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Kona Earth is a cupping finalist!
17 November 2008

Ribbon 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.

Judges 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 finalist?!

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 rights.

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 grab.

Princess 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.


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