Seed to Cup

“Coffee is the common man’s gold, and like gold, it brings to every person the feeling of luxury and nobility.”

– Sheikh-Abdul-Qadir, “In Praise of Coffee” (1587)

The buzz around town is, there will be no better place to get a caffeine rush Saturday than at the seventh annual Seed to Cup Coffee Festival at the Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapu.

You’ll need your energy, too, as there will be a lot to drink in all day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the outdoor event that will spill out from the courtyard onto the lawn between the Mill House and the store.

But not just any old “Joe” will be in the spotlight. This event is sponsored by the Maui Coffee Association, and numerous award-winning farmers from the sixth annual statewide Coffee Cupping Competition that was recently held in Keauhou-Kona on the Big Island will be on hand, sampling and selling their coffees.

The best part is, the event is free and open to the public.

“It will be a fun day, full of displays and demos of coffee processing and brewing methods, food, live music, a silent auction and a fashion show by students at UH Maui College’s Fashion Technology department, using coffee-related materials,” says event Chairman David Gridley, who owns Maui Oma Coffee Roasting Co.

Maui Tropical Plantation’s Executive Chef Marc McDowell will offer coffee-inspired and infused food for sale.

“There’s never a dull moment here,” says the chef, who formerly was with Makena Beach & Golf Resort and The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, speaking about his ever-burgeoning role at the plantation.

“We’ll be selling scrip, and each plate will cost $5. There will be tables scattered about for seating,” adds McDowell, who has hired Bob Cambra of the former Waterfront to be his chef de cuisine.

Sink your teeth into Molokai Muleskinner Coffee-rubbed lamb chop on citrus polenta; and MauiGrown Coffee- and cocoa-scented buffalo chili.

“We’ll also make Keokea Farms Coffee- and achiote-rubbed grilled flank-steak fajita with fire-roasted bell peppers, caramelized Maui onions, Meyer lemon creme fraiche and brie cheese,” says the consummate chef, who is elevating this coffee event into something fit for a gala. “We’ll serve it with cinnamon tortilla crisps.”

Kumu Farms is situated on the grounds of Maui Tropical Plantation, and McDowell will utilize its organic mixed greens and serve them with roasted beets and a drizzle of Kula Beans coffee dressing.

As icing on the cake, you may indulge in Hawaiian espresso cheesecake with spiced Graham-cracker crust and mocha foam; and popcorn, shave ice and some keiki fare such as hot dogs.

The Mill House will provide tents and staffing for food and beverage booths, and you may buy espresso drinks just inside the door at the Tiki Bar.

“We’ll also have coffee-inspired cocktails, such as fresh espresso martini with vodka and simple syrup; the Southbound Pachyderm with espresso, Amarula (cream liqueur from South Africa), Grand Marnier and whipped cream; and the Rumsnatcher with espresso, ginger simple syrup, club soda, dark sweet rum and turmeric.”

Master of Ceremonies Alaka’i Paleka will be percolating with her humor, starting at 9 a.m., continuing through the day. Kahu Laki will perform a Hawaiian blessing at 10 a.m., then the entertainment begins.

Watch the Zenshin Daiko drummers; listen to Na Hoku Award winners and slack key masters Kevin and Sheldon Brown with hula dancers; followed by Benny Uyetake with jazz and blues pianist Fulton Tashombe; and Andrew and Jay Molina.

The fashion show will run from 2 to 3 p.m. Students will strut their stuff on stage using coffee-related materials such as burlap bags, packaging, stir sticks and serveware. It should be a hoot and a half.

“Of course, coffee will be front and center, and we’ll feature displays and demonstrations of coffee processing equipment, pulping, hulling, roasting and brewing throughout the day,” says Gridley.

“Methods and techniques that can be used by backyard coffee growers will be displayed and demonstrated throughout the afternoon, and local coffee farmers will be there with roasted coffee beans for sale, hot coffee and iced, too!” he adds.

It is estimated that 100 farms now grow 100 percent Maui coffee here on island. At the statewide Coffee Cupping Competition held last month on the Big Island, Maui had 12 of the 82 entries.

“Maui had the highest average score of any of the eight Hawaiian Coffee Districts,” says Sydney Smith, president of the Maui Coffee Association as well as owner of the esteemed Maliko Estate Coffee.

“Maui placed three coffees in the overall Top 10 and six coffees in the overall Top 20. MauiGrown Coffee of Lahaina tied for first place honors in the commercial division for its Maui Mokka Natural.”

“Great coffee doesn’t just happen,” says Kimo Falconer, president of MauiGrown Coffee. “It takes a dedicated team of farm- workers to produce award-winning coffee, and I couldn’t be prouder.”

“Roasting is also critical to bringing out the maximum flavor,” says Jeff Ferguson, who is co-owner and manager of the MauiGrown Coffee Co. Store in Lahaina, where the Maui Mokka Natural is available. “We invite the public to taste the fruits of our labor at our store and at the event. We offer a medium roast and a dark roast to please all palates; and more coffee varieties.”

Other Maui winners of the recent statewide Coffee Cupping Competition include Keokea Farms, with its organic entry of Typica, Kent and Caturra varietals. Keokea owners Ann Ashley and Rafael Escobar once again made Maui proud.

Also in the Maui division, MauiGrown Coffee’s Mokka Natural received second place; and third place was awarded to Tom Leuteneker for his Pueo Coffee.

In the creative division, Tama Brandeburg of Tambra Gardens/ Kula Beans got seventh place overall.

“All of these winners of the 2014 Hawaii State Cupping competition will be on hand to share their coffee-growing secrets,” Gridley enthuses.

Vendors, such as Maui Coffee Roasters of Kahului, will be on hand to sell their coffee merchandise, such as minihome appliances. Check out brands Hario, Toddy, Bonavita and Aero Plus.

And, don’t forget, caffeine may boost your longterm memory, according to a recent study in Nature Neurosceince.

“Basically, it will be a fun, educational day for anyone interested in coffee,” Gridley says. “Backyard gardeners, plantation supervisors, commercial farmers and coffee enthusiasts will all learn what goes into a carefully crafted cup.”