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Kona Coffee Cultural Festival

Submitted by on June 1, 2011 – 12:43 amOne Comment

The focus may be on the coffee, but the 41st annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival in Hawaii celebrates the culinary history and more. This year’s edition is November 4 through 13, 2011, in the Kona district of the “Big Island”.

There are some 40 special events during the 10-day schedule, including a coffee picking contest (open to visitors, residents and veteran Kona coffee pickers alike), a recipe contest, Kona coffee tastings, a Kona coffee cupping competition, farm tours, cultural workshops, art exhibits and more. Meet Kona coffee farmers and ‘talk story’ while sampling estate brews and specialty food items at the boutique art galleries participating in the Holualoa Village Kona Coffee Tasting & Art Stroll.

The first coffee was planted in Kona by missionary Samuel Ruggles in 1828 or 1829. These first arabica trees were taken from cuttings planted on Oahu a few years earlier. The first written mention of coffee in Kona was noted in 1840. Coffee was planted in several locations around the Big Island but was best suited to the Kona district.

The story of coffee illustrates the settlement history of Hawaii. Native Hawaiians and Chinese laborers first worked the large coffee plantations owned by Caucasians in the mid- to late-1800s. During the 1880s and early 1890s, Japanese immigrants began their coffee legacy in these same Kona fields.

When the world coffee market crashed in 1899, the large plantations shifted to small Japanese-owned family farms. As the plantations gave up, land was divided into small three- to five-acre parcels and leased to the laborers. The cost of these early leases were one-half the crop, and by 1910, only Japanese coffee farms survived. The first Filipinos arrived to work the coffee farms about 1920, picking coffee during the season and returning to the sugar fields in the spring.

Today, coffee is an economic mainstay of Kona, and many Kona farmers can lay claim to being fifth generation coffee farmers.

(Photo courtesy of Kona Coffee Cultural Festival)

One response to “Kona Coffee Cultural Festival”

  1. Coffee Beans says:

    Kona is by far the best coffee in the world! It is suiting that is has its own festival! As a micro roaster I seek out the best green coffees in the world and have never had a bad bag of Kona! Keep it up! — Tony DiCorpo

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