Kona Coffee Cupping Competition Winners Named

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Farm tours and lectures will be held throughout the festival. Image courtesy.

Farm tours and lectures will be held throughout the festival. Image courtesy.

Winners of the prestigious Kona Coffee Cupping Competition were selected from 62 judged entries during the 46th Annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, held from Nov. 4 to 13, 2016.

Hula Daddy Kona Coffee won the coveted Kona Coffee Cupping Competition in the Classic Division for single estate farms and Kona Gold Rum Coffee Company LLC captured its first win in the Kona Crown Competition Division.

Two competitive divisions, Kona Classic and Kona Crown, separate single-estate and larger farms. Kona Classic entries are single-estate farms and the Kona Crown Division is set aside for larger farms and professional processing mills including known brands sold to Kona coffee aficionados around the world. Yet, both divisions share common rules for entering the Kona Coffee Cupping Competition.

All coffee entered must be 100% Kona coffee, grown solely in the Kona District on the Island of Hawai‘i. State of Hawai‘i law requires that any coffee labeled as Kona coffee must be of grade Prime or better. Contestants may either enter the Crown or the Classic competition, but not both. All submissions are marked with an anonymous number for a true blind taste competition.

The prestigious two-day Kona Coffee Cupping Competition hosted an internationally recognized panel of cupping judges who evaluated 62 single estate farms and larger farm coffee entries. In a blind tasting, judges Aaron Shank, Hawaii Coffee Company; Thomas Keisling, Honolulu Coffee Company; and Hideki Miki, UCC Hawaii sniffed, slurped and taste tested their way through all the entries looking for the best flavor profile known here as Kona characteristics.


By Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 9, the judges had narrowed the field of entries but it was not without excitement. A final eight entry cup-off was called for by the head judge. Scores were then tabulated and the list of semifinalists advanced the top 15 Classic Division finalists and top eight in the Crown Division to Thursday’s finals.

In all, 10 Kona coffee estate farms and five larger farms were awarded. Kona Coffee Council President Roger Kaiwi presented the finalists with ribbons and awards later that evening over dinner.

“This year we have more variety with some of the taste profiles we are experiencing,” said Kona Coffee Cupping Judge Miguel Meza. “It’s been pretty exciting especially for some of the judges who don’t get to cup a lot of Kona coffees all the time. They are surprised by the diversity of taste that they get here in Kona. There’s a variety of altitudes and practices that all lead to very different possibilities of taste.”

Hula Daddy Kona Coffee – Kona Coffee Cupping Competition Classic Division Winner
Located in Holualoa, this Kona coffee farm has planted 31-plus acres with over 17,000 trees, and harvests and processes its own estate coffee. According to its website, Hula Daddy Kona Coffee uses small batch roasting, ensuring each pound of 100% Kona coffee is freshly roasted.

Kona Gold Rum Coffee Company, LLC – Kona Crown Competition Division Winner
Family-owned and -operated, Kona Gold Rum Coffee Company was established in 2002. With an expertise of growing coffee, this farm group grows over 100 acres of high elevation 100% Kona coffee under five labels.


“Congratulations to the winners of this year’s competition,” said Valerie Corcoran, Kona Coffee Cultural Festival president. “Every year, the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival looks forward to this important event that really helps Kona carry forward the legacy and culture behind our cup of famous brew. Our coffee harvest is as unique as the many hands that grow it, and we are so proud to lead the harvest celebration.”

Kona Coffee Council produces the prestigious Kona Coffee Cultural Festival Cupping Competition sponsored by UCC Ueshima Coffee Co. and Kamehameha Schools.

Kona Coffee Cupping Hall of Fame

Kona Classic Division Winners
2016 Hula Daddy Kona Coffee
2015 Aikane Kona Coffee
2014 Hula Daddy Kona Coffee
2013 Mountain Thunder
2012 Kona RainForest Farm
2011 Kainaliu Kona Coffee Company
2010 Buddha’s Cup
2009 Wolf Farms
2008 Hoshide Farms
2007 Kona Old Style/Kuaiwi Farm
2006 Pearl Estate Organics
2005 Rancho Aloha
2004 Lafayette Coffee
2003 Kona Coffee & Tea Company
2002 Koa Coffee Plantation
2001 Wood Captain Cook Estate
2000 The Other Farm
1999 Dragon Roast Coffee
1998 Brockston Gate Estate
1997 Terry Fitzgerald Estate
1996 Keokea Kona Farm
1995 Kona Kulana Farms
1994 Perry Estate Farms
1993 Keopu Mauka Lani Plantation
1992 Kona Kulana Farms
1991 Wailapa Farms
1990 Island Girl Coffee
1989 Wailapa Farms
1988 Faye Takashiba
1987 Tojiro Motoki

Kona Crown Division Winners


2016 Kona Gold Rum Coffee Company, LLC
2015 Arianna Farms Ono Kona Coffee
2014 Hawaiian Queen Coffee
2013 Hawaiian Queen Coffee
2012 Arianna Farms Ono Kona Coffee
2011 Arianna Farms Ono Kona Coffee
2009 Kona Coffee & Tea Company
2008 Kowali Farms
2007 Arianna Farms Ono Kona Coffee

For a complete listing of 46th Annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival events or for more information visit

The award-winning Kona Coffee Cultural Festival is recognized as the oldest and one of the most successful food festivals in Hawai‘i. The 2016 Festival includes 10 days of events that promote Hawai‘i’s unique culture and diversity and supports the festival’s mission to preserve, perpetuate and promote Kona’s unique coffee heritage.

The Kona Coffee Cultural Festival is supported as a Signature Event of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and is made possible through the support of UCC Ueshima Coffee Co. Ltd., Kamehameha Schools, Alaska Airlines, Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union, Kawakami Family of Captain Cook Fund of the Hawaii Community Foundation, KTA Super Stores and numerous other corporate and community donors.

UCC directly manages coffee estates in Jamaica and Hawai‘i and is actively involved in coffee making from planting saplings on through to harvesting the beans.

Managing a coffee estate is not without its risks: the uncertainty of nature, the challenges of maintaining fertile soil and caring for crops and more.

However, UCC founder Tadao Ueshima was committed to developing quality coffee by hand and delivering the genuine article to customers. With the operation of these estates, Tadao’s vision lives on. From the careful planting of each sapling to the harvest of the final beans, deploying the latest technologies where necessary, we develop the finest quality coffee beans that remain true to the ethos of Tadao.

46th Annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival

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