WAIKOLOA, Hawaii – For the third time, a Grand Champion of Hawaiian Coffee has been crowned by the The Hawaii Coffee Association, and for the second time in two years, that champion is Rusty’s Hawaiian 100% Ka’u Coffee.
Rusty’s finished top in the cupping competition held during the 16th Annual Conference and Trade Show at the Hilton WaikoloaVillage. The HCA joined with Coffee Fest, a national coffee industry trade show, to co-host the three-day event.
58 premium Hawaiian coffees from eight districts were judged by a panel of six coffee industry professionals in a blind tasting.
According to a Hawaii Coffee Association press release:
Lorie Obra of Rusty’s Hawaiian accepted the coveted HCA award presented by witty commentator and keynote speaker Howard Dicus. Lorie passionately expressed simultaneous joy and sorrow adding that she was emotionally torn between sadness and elation because her late husband and farm namesake, Rusty, could not share the award while expressing joy over realizing his dream. “This is for my late husband, our farm, the Ka’u district, the HCA and all Hawaii coffees from across the state,” Obra said.
The expanded cupping panel included Shawn Hamilton of Java City Roasters, Warren Muller of Inter American Coffee, Paul Thornton of Coffee Bean International, Lindsey Bolger of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Jay Isaisand Jesse Martinez of Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Four of the six are licensed coffee graders. None are based in Hawaii to help ensure impartiality. “The cup quality and diversity has improved every year,” said chief judge Hamilton. “We’re experiencing flavors that would never have been associated with Hawaiian coffee in years past. Everyone is upping their game.”
The other winners of this year’s cupping contest:
1. Hawaii White Mountain LLC
1. Hilo Coffee Mill
2. Makana Gardens
3. Manny’s Brew Coffee Co
1. Moloa’a Bay Coffee
2. Kauai Coffee Company
1. Rusty’s Hawaiian
2. JN Coffee Farm
3. Ali`i Hawaiian Hula Hands Coffee
1. Greenwell Farms
2. Hawaiian Queen Coffee
3. Arianna Farms `Ono Kona Coffee
1. Shim Coffee & Protea Farm
2. Keokea Farms
3. Punawai Farms
1. Coffees of Hawaii
1. Waialua Estate Coffee
2. Pavaraga – HARC
The Hawaii Coffee Association’s mission is to represent all sectors of the Hawaii coffee industry, including growers, millers, wholesalers, roasters and retailers. Perhaps it is that mission that has lead to what coffee consultant Andrew Hetzel called a “highly disappointing” departure from last year’s competition. The HCA has apparently decided to not publish a list of point scores or ranking of the top 10 coffees statewide, Hetzel points out, opting instead to name the top three farms in every growing district.
“Bowing to fragile egos and political pressure to not disclose fairly and objectively collected quality ranking data undermines the core value of competition and discredits those who excel,” Hetzel wrote on his coffeestrategies.com website and in this special article to Hawaii247.com. “Most egregiously, the association announced at its award ceremony that every farm submitting a sample will receive a certificate imprinted with only the positive cupping characteristics of their coffee — criticism and constructive comments would arrive separately in a private letter. In a contest where everyone is a winner, what is the incentive to improve?”
The debate is perhaps an indication that the quality of coffee – and competition – is ramping up here in the Hawaiian Islands.
The HCA’s primary objective is to increase awareness and consumption of Hawaiian coffees. A major component of HCA’s work is the continuing education of members and consumers. This annual conference has continued to grow each year and has gained increased international attention.
For more information visit Hawaii Coffee Association’s website at www.hawaiicoffeeassociation.com