The Ka‘ū District remains the undiscovered gem of Hawaii’s coffee industry.

When the Ka‘ū sugar mill closed in the mid-1990s, most of the people in the town of Pahala were left without jobs. Hoping that coffee would be the new crop to save Pahala’s economy, former sugar-mill workers received a U.S. federal grant to try growing it.

What followed was the unlikeliest of successes. With no formal training, these former sugar-mill workers began producing world class coffees in their backyards. Two of these coffees jumped into the top 10 of the world’s largest international green-bean competition: the 2007 SCAA Roasters Guild Cupping Competition.

Ka‘ū coffee has continued to amass both domestic and international awards. It’s now the third- largest coffee region in the Hawaiian islands.

Still, Ka‘ū coffees can be hard for buyers to find. While Kona coffee farmers have their own annual competition, Ka‘ū does not.

That is why Isla Custom Coffees, in its second collaboration with ACE, is pleased to bring forward a selection of custom-made microlots made entirely of coffees from the Ka‘ū District.

Awards won by Ka‘ū coffees in cupping competitions

SCAA Roasters Guild Coffees of the Year (for coffees grown internationally)

  • 2012 – Three coffees in the top 10
  • 2011 – One coffee in the top 10
  • 2010 – One coffee in the top 10

SCAA Roasters Guild Cupping Competition (for coffees grown internationally)

  • 2009 – Seventh Place
  • 2008 – Eleventh Place
  • 2007 – Sixth Place, Ninth Place

Hawaii Coffee Association Cupping Competition (for coffees grown statewide)

  • 2022 – Third Place, Eighth Place, Ninth Place
  • 2021 – Second Place, Fifth Place
  • 2019 – Fifth Place, Ninth Place
  • 2017 – Eighth Place, Ninth Place
  • 2016 – Fifth Place
  • 2015 – Second Place, Fourth Place
  • 2014 – Grand Champion, Second Place, Tenth Place 2013 – Fourth Place, Tenth Place
  • 2011 – Grand Champion
  • 2010 – Grand Champion
  • 2009 – Fourth Place, Fifth Place

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