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Kaʻu Coffee Mill chief roasters Lee Segawa and Kalikoweo Keolanui-Daniele co-roasted an entry for the 2013 Specialty Coffee Association of America expo. The entry was one of two U.S. grown coffees featured in the Top 10 Roaster’s Choice awards, which is hosted by the Roaster’s Guild.
Kaʻu Coffees have won many awards over the years. A few of the most recognized awards are below.
Two Kaʻu Coffee’s, Kaʻu Coffee Mill and Rusty’s Hawaiian were named in the top ten international Roaster’s Choice awards at the 2013 Specialty Coffee Association of America expo. in Boston, MA (there was no Coffee’s of the Year competition this year).
Five Kaʻu Coffee’s placed in the top ten of the Commercial Division and three Kaʻu Coffee’s placed in the top ten of the Creative Division at the Hawai'i Coffee Assosiation’s 5th Annual Cupping Competition. Commercial Division Top Ten Winners: Leo Norberte with JN Coffee Farm (two entries of his won), Franklin Orcino with Orcino Coffee Farm, Rogelio Aquino and Gloria Camba with R&G Farm and Jose and Berta Miranda with Miranda Farms. OK Farms, an Olson Trust farm in Hilo placed 2nd in the Commercial Division. Creative Division Top Ten Winners: Lorie Obra with Rusty’s Hawaiian 100% Kaʻu Coffee, Leo Norberte with JN Coffee Farm, and Joseph Castaneda with Joe Castaneda Farm.
Three Kaʻu Coffee growers were named in the top ten in the international competition for the 2012 Specialty Coffee Association of America Roasters Guild Coffees of the Year. Will and Grace Tabios was the top U.S. winner followed by Lorie Obra and Trinidad and Francis Marques. Kaʻu Coffee Mill Natural Coffee was ranked number 10 at the Hawai'i Coffee Association competition.
At the 2011 Specialty Coffee Association of America International Cupping Competition, Bull and Jamie Kailiawas “Kailiawa Coffee” won the top award in in Hawai'i, and the United States. Their coffee was also ranked one of the top ten coffees in the world. As a result, Kaʻu was named the Number One Coffee Growing Region in the United States. Lorie Obra’s Rusty’s Hawaiian 100% Kaʻu Coffee was used by Pete Licata to win first in the 2011 Worldwide SCAA Barista Championship. At the Hawai'i Coffee Association convention Lorie Obra’s Rusty’s Hawaiian 100% Kaʻu Coffee won the top award again, with Leo and Hermie Norbertes JN Coffee closed behind in third place.
At the 2010 SCAA event, Will and Grace Tabios coffee was ranked among the top nine in the world, elevating Hawai'i to an internationally recognized coffee region. At the Hawai'i Coffee Association convention, Lorie Obra's coffee won the top award. She was also selected as top producer by the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe after a cupping session at Pahala Plantation House co-sponsored by Edmund C. Olson.
2010 was also the year that Edmund C. Olson began construction of the Kaʻu Coffee Mill with its opening scheduled for Fall. It's designed to serve all the coffee farms in the district.
In 2009, Kaʻu Coffee was featured at a gala in the famed Hay Adams Hotel across from the White House, celebrating the Inauguration of President Barack Obama. The First Kaʻu Coffee Festival was launched, a dream of the late Rusty Obra. Miss Kaʻu Coffee was crowned and candidates rode in the famed Merrie Monarch Parade in Hilo. A song was written during the 2009 Coffee Festival Music Workshop and recorded by Daniel Ho on Hei Nani. The album was nominated for a Grammy award in 2010.
In the 2009 SCAA contest, the Bull and Jamie Kailliawa family coffee took seventh in the world and second in the Pacific-Asia Division. At Hawai'i Coffee Association Competition in 2009, Gloria Camba and Rogelio Aquino's coffee took fourth place in the state and number one from the Ka`u District.
Among the independent growers who own their own land, Aikane Plantation Coffee Company has been awarded the Hawai'i State Seal of Excellence.
At the SCAA competition in 2008, Manuel Marques coffee took 11th in worldwide competition, edging out Kona coffee.
After C. Brewer sold the Moa'ula coffee lands in 2004, new owners with their subsidiary Ka`u Farm & Ranch and its land manager Chris Manfredi, helped to promote Ka`u Coffee grown by its lessees by entering into competitions sponsored by such organizations as the SCAA and the Hawai'i Coffee Association. The new landowners sponsored more education and cupping classes and Ka`u Coffee did well. At SCAA, in 2007, William Tabios took sixth in the world and Marlon Baisson took first in the Asia Pacific Division. At the SCAA competition in 2008, Manuel Marques coffee took 11th in worldwide competition, edging out Kona coffee.