Kona Earth is a cupping finalist!
Every year Kona spends a week celebrating Kona coffee at the annual
Kona Coffee Cultural Festival.
The week includes parades, contests, tours, a pageant, lots of displays
and, most important to local Kona coffee farmers, the
Gevalia Cupping Competition.
I'm very happy to announce that Kona Earth coffee was chosen as a finalist
in this year's cupping competition.
17 November 2008
The Gevalia cupping is a big deal and it takes place over two days. On
the first day, the panel of five judges narrowed down the 56 entries to
16 finalists, Kona Earth being one of these finalists. The next day,
the finalist coffees were cupped again and a winners were chosen. We
didn't make it to the winner's circle but did I mention that we were a
It would be great to claim first place but realistically I don't think
it's as important as some farmers seem to think. Winning gives you
bragging rights among the other farmers but it doesn't really generate
much publicity or sales. Personally, I'd prefer sales over bragging
I don't know how the judges can tell the difference between all those
excellent Kona coffees. For the first round I could maybe pick out
some of the not-quite-perfect coffees but among the finalists it's like
trying to find your favorite snowflake in a snow storm. If the whole
competition was repeated the following day, I'm not convinced that we'd
see the same results.
Some coffee farmers spend a lot of time picking and hand sorting a
small batch of coffee specifically for the cupping competition. I've
been tempted to do the same thing but I'm far too busy for that. I
almost didn't enter the contest at all this year but decided to grab
the closest bag of parchment and see what happens. There was nothing
special about the coffee I entered, all of our coffee is processed and
stored the same, the bag I entered just happened to be the easiest to
I spoke with another farmer who has tried both methods. One year he
entered a bag that had been hand sorted and another bag, from an
adjacent and nearly identical farm, that was simply grabbed off the top
of the pile. The hand sorted bag didn't make the finals while the
randomly chosen bag won.
What I like best about the Gevalia Cupping Competition is that it gives
me a good opportunity to hang out with all my fellow Kona coffee farmers
and talk shop. It's kind of like a big party with a couple ribbons
handed out at the end. Except instead of alcohol, we're all hyped
up on coffee.
I'll probably continue to enter our coffee for future competitions but
I'm not going to let myself be too concerned with the results.
Receiving a nod from the judges is nice validation but we already
receive plenty of validation from all our repeat customers. I'm
confident that our coffee is good enough that it will make first place
eventually. In the mean time, we will continue making the best
coffee we can and simply treat the Gevalia Cupping Competition like
the big party that it is.