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Kona Coffee Cultural Festival


Kona coffee growers wait all year in anticipation of this annual event.  Bragging rights and the prestige of winning the cupping contest is a big deal.  While years ago, there was a handful of Kona coffee brands, notably Lion and  Royal, today there are dozens of private label brands being offered and the competition is thick.

Kona coffee has a world-wide reputation for being rich and smooth, without the bitter aftertaste often associated with other brands.  Hawaii’s first coffee plantation was started on Kauai, but like other plantings, it suffered from a bug infestation.  Meanwhile, the coffee trees took hold in Kona and it has been grown successfully there for over 100 years.

The average coffee farm is family owned and approximately 5 acres in size.  And, just as Vidalia onions must be grown within the small geographic area in Georgia to be labeled such and Maui onions must be grown in a very small geographic area on the slopes of Haleakala,  Kona coffee must be grown within a narrow band on the hills of Kailua-Kona to be labeled as Kona coffee.

The 41st Kona Coffee Cultural Festival is being held from Friday, November 4th thru the Sunday, the 13th.  The activities range from the Sugai Kona Coffee Talent Night kicking things off with this karaoke-style entertainment Friday evening to the coffee cupping competition held on Wednesday and Thursday mornings (9:00 am – 2:00 pm, both days), at the Keauhou Beach Resort.

In addition, UCC Hawaii Kona Coffee Picking Contest held Sunday (Nov. 5th) morning…and if you’ve never picked coffee, trust me, its back-breaking, neck-aching work.  In the afternoon, head over to the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort and Spa for the Kona coffee recipe contest.  The best part is that public tasting of the entrees follows the awards presentation at 2:00 pm.  And the price of admission?   The $3 Festival button, which is required for most of these activities and is available at most locations.

You can view the entire week’s schedule here.

So, if you don’t have plans and are going to be in Kailua-Kona during the 2nd week of November, make sure to check it out.  Besides, the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival probably represents the best bargain $3 can buy these days, especially in Hawaii!


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