Maui Food and Dining

Kona Coffee Winners Released in Historic Food Festival

November 15, 2015, 2:09 PM HST
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Coffee-inspired delicacies at the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, which has annouced its winners of the 2015 cupping competition.

Kona Coffee may come from the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, but it’s a source of pride throughout our state.

Winners of the coveted Kona Coffee Cupping Competition have been announced, following the 45th-annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival in Kona on Hawaiʻi Island. Aikane Kona Coffee won in the Classic Division for single-estate farms, and Arianna Farms Ono Kona Coffee captured its fourth win in the Kona Crown Competition Division for larger farms.

This competition evaluated nearly 70 single-estate farms and larger farm coffee entries with a blind tasting – including an exacting sniff, slurp and taste test – for each one.  It was part of the larger Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, which ran Nov. 6-15, recognized as the oldest and among the most successful food festivals in Hawaiʻi.  It featured coffee-inspired art, food and history, with a mission to preserve, perpetuate and promote Kona’s unique coffee heritage.

All coffee entries were 100% Kona coffee, grown solely in the district of Kona on the island of Hawaiʻi. State of Hawaiʻi law requires that any coffee labeled as Kona coffee must be of grade Prime or better. All submissions were marked with an anonymous number for a true blind taste competition.

“This year we have more variety with some of the taste profiles we are experiencing. It’s been pretty exciting especially for some of the judges who don’t get to cup a lot of Kona coffees all the time. They are surprised by the diversity of taste that they get here in Kona,” said Kona Coffee Cupping Judge Miguel Meza. “There’s a variety of altitudes and practices that all lead to very different possibilities of taste.”

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It was up to the internationally-recognized panel of cupping judges to cup and taste their way through the entries looking for the best flavor profile known here as “Kona characteristics.” These Kona coffee characteristics can be complex but are judged on: aroma, body, flavor, acidity, sweetness and aftertaste. Like the vineyards of France and Napa, every Kona coffee farm has a faintly distinctive taste because of its terroir and a unique personality profile carefully cultivated by the farm’s owner.

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Nearly 70% of Hawaii’s coffee is grown on Kamehameha Schools lands, and officials congratulated the competitors and winners.

“We’re honored to co-sponsor the Cupping Competition with the Ueshima Coffee Company, as the event promotes Hawaiʻi’s coffee industry and the many small farming operations on Kamehameha’s lands,” said Jamee Miller, Kamehameha Schools West Hawaiʻi Director of Education Initiatives.  “This event brings together the best tasting coffees of Hawaiʻi into one place and allows communities, supporting organizations, and families to engage and enjoy.”

Kona Coffee Cupping Hall of Fame

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Kona Crown Division Winners
2014 Hawaiian Queen Coffee
2013 Hawaiian Queen Coffee
2012 Arianna Farms Ono Kona Coffee
2011 Arianna Farms Ono Kona Coffee
2009 Kona Coffee & Tea Company
2008 Kowali Farms
2007 Arianna Farms Ono Kona Coffee

Kona Classic Division Winners
2014 Hula Daddy Kona Coffee
2013 Mountain Thunder
2012 Kona RainForest Farm
2011 Kainaliu Kona Coffee Company*
2010 Buddha’s Cup*
2009 Wolf Farms*
2008 Hoshide Farms
2007 Kona Old Style/Kuaiwi Farm
2006 Pearl Estate Organics
2005 Rancho Aloha
2004 Lafayette Coffee
2003 Kona Coffee & Tea Company
2002 Koa Coffee Plantation
2001 Wood Captain Cook Estate
2000 The Other Farm*

1999 Dragon Roast Coffee
1998 Brockston Gate Estate*
1997 Terry Fitzgerald Estate*
1996 Keokea Kona Farm*
1995 Kona Kulana Farms*
1994 Perry Estate Farms
1993 Keopu Mauka Lani Plantation
1992 Kona Kulana Farms*
1991 Wailapa Farms*
1990 Island Girl Coffee
1989 Wailapa Farms*
1988 Faye Takashiba*
1987 Tojiro Motoki

*Kona coffee farms on Kamehameha Schools lands.

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