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Hawaiian Coffee Leaders Reprising Farmer-Focused Cupping Program

coffee kona hawaii

A Kona coffee blossom. 2008 Creative Commons photo by Tim Wilson

A consortium of coffee industry leaders in Hawaii is reprising a cupping event introduced last year designed to provide farmers impartial assessments of coffee quality, and help educate them on the factors determining that quality.

The cupping is is not to be confused with the Hawaii Coffee Association’s 7th annual statewide cupping competition, a more traditional quality-focused competition being held on the same day that celebrates the great work already being done by Hawaiian producers. This is less about reaching buyers (consumers, roasters) and more about confidential assessments, information-sharing and quality-building.

“This workshop will focus on the farmer,” Andrea Kawabata, coffee and orchard crop extension agent with the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture, said in an announcement of this year’s program. “Farmers will learn about their own coffee and will leave with a sense of awareness and understanding of what they can do to improve quality and flavor.”

Kawabata is involved with the college’s Areawide Mitigation and Management for CBB project, in coordination with the USDA, which began in 2013 and is scheduled to run through 2018. Coffee borers have presented huge problems on several parts of the big island, and most recently have been found in Oahu, causing a recent quarantine. While that dark cloud looms over the heads of many Hawaiian producers, the workshop promises to explore numerous other factors affecting the cup, such as water management, fertilization, disease- and pest-mitigation, poor harvest practices, over-fermentation, under- and over-drying, and improper roasting. Says Kawabata, “These factors can cause major production, market, financial, labor and potentially legal risks for coffee growers.”

Lee Paterson, owner of Hula Daddy Kona Coffee, will provide assessments of each participating farm’s parchment and green coffee, while Miguel Meza of Isla Custom Coffees and Ka’u’s Rusty’s Hawaiian will conduct assessments of roasted and brewed coffees. Participating farmers are being asked to bring with them individual bags of parchment coffee, green coffee and some sample of their lightest-roasted coffee. The assessments will be followed by confidential evaluation forms mailed to each participating farmer.

The Coffee Quality Workshop for farmers is being held on July 18, in conjunction with the Hawaii Coffee Association’s 20th annual conference and trade show, which runs July 16-19 at King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel in Kailua-Kona. Registration information can be found here.


1 Comment


Why in the world would Kona coffee farmers subject their own product to the highly subjective judgement of a competitor?!? Maybe Mr Patterson and (his former employee) Mr Meza can then declare later that his own coffee beans proved to be “better” than other Kona coffee farms product?

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