Leaders of the specialty coffee industry are traveling to the state’s largest agricultural district this month to taste and see all the effort that goes into producing award-winning Ka‘u coffee during the Ka‘u Coffee Festival.
While meeting Ka‘u growers, the visiting experts lead seminars at the festival’s annual Ka‘u Coffee College May 22 at the Pahala Community Center. The Ka‘u Coffee College has proven to be a place of learning, sharing and networking—and has featured some of the industry’s leading professionals from around the globe. The 2016 program follows in this tradition with the theme, “Coffee Quality.”
“These seminars are designed to not only continue to brand and market Ka‘u as a premium coffee growing origin, but to help the growers’ bottom line,” explained event organizer Chris Manfredi. “We understand the challenges of sustaining a profitable farming operation in Hawai‘i. These talks will certainly reinforce the exceptionally high quality for which Ka‘u coffee has become famous, but also ensure there is a steady supply of it. As we reach more markets, we need a solid supply of quality coffees to meet the increasing demand while ensuring growers remain profitable.”
The Ka’u Coffee College is part of the eighth annual Ka‘u Coffee Festival, spanning May 13-22, and culminating May 21-22 at the Pahala Community Center. Coffee professionals learn first-hand about the Ka‘u coffee community in the days leading up to the May 21st ho‘olaule‘a, which includes guided tastings, farm tours and the opportunity to “talk story” with growers at their booths.
“The Ka‘u Coffee College is the last, but certainly not the least event,” adds Manfredi.
Topics covered at this year’s college include integrated pest management, CBB (coffee berry borer) and coffee quality’s impact on price.
“Six Years of Farming with CBB: Reflecting and Moving Forward” will be presented by Andrea Kawabata, assistant extension agent for coffee and orchard crops with the University of Hawai‘i CTAHR cooperative extension service and biologist Arturo Ballar Ortiz PSM, farm development and research director at Greenwell Farms. Working out of the Kona Research and Extension Center, Kawabata is the current project investigator for USDA and CTAHR Area-wide Mitigation and Management for CBB Control Project’s Outreach Program and cooperating investigator of the HDOA-funded Flat Bark Beetle Project.
Mike Perry will delve into “Coffee Quality’s Relationship to Price Sensitivity.” An award-winning roast master who blends a background in chemical engineering with a love for coffee, Perry is founder of Klatch Coffee in California.
“Falling Coffee, Falling Profits” will be discussed by Robert G. Hollingsworth, research entomologist of Hilo’s USDA-ARS-Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center and a specialist on coffee berry borer (CBB). Hollingworth’s research facilitated the deregulation of the GHA strain of Beauveria bassiana, the principal pesticide used to control CBB. Currently he is studying natural enemies of the pest, the effectiveness of sanitation methods and the influence of environmental factors on population growth and development.
Miguel Meza, owner and director of Paradise Coffee Roasters in Hawai‘i and Minnesota, teams up with Lee Paterson, owner of Hula Daddy Kona Coffee, to direct a coffee quality workshop, “Recognizing and Minimizing Coffee Defects.”
Admission to the 9 a.m.-pau Ka‘u Coffee College is free, though donations are appreciated.