Kona Coffee Cupping Competition Names 2021 Winners

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The Kona Heritage Award was awarded to Aikane Kona Coffee for its quintessential Kona Coffee – defined as a clean cup exhibiting low level acidity, a medium body, medium sweetness, and free of defect. Additionally, the Heritage Award was given to an entrant whose coffee was Typica variety and washed process without any specific yeast inoculation.

All coffee entered had to be 100% Kona coffee and grown solely in the district of Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. State of Hawaii law requires that any coffee labeled as Kona coffee must be of grade Prime or better.

At the helm of this year’s Kona Coffee Cupping Competition were Brit Horn and Madeleine Longoria Garcia of Pacific Coffee Research, who assisted a panel of judges with their multi-day task of slurping, tasting and scoring each entry in multiple rounds.

The 2021 competition was intense with the top sixteen coffee entries scoring 85 points and above, yet the top ten coffees were all different from each other either in processing, variety, inoculated yeast, etc.  

“This year was a really tight competition, Geisha Kona Coffee Farm, winner of the Classic Division with a final score of 87.15, was awarded the highest score we at Pacific Coffee Research have seen in this cupping competition. This coffee entry caught the judges tasting palate with notes of strawberry, watermelon, blueberry and floral hints,” said Brittany Horn, 2021 Kona Coffee Cultural Festival Cupping Competition Chair and co-owner of Pacific Coffee Research. “These farmers who reach for high growing and processing marks really inspire and motivate us here at PCR. We appreciate the hard work and dedication.”   


Scores for the Classic and Crown division were determined using the globally accepted Specialty Coffee Association scoring system following tight protocol in a SCA/ Coffee Quality Institute certified cupping lab.

Geisha Kona Coffee Farm is a section of the property Doug McKanna owns overlooking Kealakekua Bay where he grows his Geisha at about 1,000ft, which is typically at a lower elevation for this type of coffee. McKanna processes his coffee using a Natural method, drying the coffee with the cherry skins intact. “I’ve been fortunate to work with Miguel Meza, an expert coffee judge as well as someone who really knows how to grow coffee. I’m thankful for his guidance, noted Doug McKanna. When asked about his plans after this prestigious win, Doug said he will be working “to get another point higher next year!”

2021 Kona Coffee Cupping Competition Winners

Kona Heritage Award – Aikane Kona Coffee


Crown Division – Hawaiian Queen Coffee – Typica; final score 84.81

Classic Division

1. Geisha Kona Coffee Farm – Geisha; final score 87.15

2. Hula Daddy – Bourbon Pointu Laurina; final score 86.75


3. Hala Tree Coffee – SL-28; final score 86.5

“Congratulations to the winners of this year’s competition. 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,” said Valerie Corcoran, Kona Coffee Cultural Festival President. “Our coffee harvest is as unique as the many hands that grow it, and we are so proud to lead the harvest celebration.”

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