Kona Coffee Cupping Competition names winners

  • Judge Jacqueline Suiter slurps her way through blind samples at the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival Cupping Competition Finals Nov. 15 at Makaeo Pavilion. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • Judges sniff the aroma samples at the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival Cupping Competition Finals Nov. 15 at Makaeo Pavilion. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

Monarch Coffee won the coveted Kona Coffee Cupping Competition in the Kona Classic division and Kona Coffee &Tea captured the win in the Kona Crown Competition Division during the 48th Annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival.

There were two competitive divisions for farms: Kona Classic entries for single estate farms and the Kona Crown division for larger farms and professional processing mills.


Both divisions share common rules for entering the competition.

All coffee entered must be 100 percent Kona coffee, grown solely in the district of Kona. State law requires that any coffee labeled as Kona coffee must be of grade prime or better. Submissions were marked with an anonymous number for a true blind taste competition.

At the helm of this year’s Kona Coffee Cupping Competition were Brian Webb and Brit Horn of Pacific Coffee Research, a certified Specialty Coffee Association training campus in South Kona.

Their state-of-the-art cupping laboratory, with its consistent and controlled environment crucial for formally evaluating coffee, served as the venue for the panel of judges as they graded 55 farm entries.

After three days of marathon tasting sessions, winners of the prestigious competition were crowned.

“We were so pleased with the quality of the entries that hit our cupping tables this year,” said cupping organizer Horn.

“The high quality really shows the dedication and care Kona farmers are taking with their processing methods and that’s exciting to us.”

Monarch Coffee is located in Holualoa. Greg and Susy Stille settled in on the farm and discovered that the area is home to Monarch butterflies — and that’s how they landed on a name. Monarch Coffee establish the farm using sustainable practices and are very proud to be practicing sustainable farming methods. For more information visit www.monarchcoffee.com.

Grown on a single-estate in Holualoa, Kona Coffee &Tea company is family owned and operated by the Bolton family. It was started by Dan and Jan Bolton by planting 20 acres of Kona coffee on old cattle ranch land called Waiono Meadows, located on the Kona Coffee Belt, in Holualoa. Today those first 20 acres have grown to over 200, the coffee has won numerous awards, and is enjoyed by fans around the world. Their daughter Malia and son Danny now handle the day-to-day operations. Visit www.konacoffeeandtea.com for additional information.

“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.”


The award-winning Kona Coffee Cultural Festival is recognized as the oldest and one of the most successful food festivals in Hawaii.

The 2018 Festival includes 10 days of events that promote Hawaii’s unique culture and diversity and supports the Festival’s mission to preserve, perpetuate and promote Kona’s unique coffee heritage.

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