Three new adventures join a lineup of coffee-related activities at the 2013 Ka‘u Coffee Festival from Friday to May 5. They include a Ka‘u Mountain Water System Hike, a Coffee & Cattle Day at Aikane Plantation and Ka‘u Star Gazing atop Makanau mountain.
The Ka‘u Mountain Water System Hike will be from 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 1, and explores flume systems of the sugar cane era and development of hydroelectric power in Ka‘u. John Cross, former operations manager of the Ka‘u Sugar Co., leads the moderate-to-difficult hike that covers “undulating and rocky terrain” with an elevation gain from 3,100 to 3,500 feet. It also traverses suspension bridges.
The hike is limited to 30 and lunch is provided for $35. Register at 928-0550.
Coffee & Cattle Day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 3, will include an all-you-can-eat buffet at Aikane Plantation. Attendees will see how this Pahala-area agricultural operation grows coffee, grass-fed beef, protea, fruit, taro and more. Aikane traces its coffee history back to 1894, when J.C. Searle planted the first coffee trees in Ka‘u. Well into their second century of life, these trees are still used to propagate offspring. Admission is $25 and limited to 100. Register at firstname.lastname@example.org or 927-2252.
Ka‘u Star Gazing atop Makanau mountain is from 5:30-10 p.m. on May 3 and led by John Cross and Shawn Laatsch, planetarium manager of ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center. Attendees will enjoy a guided interpretation of the night sky from the 1,800-foot summit above Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach. Participants will also be privy to panoramic views of the Ka‘u region extending to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and learn about the area’s history and astronomy’s relevance to Hawaiian culture.
Stargazing includes four-wheel drive transport up to the summit from Ka‘u, coffee, snacks and a souvenir laser-light pointer. Limited to 35 participants, admission is $35. Phone 928-0550 to sign up.
Debuting at last year’s festival, Simply Elegant: the Ka‘u Farmers Table will be presented from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Saturday at The Inn at Kalaekilohana. Featuring Chefs Kenny Joyce and Patty Fujimoto, the multi-course dinner showcases Ka‘u’s agricultural products.
The menu includes ahi tartare, Caprese salad with homemade mozzarella, Mala‘ai Ratatouille, Pahala corn polenta, Kuahiwi Pelehu beef, coffee shortbread tart, Ka‘u coffee ice cream, Ka‘u coffee espresso caramel and Ka‘u estate coffee. The $75 admission includes a commemorative coffee cup. Advance reservations, only, at 939-8052; visit www.kau-hawaii.com.
Also in its second year, the Triple C Recipe Contest returns to Ka‘u Coffee Mill in Pahala with competition in cookies, candies and crackers, all made with Ka‘u coffee. Contest fun is from 1-4 p.m. Sunday and includes free coffee tasting, entertainment by Keoki Kahumoku and the ‘Ukulele Kids and tours of the Ka‘u Coffee Mill.
Entry info is posted at www.kaucoffeemill.com; or phone 928-0550. Pick up at entry form and free coffee for your entry at the mill at 96-2694 Wood Valley Road.
Founded in a coffee tradition hailing back to the 1800s — plus the hard work of sugar employees who lost their jobs in 1996 — Ka‘u coffee burst onto the specialty coffee scene by winning numerous awards. These accolades highlight the unique combination of people and place that makes Ka‘u coffee a favorite across the globe.
The festival’s mission is to raise awareness of Ka‘u as a world-class, coffee-growing origin.
Serving as an economic stimulus for the rural Ka‘u region, the festival is supported by the county Department of Research & Development, Hawaii Tourism Authority and state Department of Agriculture. For more information and festival updates, visit kaucoffeefest.com, follow the Ka‘u Coffee Festival on Facebook and Twitter or call 929-9550.