Winners Named in 2017 Kona Coffee Cupping Competition

Judges at the 2017 Kona Coffee Cupping Competition assessed entries according to a new scoring system this year. The competition was held at Daylight Mind Coffee Company. Courtesy photo.

Three winners claimed victory in the 2017 Kona Coffee Cupping Competition. Pele Plantations won the Commercial Division; Castaway Bay Kona Coffee took the Artisanal Division’s Heritage Profile and Onila Farms captured the win in the Artisanal Division’s Modern Profile.

The winners were selected from 76 entries using a new scoring system that departed from national standards and emphasized regional characteristics specific to Kona coffee. Judges used a 10-point intensity scale to parse the subtle differences between brews in two new flavor profiles: Heritage Profile, a classic Kona Coffee profile; and Modern Profile, one that would be celebrated by modern, specialty coffee consumers. Judges rated entries according to acidity, body, coffeeness, sweetness, floral, complexity and defects.

“There’s a wide range of profiles that we are tasting this year,” said Kona Coffee Cupping Judge Andrew Hetzel. “We have more traditional coffees and we have a lot of dried, natural processed coffee that we are tasting as well, which is something that didn’t exist here in Kona five or six years ago.”

The two-day competition was held at Daylight Mind Coffee Company in Kona as part of the 47th Annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival. It was overseen by an internationally recognized panel of cupping judges that included:

  • Ian Fretheim, Café Imports, Director of Sensory Analysis
  • Madeleine Longoria-Garcia, Four Seasons Hualalai, Head Barista, Pacific Coffee Research Q Grader
  • Miguel Meza, Paradise Coffee Roasters, Director of Coffee Quality
  • Andrew Hetzel, Coffee Strategies, Coffee Policy and Market Consultant
  • Hideki Mike, Ueshima Coffee (UCC Hawai‘i) Corp., Store and Sales Manager
  • Kelleigh Stewart, Big Island Coffee Roasters and Paradise Roasters, Head Roaster and Q Grader

“Congratulations to the winners of this year’s competition,” said Valerie Corcoran, Kona Coffee Cultural Festival President. “Every year, the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival looks forward to this important event that really helps Kona carry forward the legacy and culture behind our cup of famous brew. Our coffee harvest is as unique as the many hands that grow it, and we are so proud to lead the harvest celebration.”