About The Kaʻū Calendar

Ka`u, Hawai`i, United States
A locally owned and run community newspaper (www.kaucalendar.com) distributed in print to all Ka`u District residents of Ocean View, Na`alehu, Pahala, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Village and Miloli`i on the Big Island of Hawai`i. This blog is where you can catch up on what's happening daily with our news briefs. This blog is provided by The Ka`u Calendar Newspaper (kaucalendar.com), Pahala Plantation Cottages (pahalaplantationcottages.com), Local Productions, Inc. and the Edmund C. Olson Trust.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013

Trini and Francis Marques are two of the original Ka`u Coffee farmers and sell under their own brand,
Ali`i Hawaiian Hula Hands Coffee. Photo by Julia Neal
BLENDING KA`U COFFEE with coffees from such origins as Latin America and Africa was the hot topic at Ka`u Coffee Growers Cooperative’s meeting last night. The discussion came on the heels of the rolling out of a 10 percent Ka`u Coffee Blend under the name of famous chef Alan Wong, produced by Hawai`i Coffee Co. and its CEO Jim Wayman in Honolulu. 
      Since the roll out of the 10 percent Alan Wong Ka`u Coffee, KTA and Longs have dropped the Ka`u Coffee Growers Cooperative brand, said the co-op president Gloria Camba, though some members questioned whether this was a coincidence in timing. Co-op vice president Leo Norberte said that Ka`u Coffee 10 percent blend is on sale at KTA for $5.49 for a seven-ounce bag.
      Ka`u Coffee farmer Berta Miranda predicted that if people see the lower-priced coffee with the names Ka`u and Alan Wong on the bag, they will buy blended coffee instead of the more expensive 100 percent Ka`u Coffee. “We work hard to keep our coffee clean and pure. I don’t like the idea of blending coffee because people will choose to buy the cheap coffee.”
      One of the original Ka`u Coffee growers, who started farming with other displaced sugar workers as the cane company was shutting down in 1996, said that she was shocked that the cooperative was not asked for an opinion before the decision to blend was made.
      Trini Marques said that blending Kona Coffee “jammed up their market.” She contended that farmers who have built their own niche markets will be hurt “when they flood the shelves with cheap coffee. We established the name Ka`u, and now they are going to use the name we built to sell cheap coffee. We don’t need somebody like Chef Alan Wong to take credit for our hard work,” said Marques. She said the mayor and the state told the farmers that “we have a niche; we should keep our coffee pure. Why ruin a good thing?”
Phil and Merle Becker have built up the Aikane Plantation
100 Percent Ka`u Coffee brand in markets on this island,
O`ahu, Japan and the mainland.
      Marques said that the blending is all about volume and money. “When you put one gold coin in front of your eye and another gold coin in front of your other eye, what do you see?” Nothing, the person is blind, said Marques. She also pointed to her native Hawaiian heritage and said the move toward blending and volume marketing reminds her of the feelings Hawaiians have about lands being sold.
      Camba asked whether local coffee producers would be able to blend their own Ka`u Coffees, and several farmers said it would require a lot of capital to import coffee from the international market.
      Marques and others said they outright oppose the idea of blending. She said farmers who sold their coffee to broker Chris Manfredi believed they were selling for Starbucks to promote 100 percent Ka`u Coffee. She said Manfredi also told farmers to keep the coffee pure and refrain from blending it.
      Wayman said Manfredi sold ten thousand pounds of Ka`u Coffee for Hawai`i Coffee Co.’s blending program for $135,000. Wayman said Ka`u Coffee Mill sold the same amount for the same price for the blend.
      Louis Danielle, Ka`u Coffee Mill manager, said that he sees working with Wayman, the largest coffee roaster and marketer in Hawai`i, as a good thing. He told the coffee farmers that Wayman “dominates the business in Hawai`i,” and that the affordable blend will “open up Ka`u Coffee to a wider market.” He said that Wayman sells more 100 percent Kona Coffee than anyone else and will also be selling 100 percent Ka`u Coffee. Danielle said that “Jim is into helping Ka`u. ... Jim wants three, four, five thousand acres of coffee. This gives us another outlet for the green bean.”
      “Globally, people blend. I think this will propel us,” said Danielle. He said the world price of coffee, the kind of used for the blend, is selling for under a dollar a pound. He said that if the price of Ka`u Coffee keeps rising, it could out-price itself, and it could be hard to sell green beans to anyone outside of Hawai`i.
      Some farmers agreed that making a broader market could keep the parchment price high for farmers while hurting the local brands.
      This morning, Aikane Plantation Coffee owner and coffee marketer Phil Becker, who sells the brand developed with his wife Merle, said, “The farmers have worked so long and hard to get the coffee up to where they can at least make a profit, and to have someone pull the rug out from under them just seems wrong. Alan Wong has said that Ka`u Coffee should be pure and only prepared through a French press. I don’t understand why he is doing this. I don’t understand how selling a cheap blend will help the local, pure Ka`u Coffee brands in any way.”
      To comment on or “like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

COFFEE GROWERS AND OTHER KA`U FARMERS are invited to U.H. Cooperative Extension Service’s free Proper Pesticide Use and Safety Workshop Wednesday, Dec. 18 at 6 p.m. at Pahala Community Center.
      Presenters will talk about Federal Worker Protection Standards for ag workers and pesticide handlers, use, application, storage and disposal, “which are major production, labor, marketing, legal and financial risks that growers face,” says a flyer on the program.
      Farmers are asked to bring their pesticide cards.
      To register, call 322-4892 or email ginab@hawaii.edu by Dec. 16.
      To comment on or “like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Ruth Coller Forbes is Kulani's new warden.
KULANI CORRECTIONAL FACILITY IS HIRING STAFF in preparation for its scheduled re-opening next July. The minimum-security facility will have 96 full-time positions to oversee about 200 low-risk inmates. 
      Ruth Coller Forbes, the new warden for Kulani, is responsible for getting it ready for re-opening July 1.
      “I’m excited for this opportunity, not only to grow in my career but to be a part of the re-opening of the Kulani Correctional Facility because I was around when it closed,” Forbes told Hawai`i Tribune-Herald. “So, I do know the impact it had on the community and the staff and the inmates.
      “Our focus primarily right now is getting the staff on board, and once we do that, we’ll have the staff necessary for the screening of the inmates that will be coming in,” Forbes said. “We’ll be hiring new staff as well as bringing back former Kulani employees. They were given the option to return to the facility in their previous positions.”
      Forbes told reporters Tom Callis and John Burnett the facility will be both a social and economic boon locally.
      “I think it will have a big impact on the community and, not only the community at large, but also for the inmates that will be returning home to the islands,” she said. “For them, it’s really important to be close to their families. And also, it has a big impact for hiring … as it provides employment opportunities for people in the community.”
      Kulani closed in 2009 due to budget cutbacks. Before it re-opens, upgrades are being made to kitchen equipment and electrical systems, along with other minor repairs.
      To comment on or “like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

KA`U HIGH & PAHALA ELEMENTARY STUDENTS in the English Language Learner program won third place in East Hawai`i during the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council WorldQuest quiz held on Nov. 23 in Hilo.
      Academic WorldQuest is a team quiz game designed to enhance international education. Teams of four compete in six rounds, and the winning team wins a trip to Washington, D.C. to compete in the National Academic WorldQuest Competition.
Ka`u students participated in the 2013 PAAC Academic WorldQuest competition.
      Kealakehe High School, Mid-Pacific Institute and Seabury Hall teams placed first, second, and third in the state, respectively, in a field of 204 students on 51 teams from 34 schools who competed in PAAC’s 14th Annual Academic WorldQuest Competition. Emcee Howard Dicus led the competition, which took place simultaneously on O`ahu, Maui, Kaua`i, Moloka`i and the Big Island. Categories included Current Events, Cybersecurity, Global Economic Realignment, Global Health, U.S. Energy Policy and UN Millennium Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty & Hunger.
      KHPES ELL coordinator David Santos prepared the students to showcase their knowledge in this event.
      To comment on or “like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.   

VOLUNTEERS HELP REMOVE INVASIVE Himalayan ginger from Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park trails during Stewardship at the Summit on Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Meet at Kilauea Visitor Center. Free; park entrance fees apply.

THE ANNUAL MAKAHIKI FESTIVAL takes place this weekend at Punalu`u Beach Park, celebrating Hawaiian values, culture, talent and food. The event features free music, dance, crafting and feasting with people gathering and camping as people join together Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday.

PAHALA CHRISTMAS PARADE is this coming Sunday, Dec. 8. The 35th annual parade begins at 1 p.m., with Santa handing out candy to keiki and making an appearance at Ka`u Hospital. Community groups, coffee farmers, the fire department and many more join in this holiday celebration.
      To participate, call Eddie Andrade at 928-0808.

SUNDAY IS ALSO FALL CREATIVITY DAY from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Discovery Center Community Hall. Ka`u School of the Arts offers batik, ‘ohe kapala (bamboo stamp making, dying, sewing and jewelry making workshops.
      For more information, call 854-1540.