Coffee aficionados will want to check out the 10-day Ka‘u Coffee Festival taking place on May 13-22. The eighth annual event headlines award-winning Ka‘u coffee with a host of activities plus tasty culinary fun—including the new Ka’u Coffee Lobsterpalooza. In addition, enjoy an informative hike that explores historic water flume systems and stargazing from a culturally important mountaintop.
Supported in part by the County of Hawai‘i Department of Research & Development, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture, the Ka‘u Coffee Festival is designed to celebrate Ka’u as a premium coffee growing origin and a unique visitor destination. Many events are free, while others require a nominal fee and reservations. All activities feature the exceptional flavor and aroma of Ka‘u coffee and the people and place that produces it. Here’s a full run down of this year’s events taking place during the festival:
On Friday, May 13 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Pa‘ina & Open House at historic Pahala Plantation House featuring music, hula, food and house tours. Corner of Maile and Pikake in Pahala. Hosted by Pahala Plantation Cottages, Ka‘u Chamber of Commerce and The Ka‘u Calendar newspaper. Free, donations accepted for Miss Ka‘u Coffee Scholarship Fund. www.kaucoffeefest.com, www.pahalaplantationcottages.com. 808-928-9811.
On Saturday, May 14, 2 p.m. The free Ka‘u Coffee Recipe Contest hosts a cooking competition at Ka‘u Coffee Mill. Entries are accepted in pupu, entree and dessert categories. All recipes are made with Ka‘u coffee. Free coffee tasting and meet Miss Ka‘u Coffee. Find contest entry info at www.kaucoffeemill.com or call Lisa at 808-928-0550.
On Saturday, May 14, the annual Miss Ka‘u Coffee Pageant showcases the crowning of 2016 Miss Ka‘u Coffee and her court. 6 p.m. at the Ka’u Coffee Mill. $10 admission. Contact 808-928-0606 or .
On Sunday, May 15, 2-6 p.m. the new Ka’u Coffee Festival Lobsterpalooza at Punalu’u Black Sand Beach is presented in concert with Hana Hou Restaurant and ‘O Ka‘u Kakou. Featuring choice of surf or turf menu and live entertainment. Tickets $75 in advance. Visit kaucoffeefestival.com/events for menu details and ticket info.
During the week visit Ka‘u coffee farms. Enjoy the scenic and historic beauty of Ka‘u, Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach, Honu‘apo fishponds, the cliffs of Ka Lae—the southernmost place in the U.S.—and the nearby Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Visit www.kaucoffeefest.com for participating coffee farms and accommodations.
On Wednesday, May 18 and Thursday, May 19 explore historic flume systems of the sugarcane era and development of hydroelectric power on a Ka‘u Mountain Water System Hike in the Wood Valley rainforest 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Limited to 30, $40 includes lunch. Visit www.kaucoffeemill.com or phone 808-928-0550.
On Friday, May 20 “cowboy up” at Coffee & Cattle Day 10 a.m. at Aikane Plantation Coffee farm. Find out how descendants of Ka‘u’s first coffee farmer integrate coffee with other agriculture. The $25 fee includes an all-you can eat buffet. Visit www.aikaneplantation.com or phone 808-927-2252.
On Friday, May 20 observe the heavens from the summit of Makanau at Ka‘u Star Gazing, 5:30-10 p.m. $35 with refreshments and shuttle transportation departing from Ka‘u Coffee Mill. Sign up at www.kaucoffeemill.com or call 808-928-0550.
On Saturday, May 21 9 a.m.-5 p.m. the festival culminates with the Ka‘u Coffee Festival Ho‘olaule‘a—a full day of live music, hula, food booths, local crafts, keiki activities, educational displays, coffee tastings and farm/mill tours headquartered inside and out of the Pahala Community Center. It’s a great place to “talk story” with Ka’u coffee growers. Festival entry is free. Ka‘u Coffee Experience offers Ka‘u coffees prepared using a variety of methods by professionals from 9:30 a.m.-noon and 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Farm tours with shuttle transport are 9:30 and 11 a.m., plus 12:30, 2 and 3:30 p.m., $20. Call 808-929-9550 or visit www.kaucoffeefest.com.
On Sunday, May 22 learn about the coffee industry during presentations by visiting coffee experts at the Ka‘u Coffee College at Pahala Community Center. The Coffee College hosts educational seminars and a reverse trade mission. Free, donations appreciated. Call 808-929-9550 or www.KauCoffeeFest.com.
Founded in coffee traditions hailing to the 1800s—plus the more recent hard work of former sugar plantation workers—Ka‘u coffee burst onto the specialty coffee scene by winning numerous coffee quality 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.