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Plenty of food and coffee at Ka‘u Coffee Festival

April 29, 2014 - 12:05am

The sixth annual Ka‘u Coffee Festival returns Friday to May 11, with ten days of fun and educational coffee-centric events. As an economic stimulus for the rural Ka‘u region, the festival offers opportunities to experience the sense of place that has made Ka‘u coffee a world class favorite.

And there are plenty of food-related events, starting with a Paina Open House at historic Pahala Plantation House on Friday. Music, hula, house tours and, of course, Ka‘u coffee, are also on the menu. For information visit or call 928-9811.

The fine dining event, “Taste Success: Ka‘u Farmers’ Table at Kalaekilohana Inn &Retreat” on Saturday features locally sourced products and live entertainment. Tickets are $75. For information visit

Starting at noon Sunday, the “Triple C” recipe contest will be held at the Ka‘u Coffee Mill in Pahala. Cookies, candies and cakes, all made with Ka‘u coffee, will be judged in several categories, followed by tasting. Admission is free, and so is the coffee and recipe entry sampling. For information visit

Coffee &Cattle Day, May 9, includes an all-you-can-eat buffet at 10 a.m. at Aikane Plantation in the Pahala area. Aikane grows coffee, grass-fed beef, protea, fruit, taro and more, with a coffee history that traces to 1894 when J.C. Searle planted the first coffee trees in Ka‘u. The $25 cost is a bargain and limited to 100 people. For information visit or call 927-2252.

The Ka‘u Coffee Festival’s mission is to raise awareness of Ka‘u as a world-class coffee growing region, and it is supported by the County of Hawaii Department of Research &Development, Hawaii Tourism Authority and Hawaii Department of Agriculture. All Ka‘u coffee festival events are open to the public. Visit for a complete list of events.

To whet your appetite, here is the grand prize winner from last year’s “Triple C” contest.

Coco mocha roca

Makes about 30 two-inch squares. Note: Very humid weather may keep sugar mixture from setting.

1 cup Hawaiian cane sugar

1 cup butter, plus more for greasing pan

3 tablespoons finely ground Ka‘u coffee, divided

1 1/2 cups roasted and salted macadamia nuts, chopped and divided

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup shredded coconut

Butter a 9-by-11 baking pan. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the sugar, butter, and 2 tablespoons of the coffee grounds. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Turn down heat to medium; continue stirring constantly for about 12 minutes, or until a candy thermometer reads 300 F. Do not allow mixture to go over 320 F. Remove from heat.

Add 1 cup of the macadamia nuts to sugar mixture; mix. Using one or two wooden spoons, carefully spread mixture on the baking pan as evenly as possible. Caution: Mixture will be very hot. Sprinkle chocolate chips and remaining 1 tablespoon coffee grounds over all. Allow chocolate to melt for a minute, then spread it evenly over the top, using a wooden spoon. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup macadamia nuts and the coconut over the top, pressing down a little so it sticks to the chocolate. Cool completely before cutting into 2-inch squares with a sharp knife.

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