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Wolf Farms, Kona Coffee & Tea tops at cupping competition

Christopher Kim of Hawaiian King Coffee, Mark Wolf of Wolf Farms and Miss Kona Coffee Wikolia Enos.

Christopher Kim of Hawaiian King Coffee, Mark Wolf of Wolf Farms and Miss Kona Coffee Wikolia Enos.

Story and photography by Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Contributing Editor

Kona coffee’s best brews this year belong to Wolf Farms and Kona Coffee & Tea Company.

Judges awarded the blue ribbons to Mark Wolf and Malia Bolton following the final round of tasting Thursday at the Gevalia Kona Coffee Classic Cupping Competition and the Gevalia Crown Competition.

In the classic division – which included 61 entries – second place went to Hawaiian King Coffee, owned by Christopher Kim, and Healani Farms was third.

In the crown division, Greenwell Farms and Aloha Hills Kona Coffee placed second and third, respectively.

“Overall, the quality was really pretty good this year,” said judge Sherri Johns, of WholeCup Coffee Consulting, LLC. “The scoring was tight in the fist round, but once we narrowed it down to the finalists, the first, second and third places were clear.”

Johns said farmers should be proud the quality of Kona coffee continues to rise.

“The average is getting better every year and that’s good for the whole industry,” she said. “That means whenever anyone tastes Kona coffee, they know they are getting quality.”

John King, Harold L. King & Co. judge said, “The balance and pleasing aftertaste made this Kona coffee the obvious winner. The overwhelming final fragrance was the tipping factor.”

In the classic division, farmers submit 50 pounds of this year’s harvest, from which judges sample 5 pounds

Farmer Mark Wolf, who with wife Denise, owns and operates the 4-acre Wolf Farm in Honaunau at the 1,400-foot level.

While the farm in not yet organic, Wolf said he is working toward it.

Wolf also said he was pleased to capitalize on last year’s honorable mention.

After 30 years experience farming Kona coffee, he said he has yet to identify the secret to great coffee.

“I do all the work myself and I didn’t do anything different this year,” he said. “I think it’s just being dedicated to your farm. And doing all the hard work when you are young.”

Any other advice?

“Yes,” he said, “always drink 100% Kona coffee.”

The competition is a blind tasting – each entry is accepted, it is simply assigned a number to protect its anonymity. These numbers are changed midway into the cupping, between the preliminary and final rounds, to keep the judges’ palates alert throughout the competition.

The coffee samples, both green and roasted, are placed on a long table for the judges to independently evaluate. The judges look for high marks in these six categories: fragrance, aroma, taste, nose, aftertaste and body.

Crown Competition

Larger estate farms may submit 3,000 pounds into the Crown Competition. The crown category was added in 2007 to showcase bigger roasters and processors, and award an exclusive contract with Gevalia Kaffe to buy and market their coffee.

Judges selected Kona Coffee & Tea Company as this year’s winner from 11 entries, with Greenwell Farms and Aloha Hills Kona Coffee as the runners-up.

Malia Bolton, of Kona Coffee & Tea, said she was shocked to hear her company announced as the winner. As a previous winner of the classic competition, Kona Coffee & Tea now is the first farm to win both divisions.

The farm in Waiono Meadows in Holualoa, at the 2,000-3,300-foot elevation, include 122 acres, which were planted beginning in 1998.

“We’re doing the whole process,” Bolton said, from growing and harvesting to roasting and packaging.

Tommy Greenwell, of Greenwell Farms, said he was pleased with his farm’s second place showing.

Greenwell, for the first time, entered coffee plucked from trees first tended by his grandmother.

“That’s the first time I’ve separated it out like that,” he said. “She’d like that. It’s quite good.”

This year’s judges included Gevalia’s Master Taster, Dave Holfve; Mashiro Yamamichi from Japan’s UCC Ueshima Coffee Company, Ltd.; world-renown coffee expert John King with Harold L. King & Company; and Sherri Johns, president, of WholeCup Coffee Consulting LLC.

Coffee label and Web site competition

Kona Historical Society was awarded best label in the 10th annual Keauhou Resort Kona Coffee Label & Website Competition while took the top honors in the Web site category.

A total of 137 entries competed in the two divisions in the Keauhou Resort Kona Coffee Label & Website Competition for cash prizes and awards valued at more than $3,000.

“This year the entries were over the top in the quality of artwork. Also noteworthy is that Kona coffee farmers have elevated the overall graphic quality of their product labels and Web sites. The marketing side of the industry has really raised the bar,” shared Valery O’Brien, event co-chairwoman.

Winning Kona coffee labels must promote 100% Kona coffee, use art or graphics, express the message clearly and comply with the Hawaii State label laws.

The Web sites were similarly judged, and were also required to be dedicated to the promotion of Kona coffee only, have a strong identification to Kona and provide for a simple, secure ordering process.

2009 Kona Coffee Label Winners

1st place: Kona Historical Society; Owner: Kona Historical Society; Designer: Mark Miller

2nd place: Holualoa Inn; Owner: Cassandra Hazen; Designer: Wowizowi Productions

3rd place, Tie: Luana Farms; Owner: Timothy Bruno & Karen Krielbl; Designer: Timothy Bruno & Karen Krielbl

Night Owl Kona Coffee; Owner: Sarah Fogelstrom; Designer: Elisabeth Boutelle

Sponsors’ Award: Lyman Kona Coffee Farms; Owner: Hans F. Eckert; Designer: Mark Miller

2009 Kona Coffee Website Winners

1st place:; Owner: Beverly White; Designer: Jas Marlin

2nd place:; Owner: Everett Hesia; Designer: Bill Dwyer

3rd place, Tie:; Owner: Christopher E. Kim; Designer: Andrew Nisbet; Owner: Colleen Gedeon; Designer: Colors of Hawaii Printing

Sponsors’ Award:; Owner: Sarah Nichols; Designer: Aikane Coffee

Art Awards

3-D art (Gourds, quilts)

1. Ann Guth

2. Barbara Denman

2-D art (Painting)

1. Bobbie Caputo

2. Lori Hight

People’s Choice

1. Mary Lund

2. Bobbie Caputo

3. Carol Davenpoirt

After Wednesday’s preliminary cupping rounds:

Classic Finalists:

* Aerie Farm, LLC dba “Hawaiian Hawk”

* Brocksen Gate Estate

* Hawaiian King Coffee

* Healani Farm

* Hubbard & Sons Coffee Company

* Keke Lani Estate

* Kena Coffee Farms

* Kona Lea Plantation

* Kuaiwi Farm/Kona Oldstyle

* Mahina Mele Farm

* Malia Ohana

* Moki’s Farm

* Mongoose Mountain Farm

* Pearl Estate Organics

* Wolf Farms

Crown Competition Finalists:

* Aloha Hills Kona Coffee

* Greenwell Farms

* Kowali Farm

* Kona Coffee Connection

* Kona Kulana Farms

* Kona Coffee & Tea Company


Gevalia Kona Coffee Classic Cupping Competition Winners

2009 Wolf Farms

2008 Hoshide Farms

2007 Kona Old Style/Kuaiwi Farm

2006 Pearl Estate Organics

2005 Rancho Aloha

2004 Lafayette Coffee

2003 Kona Coffee & Tea Co.

2002 Koa Coffee Plantation

2001 Wood Captain Cook Estate

2000 The Other Farm

1999 Dragon Roast Coffee

1998 Brockston Gate Estate

1997 Terry Fitzgerald Estate

1996 Keokea Kona Farm

1995 Kona Kulana Farms

1994 Perry Estate Farms

1993 Keopu Mauka Lani Plantation

1992 Kona Kulana Farms

1991 Wailapa Farms

1990 Island Girl Coffee

1989 Wailapa Farms

1988 Faye Takashiba

1987 Tojiro Motoki

Gevalia Kaffe is built on a tradition of fine craftsmanship encompassing 150 years. Gevalia carries more than 40 varieties of coffees and teas ranging from distinctive varietals, European and limited edition blends as well as seasonal flavors.

Gevalia is not sold retail and is available in the U.S. exclusively at

The Gevalia Kona Coffee Classic Cupping Competition and the Gevalia Crown Competition are signature events of the 39th annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival.

The Kona Coffee Cultural Festival is recognized and supported as a ‘Major Festival’ by Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) as the Festival showcases Hawaii’s unique culture and diversity. HTA was created in 1998 to ensure a successful visitor industry well into the future. Its mission is to strategically manage the growth of Hawaii’s visitor industry in a manner consistent with its economic goals, cultural values, preservation of natural resources and community interests.

— Find out more:

Kona Coffee Cultural Festival:

Wolf Farms: 328-8588 or

Kona Coffee & Tea Company: 329- 6577or

The 2009 judges: Mashiro Yamamichi of Japan's UCC Ueshima Coffee Company, Ltd.; Gevalia's Master Taster, Dave Holfve; John King of Harold L. King & Company; and Sherri Johns, president, of WholeCup Coffee Consulting LLC.

The 2009 judges: Mashiro Yamamichi of Japan's UCC Ueshima Coffee Company, Ltd.; Gevalia's Master Taster, Dave Holfve; John King of Harold L. King & Company; and Sherri Johns, president, of WholeCup Coffee Consulting LLC.

Additional photography courtesy of Colin Gould:






2 Responses to “Wolf Farms, Kona Coffee & Tea tops at cupping competition”

  1. You really can’t call it Kona coffee unless it is 100 percent Kona, like the article says. Anything else will not taste as good and won’t have the same quality.

  2. Congratulations to the winners. I think this article says it best “always drink 100 percent Kona Coffee”
    Don’t settle for anything less.


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