Kau Coffee Festival celebrates small growers

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KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) — The ongoing Kau Coffee Festival is celebrating the success of small growers who have begun producing world-class coffees.

The sixth-annual festival includes farm and mill tours, stargazing, rain forest hikes and a recipe contest, West Hawaii Today reported (http://bit.ly/RsZpGT ). A hoolaulea Saturday at the Pahala Community Center will feature coffees prepared by master baristas and a chance to meet Miss Kau Coffee and her court. Coffee experts will convene Sunday to lead education discussions.

The 10 days of festivities are meant to showcase the region as a coffee hotspot and as a vacation destination.

About 40 growers, including many former sugarcane workers, maintain orchards on this section of Hawaii Island. They earned the past three coffee-of-the-year awards given by the Specialty Coffee Association of America, from 2010 to 2012. Some growers are concerned about their leases with the pending sale of 5,800 acres that include the Moaula coffee lands.

"They've developed a world-class coffee," Jeff Melrose, who works on special projects with the Hawaii County Department of Research and Development, told the paper. "Some are washing, roasting and drying, all in their backyards. And they're selling it to people who recognize its value."

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Information from: West Hawaii Today, http://www.westhawaiitoday.com

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