If you’re on the Big Island of Hawaii in a future November, you might want to attend the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival and its Gevalia Kona Coffee Cupping Competition. Held this week, in this year’s event, sixty coffees from sixty farms were tasted and the top sixteen finalists were ranked. Karin Stanton reported for Hawaii24/7.com that despite the challenges of a drought and the attempts of the coffee berry borer beetle, the coffees tested better than the average Kona coffee from past years. In the competition, judges who possess sophisticated palates evaluate the coffees on fragrance, aroma, taste, nose, aftertaste and body.
The coffees are blind-tasted and their numbers change between the different levels of the competition so the judges have no idea which coffees are which. They usually can spot the defective entries right away and weed them out. Both the drought and the appearance of the borer beetle had been a concern during the growing season, so it was a relief that neither had a noticeable effect on quality of the coffee. One judge even stated that the drought might have been a help. The borer beetle damages the crop by eating the cherry beans through to the pit. First discovered on the Big Island in September of this year, it was clear that this wasn’t their first year to enjoy the fruits of the Hawaiian coffee farmer’s labor. That they didn’t make a dent in this year’s quality shows that the crop this year was especially plentiful.
The award earned by this two-day competition is considered one of the most prestigious. Besides the cupping competition, the festival features a website and label competition and an art exhibit. With cold rainy weather affecting many areas of the mainland US in November, the attraction of the cupping competition and the beauty and warmth of Hawaii create a tempting vacation attraction.