How to Celebrate the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, No Matter Where You Are!

Hawaii’s Kona Coffee Cultural Festival has been running for more than 50 years on the Big Island! It’s become a popular event that locals and visitors enjoy every year. While coffee growers in the Kona district compete in the Cupping Competition, festival-goers tour local coffee farms, watch live performances, and see local art and cultural demonstrations. And in 2021, you don’t need to live in Hawai`i to join in, as some parts of the festival can be viewed online.

What Is the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival?

Hawai`i’s Kona Coffee Cultural Festival has been held every year since 1970, making it the Aloha State’s longest-running food festival. This annual event was developed to promote Hawaiian food and culture, and pay homage to coffee grown in the Kona district. It’s held in November to celebrate the coffee harvest and spotlight Hawai`i at a time of year when tourism is normally slowing down.

The production and export of coffee is a vital part of Hawai`i’s agricultural economy. There are around 650 farms cultivating coffee in the famous Kona district. Over 3,500 acres of land are dedicated to the production of Kona coffee, where the combination of volcanic soil and ideal climate produce a rich, smooth cup of coffee that’s enjoyed by connoisseurs the world over.

The Kona Coffee Festival is centered around Kailua-Kona and the Kona district on Hawai`i Island’s west side.

How to Celebrate Kona Coffee Fest

You don’t need to be in Hawai`i to celebrate Kona Coffee Fest this year because many live acts and events are streaming online! In 2021, the festival runs from November 4 to 7 and is a hybrid event, with both live and virtual components. This means you can celebrate safely, no matter where in the world you are!

Attend Kona Coffee Fest in Hawai`i

If you live in Hawaii or are visiting during early November, there are plenty of live events to enjoy during Kona Coffee Fest. While many of this year’s happenings are in a virtual format, there are still lots of live options during festival weekend.

The full schedule of live events is spread out over the four days of Kona Coffee Fest. Entry to most events is with the purchase of a $5 festival button, but some events, including the Grand Finale Gala, charge a little more.

Some highlights include:

  • Tours of Kona coffee farms – Lessons all about how coffee is grown and processed in Kona, as well as the history of the Kona districts coffee pioneers
  • Ho`olaule`a festival – Art and cultural displays, Kona tasting booths, hula demonstrations, and ukulele and lei-making demonstrations
  • The Kona People Art Exhibition – A curated exhibition of works focusing on the land and people of the Kona district
  • The Sugai Kona Coffee Talent Night – Live music and dance performances by local residents of Kailua-Kona and the Kona district
  • Kona Coffee Latte Art Throwdown – A competition featuring local baristas creating latte art using Kona coffee
  • Miss Kona Coffee and Little Miss Kona Coffee scholarship program competition
  • Grand Finale Gala evening – An evening catered by local chefs, with music and dancing and a silent auction. It’s held at King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel Lū`au Grounds.

The Kona Coffee Cultural Festival also holds a Cupping Competition. Here, dozens of local 100% Kona coffee producers compete for Specialty and Heritage Coffee awards. The judging portion of the event is closed to the public, but awards will be presented at an online ceremony.

Attend Kona Coffee Fest Online

Because the 2021 Kona Coffee Fest is a hybrid event, there’s lots to see online. Some of the events are available to view on-demand, while others are livestreams of live events so are only available to watch at certain times. If you’re interested in any of the festival’s online events, make sure to note whether it’s a livestream or on-demand, so you don’t miss out!

Check the event website for a full rundown of virtual events and how to attend them. Some highlights of the virtual portion of the Kona Coffee Fest include:

  • Festival Opening Blessing Ceremony – Includes welcome messages from the County of Hawai`i Mayor and the Festival President
  • Virtual tours of Kona district coffee farms
  • Kona Coffee Cupping Seminar – All about the technical processes involved in making and brewing Kona coffee
  • A virtual tour of the Kona People Art Exhibition
  • Kona Coffee Recipe Contest – A showcase of delicious Kona coffee recipes and cooking demonstrations by local chefs
  • Virtual attendance at the Ho`olaule`a Festival, Sugai Kona Coffee Talent Night, and Kona Coffee Latte Art Throwdown, and the Miss Kona Coffee and Little Miss Kona Coffee events
  • Virtual attendance at the Grand Finale Gala event

Have a Global Kona Coffee Celebration

Wherever you are in the world, you can celebrate Kona Coffee Fest by watching festival events online. If you want to go all-out for your own celebration, host a lū`au and serve Hawaiian-themed drinks and food. Alternatively, try some of the options below to add Hawaiian-style fun to your festival weekend. Don’t forget the Kona coffee!

  • Wear your favorite aloha shirt, sarong, or island vacation outfit, plus a lei.
  • Accent your living room with Hawaiian decorations, such as lei, LED tiki torches, and raffia table skirting.
  • Make a Hawaiian feast with menu items like pulled roast pork and Hawaiian sweet rolls with pineapple salsa, or huli huli chicken. Check out other delectable lū`au foods here.
  • Learn to hula dance by following along with a YouTube tutorial.
  • If you have a group of people, have a limbo competition. Grab a broomstick or another long stick, and take turns trying to maneuver underneath it without touching it.
  • Enjoy a cup (or two) of Big Island Candies’ premium 100% Kona coffee. It’s made right here on the Big Island and has that deliciously smooth Kona taste and incredible aroma.
  • Don’t forget treats to go with coffee! Our crunchy macadamia nut biscotti is the perfect accompaniment to Kona coffee, with a crisp bite and topped with waves of luscious milk chocolate or dark chocolate.
  • Try some local favorites, such as milk chocolate dipped Ika.

The Kona Coffee Festival Is Not to Be Missed

The Big Island’s Kona Coffee Fest is a great opportunity to enjoy Hawaiian fun and learn more about the amazing coffee and people of Kailua-Kona. Whether you’re attending live events in Hawaii or watching online via a livestream, there’s plenty to learn and lots to enjoy at Kona Coffee Fest in 2021!

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