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Hawaii's Other Coffee: Ka'u Coffee Festival, May 14-15


It's farmers and pageant queens celebrating in Ka'u, the rural Big Island region now producing world-class coffee.

Courtesy Ka'u Coffee Festival

Kona Coffee has the reputation.  But the Big Island has another coffee region coming on strong.  Ka'u has four or five dozen small coffee farms.

"In the old days, everywhere in Hawaii grew coffee," says Shawn "Dr. Coffee" Steiman, author of the Hawaii Coffee Book.  "Since the '90s Ka'u has really come back.  Some of the coffee grown there is the most interesting in the state: sweet, floral and complex."






In 2010, the Specialty Coffee Association of America named as "Coffee of the Year" a Ka'u coffee called Rising Sun.  Rising Sun is grown by Will and Grace Tabios (above) on a seven-acre farm in Naalehu.  Six out of 10 finalists in the international competition were Ka'u coffees.

Another Ka'u coffee, Rusty's Hawaiian, won the Hawaii Coffee Association's 2010 statewide cupping competition.

Should you wish to celebrate this success, or simply taste a coffee that's quickly gaining a following among connoisseurs, Ka'u is celebrating its annual Coffee Festival May 14-15.

Compared to Kona's weeklong Coffee Festival, Ka'u's is down-home.  The big day for the public is Saturday, May 14, with a Miss Ka‘u Coffee pageant, hoolaulea, recipe contest, food booths, coffee tastings and farm tours.

Sunday, May 15, is coffee seminars and more farm tours.

Admission is free, $5 for the coffee tasting and recipe contest, $10 for farm tours.

When was the last time you saw Ka'u? 

Here's a bonus: Starting next week radio station KSSK will be giving away two trips for two to the festival, with airfare and hotel, plus full admission and a chance to judge the recipe contest.  Enter on the station website starting Monday, April 25.

It's a chance to see an outpost of rural Hawaii which is turning out a coffee that's handpicked, sun-dried and world-class. 

For more festival information, click here.

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