Recently, I was visiting a Barista friend in Hawaii which is the only American state where farmers grow and sell coffee beans commercially. Hawaii has mineral rich volcanic soil that produces some of the world’s best beans. My barista friend paused to sip some freshly brewed 100% Extra Fancy Grade Kona specialty gourmet coffee before continuing. Kona coffee is harvested by hand. The family-owned farms are usually small. kona beans coffee grows on the slopes of Hualali and Mauna Loa, located in the North and South Kona Districts of the big island of Hawaii. The Kona designation applies only to the beans from these Kona Districts.
The barista stopped to welcome a couple of regular patrons. He took their orders and explained that he was telling me the story of Kona coffee and the Kona Coffee Festival. The patrons expressed interest in the topic and asked how soon the festival would take place. Not until early November and it is well worth attending, said the barista. Before we get into details about the festival, let me share with you why Kona coffee is simply fantastic,
1. The soil conditions are basically coffee perfect.
2. Add to that recipe for success the sunny mornings, regular rainfall in the afternoons, cloud cover in the mornings, not too much wind and mild nights.
3. Kona snow, as we call the coffee flowers that bloom in February and March, are followed by green berries in April and finally red berries between August and January.
4. Each tree is handpicked and yields between 20 to 30 pounds of cherries. The cherries are processed through specific steps we can discuss in the future, if you would like.
The result is this great specialty brew worth every penny I charge! Upon hearing his, everyone laughed hard and nodded that the coffee was delicious but it was expensive. Yes, the barista said, certified Kona coffee is expensive because the production is limited which makes the beans rare and in very high demand.
Okay, said one of the patrons. We agree that Kona coffee is priceless. What about this Kona Coffee Festival in early November? Should I plan a visit to the Big Island in November? In the Midwest, where I live, is cold that time of the year. A trip back to Hawaii sounds very appealing. The barista replied, November in Hawaii is also a great opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving like you have not done before. What makes the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival really fun is that it has a hometown celebration style. Visitors mix with locals and you get a sense of belonging that is very special.
Because the festival is scheduled during the berry harvesting season, the scheduled events combine activities on and off the coffee plantations. What do you mean by that?, said the Midwesterner. Let me explain, said the barista. There are “cupping” competitions for the coffee growers to see who produced the best crop for the year. There are speed-picking contests that test strategy and agility for the fastest cherry picking. For coffee fans, there are workshops about cooking with coffee, tours of coffee plantations, the history of coffee and much more. What about hula performances, barista? Oh, yeah, there are hula performances by famous Hawaiian performers singing beautiful Hawaiian melodies.