More Coffee, Less Sugar; Big Island Cash Crop

Due to the rise in popularity of Kau coffee from Pahala on the Big Island, displaced sugar farmers now have a sweet tooth for the little red Kau berries. In April 2012 the top 10 brews for Coffee of the Year were posted and Kau Coffee received three of the ten positions (6,8 and 10). Five years of rapid growth and recent accolades from the Specialty Coffee Association of America and the Roasters Guild has infused this community with new energy.

Big Island farmers looking for a taste of success
Jump in your time-traveling canoe to rewind back twenty years and you’d find sugar was the main cash crop in Pahala, Hawaii as well as many other parts of the islands. Today its a very different story. These farmers were forced to stop farming sugar due to rising costs and stiff competition. The ever-growing ease of global trade and the cheap products imported from Asia caused Hawaii’s sugar industry to take a huge hit. The southern community of Pahala was dealt an economic blow in 1996 when their sugar mill closed.

New Big Island cash crop on the rise

6 years ago if you asked someone what a Kau berry was they would just give you a blank stare. But, these little berries have single-handedly boosted tourism in a region of Hawaii that hasn’t received much interest before, and the ex-sugar farmers of Pahala, Hawaii are enjoying a refreshing new crop. Now, some farmers are receiving $80 per pound for some specialty roasts. Big coffee outlets like Starbucks, QVC in Japan are now selling Kau coffee. The little southern community of Pahala on the Big Island is receiving much recognition; the Kau Coffee Mill is quickly becoming a tourist attraction and major processing center.

Get a taste of Hawaii

If you’re headed to the Big Island to taste the rich brew of fresh-roasted Kau Coffee, take one of our Big Island excursions that will give you a unique Hawaiian adventure. Become a connoisseur of coffee and Hawaii all at once with Discover Hawaii Tours. Learn more about the Big Island. 

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