Best In The World Hawaiian Ka'u Coffee Festival Farmers Do It Again
The Ka'u Coffee Festival on the Big Island of Hawaii in early May brought about as much business to Ka'u Coffee farmers as they could handle. Festival goers picked them clean. Farmers sold out, selling more than last year, and declaring that demand is starting to outstrip supply. For many farmers, however, this festival was a celebration of real achievement 16 years after the sugar industry shut down and some intrepid displaced workers started their own coffee farms.
The efforts the farmers and their cooperatives made are being hailed as one of the best examples of post-plantation small business success in Hawaii. Ka'u Coffee ranked in the top ten in the international 2012 Specialty Coffee Association of America's Coffees of the Year Competition where Ka'u Coffee growers have been winning year after year. Many of them have also noted that they are starting to make a pretty good living.
After the festival, the farmers were quick to set next year's date, May 4, to allow more time for people to plan to come from afar to the 2013 Ka'u Coffee Festival and spend more time in the Hawaiian paradise country setting of Ka'u. Minako Yamazaki, a Pahala homeowner and tourism marketer from Tokyo, who volunteered as a translator at the festival, said she is enthusiastic about Japanese visitors coming to Pahala for the event in 2013, especially since it will be held during "Golden Week", a time when Japanese like to travel abroad.
The Ho'olaule'a will be Saturday, May 4 at the Pahala Community Center with the Ka'u Coffee College to follow, same place, on May 5, so mark your calender and bring a lei. Organizers are also considering a second year of "pre-events" the weekend before the Ho'olaule'a, as this year's farm-to-table dinner at Kalaekilohana B&B Inn sold out at $100 per person, and the recipe contest at Ka'u Coffee Mill drew contestants and a BIG crowd. Should they be held again, a week of activities between pre-events and the Ho'olaule'a could expand the coffee festival to additoinal farm tours and visits to Volcano National Park and other attractions in and around Ka'u.
A continuing relationship that has developed through the Ka'u Coffee Festival has spawned cultural exchange and visitation between the small community of Lana'i and Ka'u, with participation at the festival by Kumu Hula (Hula Teacher) Debbie Ryder and her halau (Hula Class/School). The halau expanded this year to Pahala, and its local members are invited to the next Lana'i cultural festival.
In the near future, said Ron Johnson, of Pahala Plantation Cottages, which has hosted major entertainers for the festival for years, the Ka'u Coffee Festival could become an essential attraction and vacation destination for rentals and local Bed & Breakfasts. The Ka'u Coffee Fest website promotes visitor accommodations in Volcano and Ka'u in hopes of drawing not only festival-goers to the accommodations, but for visitors already planning to stay in the area for the festival.
This year's festival drew a $15,000 grant from the Hawaii Tourism Authority through the county Department of Research & Development's County Production And Enrichment Program. The Edmund C. Olson Trust II provided more than $7,500 for entertainment, transportation and Ka'u Coffee Recipe Contest prizes. There was cross promotion with Hilo Hattie, which is selling several Ka'u Coffee brands in its Hilo Store, including my farmer direct "Golden Ka'u Coffee".
This year's festival chair was Chris Manfredi, who represents owners of the land where much of the award-winning Ka'u Coffee is grown. He markets Ka'u Coffee, landed the Starbuck's account for Ka'u Coffee, where it sells for a much higher price, and can go for up to $85 a pound! He said that he is elated with this year's festival success and all the sponsors and volunteers who helped out. I am honored to live just down the street from the farmer and get it freshly picked and roasted direct from the farm and no other coffee in the world will compare, so better stock up while you can. Ahui Hou and Mahalo ("Until Next Time" and "Thank You") for reading my blog.
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Last activity: 9/21/17, 9:43 pm