Organic Grower Wins Best In Show At Kona Coffee Competition

Pearl Estate Organics took home the coveted first prize at the 2006 Kona Coffee Cupping Competition held at the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort on the Big Island. Pat Pearlman, owner of Pearl Estate, owns two acres of coffee trees in Honaunau at an elevation of 1,900 ft. The estate is certified organic by the Hawaii Organic Farmers Association -- and has been in operation for 12 years.

More than 70 coffee growers -- all of whom had to be located on the Big Island's Kona coast to qualify -- submitted entries to the competition that headlined the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival. Master coffee tasters from one of the event's sponsors -- Gevalia -- judged each entry in a blind taste format. Judges only knew each entry by a randomly assigned number. The numbers were then changed between each stage of tasting, further testing the judge's palates and nose for consitency.

Each entrant had to submit a 50-pound sample, of which 5 lbs. were actually entered in to the contest. Judges scored each entrant on 6 categories: Fragrance, aroma, taste, nose, aftertaste and body.

Pearlman cited a large, early harvest this season may have had something to do with her brew being pinned the blue ribbon. A longer aging period for the coffee cherries may have contributed to the robust flavor of her beans, Pearlman said. She terraces her 25 foot coffee trees around a tropical garden that bears taro, banana, pineapple, wild orchids and anthuriums. A few judges claimed they could taste the fruity tones in her brew, albeit in miniscule doses.

Second place was awarded to Pau Hana Estate, owned by Carol Weaver and Sandy Masterson, and located in Captain Cook. Third place went to Kona Cafe, owned by Allan Frank and Kathy Sweetser, also located in Honaunau.