Showcasing all that makes the rural District of Ka’u so special, the Ka‘u Coffee Festival perks with activities for all ages April 24-May 3. Now in its seventh year, the festival not only showcases Ka‘u’s multi, award-winning coffees at numerous events, but also features stargazing, a rainforest hike and much more.
Kau Mountain Water System. Photo by Jesse Tunison
“We’ve got something for everyone to enjoy over 10 days,” says Chris Manfredi, festival organizer. “While all of last year’s great events return to the festival, we’re always trying to exceed the expectations of our guests. When you have a vibrant community producing some of the finest coffee grown anywhere, my job is actually pretty easy. We’ve added a second mauka hike to keep up with popular demand.”
One popular reprise is the tasty recipe contest using Ka’u coffee as an ingredient. The Ka’u Coffee Recipe Contest offers friendly competition in pupu, entrée and dessert categories Saturday, April 25 at the Ka’u Coffee Mill. During the 2 p.m. judging, enjoy free entertainment, coffee and recipe sampling. Contest entry is free and the deadline is April 19. Visit www.kaucoffeefestival.com.
The Pahala Community Center is the new venue for the annual Miss K‘au Coffee Pageant where doors open at 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 26. Contestants aged 17-24 are judged in talent and gown categories and win prizes and local fame, according to pageant chair Gloria Camba. Participants also vie for Most Photogenic, Miss Congeniality and Miss Popularity. Admission is $10 with additional donations appreciated; door prizes will be awarded.
The highlight of the 10-day activity lineup is the free Ka’u Coffee Festival Ho‘olaule‘a on Saturday, May 2 that sprawls both inside and out of the Pahala Community Center. New this year, admission into the tasty Ka‘u Coffee Experience is free and coffee enthusiasts can sample professional barista-guided tastings of Ka‘u coffees prepared a variety of ways—like a pour-over. French press or cold brew—9:30 a.m.-noon and 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
Outside, ho‘olaue‘a attendees can talk story with friendly coffee farmers at gaily decorated booths with free sampling. Also on tap are “broke da mouth” food booths serving hot plate lunches, fresh baked goods and ethnic, local-style treats by local community organizations. Enjoy lunch in the outdoor pavilion or grassy lawn while treated to non-stop, local entertainment. Keiki can enjoy outdoor games.
Find out how coffee is grown, picked and processed during informative Ka’u Coffee Farm & Mill Tours. Sign up at the ho‘olaule‘a for the informative $20 tours, complete with shuttle transport, departing 9:30 and 11 a.m., plus 12:30, 2 and 3:30 p.m.
Enter the Buy Local It Matters promotion by visiting festival sponsors and redeeming purchase receipts and business cards at the ho‘olaule‘a for chances to win exciting prizes.
The festival is supported by the County of Hawai‘i Department of Research & Development, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture. Most events are free while others require a nominal fee. A full schedule of events and Ka‘u activity recommendations follows. Visit www.kaucoffeefest.com to learn more.
On Friday, April 24, 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Pa‘ina & Open House at historic Pahala Plantation House featuring music, hula, food and house tours. Corner of Maile and Pikake in Pahala. Hosted by Pahala Plantation Cottages, Ka‘u Chamber of Commerce and The Ka‘u Calendar newspaper. Free, donations accepted for Miss Ka‘u Coffee Scholarship Fund. www.kaucoffeefest.com, www.pahalaplantationcottages.com. 808-928-9811.
On Saturday, April 25, 2 p.m. The free Ka‘u Coffee Recipe Contest hosts a cooking competition at Ka‘u Coffee Mill. Entries made with Ka’u coffee are accepted in pupu, entree and dessert categories. Free coffee tasting. Find contest entry info at www.kaucoffeemill.com or call Lisa at 808-928-0550.
On Sunday, April 26, the annual Miss Ka‘u Coffee Pageant showcases the crowning of Miss Ka‘u Coffee and Miss Ka‘u Peaberry. Doors open 6 p.m. at the Pahala Community Center. Visit www.KauCoffeeFest.com.
During the week visit Ka‘u coffee farms. Enjoy the scenic and historic beauty of Ka‘u, Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach, Honu‘apo fishponds, the cliffs of Ka Lae – the southernmost place in the U.S., and the nearby Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Stay in one of the many accommodations in Ka‘u. Visit www.kaucoffeefest.com for participating coffee farms and accommodations.
On Wednesday, April 29 and Thursday, April 30 explore flume systems of the sugarcane era and development of hydroelectric power on a Ka‘u Mountain Water System Hike in the Wood Valley rainforest 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Limited to 30, $40 includes lunch. Visit www.kaucoffeemill.com or phone 808-928-0550.
On Friday, May 1 enjoy Coffee & Cattle Day 10 a.m. at Aikane Plantation Coffee farm. Find out how descendants of Ka‘u’s first coffee farmer integrate coffee with other agriculture. $25 fee includes an all-you can eat buffet. Visit www.aikaneplantation.com or phone 808-927-2252.
On Friday, May 1 observe the heavens from the summit of Makanau at Ka‘u Star Gazing, 5:30-10 p.m. $35 with refreshments and shuttle transportation. Sign up at www.kaucoffeemill.com or call 808-928-0550.
On Saturday, May 2 tantalize your taste buds at the friendly Ka‘u Coffee Festival Ho‘olaule‘a, with a full day of local music, hula, food booths, local crafts, keiki activities, educational displays, coffee tastings and farm/mill tours headquartered inside and out of the Pahala Community Center. Festival entry is free; Ka‘u Coffee Experience offers guided coffee tastings 9:30 a.m.-noon and 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Farm tours with shuttle transport are 9:30 and 11 a.m., plus 12:30, 2 and 3:30 p.m., $20. Call 808-929-9550 or visit www.KauCoffeeFest.com.
On Sunday, May 3 learn about the coffee industry at the Ka‘u Coffee College at Pahala Community Center. The Coffee College hosts educational seminars and a reverse trade mission. Free, donations appreciated. Call 808-929-9550 or www.KauCoffeeFest.com.
Ka‘u Coffee Festival: Founded in coffee traditions hailing to the 1800s—plus the hard work of former sugar plantation workers—Ka‘u coffee burst onto the specialty coffee scene by winning numerous coffee quality awards. These accolades highlight the unique combination of people and place that makes Ka‘u coffee a favorite across the globe. The festival’s mission is to raise awareness of Ka‘u as a world-class, coffee-growing origin.
Ka‘u Coffee Festival vendor and sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information and festival updates, visit kaucoffeefest.com, follow Ka‘u Coffee Festival on Facebook and @kaucoffeefest on Twitter, or call 808-929-9550.
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