with the sights, smells, and sounds of a mostly undisturbed rainforest.

Learn more about our upcoming events at kaucoffeefestival.com.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Coffee Industry Experts Visit Ka‘u

Leaders in the specialty coffee industry will join us at the Pahala Community Center on Sunday, May 6, to present a host of educational opportunities for island coffee farmers at our annual Ka‘u Coffee College, 9 a.m. to pau. Part of the 10th annual Ka‘u Coffee Festival, our final event for 2018 marks the anniversary by offering a new Shore 920 C moisture meter to a lucky college attendee.
     The annual educational series has proven to be a place of learning, sharing and networking—featuring the coffee's leading professionals from around the globe. A reverse trade mission, it brings industry experts to Ka‘u to interface with local growers and make valuable connections.
     "This year's college again stages notable coffee professionals to help farmers with their challenges," notes long-time festival organizer Chris Manfredi. "These talks will certainly reinforce the exceptionally high quality for which Ka‘u coffee has become famous, but also ensure there is a steady supply of it. As we reach more markets, we need a solid supply of quality coffees to meet the increasing demand while ensuring growers remain profitable." 
     The college opens with Getting the Most Out of Your Coffee Moisture Meter, a presentation by Fred Seeber of Shore Measuring Systems, a leading manufacturer of coffee moisture meters used throughout the world's major coffee producing regions. Manfredi said Seeber's talk "will go into great depth about how testers work and why they are important." Attendees are invited to bring their testers to "class" and Seeber will check them for calibration.
Andrea Kawabata
   Pruning Techniques to Maximize Yields
is offered by University of Hawai‘i's Andrea Kawabata and Tom Greenwell, president and long-time coffee farmer of Greenwell Farms. Based in Kona, Kawabata is an assistant extension agent for coffee and orchard crops with UH's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources cooperative extension service. This second segment explains how proper pruning can promote tree health, which improves yield efficiency, profit margins, coffee quality and sustainability for growers.
Brian Webb
     Quality Control in Roasting will be explored in a workshop by Brian Webb of Pacific Coffee Research. Located in South Kona, PCB is a specialty coffee association training campus, coffee lab, roastery and community education center. With experience as both a barista and Kona roaster, Webb discusses the importance of profile roasting. He will do an on-site, sample roasting and then demonstrate data logging software to keep detailed records for future analysis.
     Admission to the Ka‘u Coffee College is free, though donations are appreciated.

The Ka‘u Coffee Festival is underway and all activities are open to the general public; some require a fee. Find details at www.kaucoffeefestival.com