PAHALA, HAWAIʻI ISLAND—Leaders of the specialty coffee industry are traveling to the state’s largest agricultural district in early May to learn about award-winning Ka‘u coffee.
They include Po-Jung “Simon” Hsieh, founder of Soaring Phoenix Trading Company, a green bean coffee importer; and Jim Munson, president of Brooklyn Roasting Company, a wholesale and retail roastery “committed to superb and socially responsible coffee.”
The notable coffee experts are participating in Ka‘u coffee’s annual reverse trade mission as part of the fifth Ka‘u Coffee Festival May 4-5 at the Pahala Community Center. They will learn first-hand about Ka‘u coffee during Saturday festival activities, including guided tastings and farm tours. On Sunday, the men will give guest lectures to local coffee farmers at the Ka‘u Coffee College.
This is the festival’s third reverse trade mission. Other coffee specialty experts who have traveled to Ka‘u to learn about its special brew include coffee guru George Howell of Terroir Coffee, Skip Fay of Dunn Bros Coffee, James Freeman of Blue Bottle Coffee, Anthony Carroll of Starbucks and Jeff Taylor of PT’s Coffee Roasting Company.
In addition to importing coffee, Hsieh is one of Taiwan’s most accomplished specialty roasters. “Coffee Review” published 18 reviews of his coffees that scored 90 points or higher. He offers professional training in hand-pour and siphon brewing, as well as roasting, plus serves as a quality control advisor for Taiwanese coffee farmers. Hsieh is the author of “Coffee Extraction: All About Brewing.”
Munson is president of Brooklyn Roasting Company; the international brand has cafes in the U.S. and Japan. Munson has served on the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Conference Committee and the National Coffee Associations Information and Education Committee, plus is the former chairman of the New York chapter of the American Institute of Wine and Food. Before launching his coffee career at Dallis Bros. Coffee, Munson worked as a GM/partner at The Brooklyn Brewery.
“We’re pleased and proud that notable industry leaders come to Ka‘u to share in our community,” says Chris Manfredi who serves as lead festival organizer. “This strategic initiative to create collaborative relationships benefits Ka‘u growers and moves us another step forward on the path toward establishing Ka‘u as a premium coffee growing origin.”
All coffee-industry related activities at the Ka‘u Coffee Festival are open to the general public; some require a fee. The April 26-May 5 festival has expanded to include three new activities: The Ka‘u Mountain Water System Hike on May 1, Coffee & Cattle Day on May 3 and Ka‘u Star Gazing on May 3. Other fun includes the Miss Ka’u Coffee Pageant on April 26, the Simply Elegant: the Ka‘u Farmers Table on April 27 and the Triple C Recipe Contest on April 28. Details on these events can be found at www.KauCoffeeFest.com.
Java-jumping festival fun culminates the weekend of May 4-5 at the Pahala Community Center. On Saturday, enjoy the Ka‘u Coffee Festival Ho‘olaule‘a, with a full day of music, hula, food, local crafts, coffee tastings and farm tours. Festival entry is free; Ka‘u Coffee Experience coffee tasting is $5; farm tours are $20. On Sunday, learn about the coffee industry at the annual Ka’u Coffee College. Admission is free, donations appreciated. Call 808-929-9550 or visit www.KauCoffeeFest.com.
Ka‘u Coffee Festival
Founded in a coffee tradition hailing to the 1800s—plus the hard work of sugar employees who lost their jobs in 1996—Ka‘u coffee burst onto the specialty coffee scene by winning numerous 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. Serving as an economic stimulus for the rural Ka‘u region, the festival is supported by the County of Hawai‘i Department of Research & Development, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture. For more information and festival updates, visit www.KauCoffeeFest.com, follow the Ka‘u Coffee Festival on Facebook and Twitter or call 808-929-9550.