Organic farm lauded for best-tasting Kona coffee
KAILUA-KONA >> Pearl Estates Organic farm was honored yesterday for the year's best-tasting coffee in the annual top cupping competition for Hawaii's Kona coffee.
Pat Pearlman, owner of the certified organic farm, has been a finalist the last two years in the Gevalia Kona Coffee Cupping Competition at the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort.
More than 70 farmers submitted entries in the 20th annual competition, a signature event in the 10-day Kona Coffee Cultural Festival that gives bragging rights to one of the more than 600 farmers who grow coffee along the Kona Coast.
"I grew up in a family of gardeners, so I've always grown things," Pearlman said. "But I can't believe it. I'm just so thrilled."
The Erie, Penn., native said she farms two acres of trees herself at about a 1,900-foot elevation.
"I don't do anything special or different, but I always try to do it better and better," Pearlman said. "I just turned 60, so this has been an outstanding year for me."
Pau Hana Farms was awarded second place and Kona Cafe came in third.
The entries were narrowed down to 15 finalists in Wednesday's preliminary round of tasting by four expert cuppers.
Cupping judge John King of Harold King and Co. said this year's crop promises to be a good one, with 80 percent of the entries making for "a fantastic cup of Kona coffee."
The judges included Willy Pettersson of Gevalia Kaffe, Shunta Baba of UCC Ueshima Coffee Co. Ltd., and Sherri Johns of WholeCup Coffee Consulting LLC. They selected four top brews and conducted a final taste test before making the final choices.
"There were four that popped and two that really popped," King said. "It was really, really close between the top two."
Each farmer submitted a 50-pound sample from which five pounds were entered into the cupping competition. To be eligible, the coffee submitted must have been harvested in Kona between June 1 and Oct. 20.
The coffees were evaluated in six categories: fragrance, aroma, taste, nose, aftertaste and body.
The festival's theme this year is "Kona Coffee: Hawaii's Best" and includes events through Sunday.
Tioni Tam Sing was crowned Miss Kona Coffee last weekend and this weekend's big event is a barista competition that will seek out this year's Kona Signature Cup.
The festival started 36 years ago to promote Kona's top crop and honor the industry's pioneers.