When I first moved to the island in 2005, I could NOT wait for the Kona Coffee and Cultural Festival held each November. I loved the cupping competition so I could taste all the different Kona coffees presented by dozen of local farmers for judging. This year the Kona Coffee and Culture Festival is being held Nov. 1-11 with events happening almost every day. Check out the schedule!
To add an expert local voice about Kona coffee, I asked my friend, Andrea Pro, owner of both the coffee house Java on the Rock and a coffee farm that creates my favorite coffee, Three Stone. As a grower, farmer, producer and restauranteur, she has insights which provide a different view into the Coffee Festival that you’ll find valuable. For my valued readers..look on the right side column of this site and you’ll see a 20% discount for Java on the Rock so you can try Andrea’s coffee and put your feet in the sand with breakfast!
Coffee is a 365-day season here in Kona. My favorite event of coffee season is the springtime bloom of delicate waxy white blossoms that attract honeybees and scent the tropical air with jasmine. The blossoms last only for a few days before they drop, revealing the nub of the green coffee cherry. We have about 800 trees on our farm and it’s lovely to watch the trees set flower in sequence over a month-long period. After the early bird flowers there is a peak of flowering followed by a straggler bunch. We farmers are busy all year fertilizing, pruning and dealing with unwanted pests like the coffee borer beetle. Coffee will grow like a scraggly weed if it’s untended, but to produce a big crop requires high maintenance. Harvest season is a busy, crazy time for us. The coffee starts ripening in rounds based on when the first flowers showed up. We call our pickers to harvest when enough of the coffee “cherry” is red. After a picking we can usually wait a couple of weeks before the next round ripens. People either love picking coffee or hate it. Those who love it describe it as a meditation.
Kona Coffee Pricing Explained
People often wonder why there is such a huge difference in pricing of Kona coffee. Quality is the answer. Between the fertilizer, insect control, tools, equipment, and hiring pickers and other workers, coffee is expensive to produce. Our Three Stone and Mountain Harvest Kona coffees are high end and people can taste the difference. This kind of rich, full-bodied yet delicate flavor comes from dedication to a myriad of details from pruning, and picking to storage and roasting. Great coffee is like great wine. It is a prized commodity. It is costly to produce and comes at a price. Kona coffee is one of life’s most wonderful pleasures.
Tasting and Finding A Favorite
I advise people to sample a variety of coffees to understand what you like. Pay attention to the sensation in your mouth when you sip. Notice where on your tongue you feel stimulated. Notice if there is an aftertaste (typically not a good thing). A great way to sample a variety of Kona’s best coffee is at an event like the “Cream of the Crop” event held annually at the Four Seasons or the Art Stroll as part of the Coffee Festival.
15th annual Holualoa Village Coffee and Art Stroll
Join us on Saturday November 2 for the 15th annual Holualoa Village Coffee and Art Stroll. Java on the Rock will be there along with some of the best farms in Kona to show you our stuff. This is a fun festival of sipping coffee, visiting galleries and enjoying festive music.