September 20, 2018
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April 2015 – The Independent Voice

The Independent Voice
Newsletter of the Kona Coffee Farmers Association     April 2015
PO Box 5436 Kailua Kona Hawaii 96745 USA

Message from the President
Kona Coffee Prices
Time to Fertilize Your Coffee
UN Organization to Study Impacts of 10% Blends
Steiman’s Response to March Article on Coffee Quality
1908 Article about False labeling of Kona Coffee
Buy Direct from Farmer Listings
Can Coffee reduce Risk of MS?
Legislative Update
CBB Evolution and Our Own
Biodegradable Coffee Cups Embedded with Seeds
Recipe: Coffee & Spice Rubbed Salmon Tacos
Write to Us
Editor – Clare Wilson

Message From the President
   Hello fellow coffee farmers and friends. There is a lot going on in Honolulu far from the coffee fields. February’s Senate Bill 594 passed through the AG Committee with the amendment that nothing be done about the percentage of Kona Coffee for it to be called a Kona Blend but that the 90% foreign coffee be noted but not described in the ingredient listing. The bill was then on its way to the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee where apparently Commerce rules over Protection as it never even got a hearing.
   March brought us this gem, HB1051, a so called Geographical Identity Origin bill. Someone had the foresight to realize that consumers were interested in knowing that what they were purchasing was really produced in the geographical area it proclaimed to be from. Hurrah you say? Guess what, the premiere crops of Hawaii are specifically excluded. Yep, a pineapple has to be a pineapple but coffee and macadamia nuts can only be a hot potato.  This one passed through the Ag Committee and is on its way to the famous Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee where I guess it is good to protect the consumer when there is little or no commerce. I heard it said the other day by a macadamia nut company man that there doesn’t have to be a single Hawaii grown mac nut in a bag of “Hawaiian Macadamia Nuts”. I think the percentage of Hawaiian nuts have to be noted on the label to be described as a Blend and as long as the 0 %, (as in zero) is noted on the package it is what it says it is according to whoever is checking, (the HDOA?).
This sounds like Alice in Wonderland to me. Tea anybody?
Tom Butler, KCFA President

Kona Coffee Prices
As the 2014-15 coffee season closes and the 2015-16 coffee season begins, it is a good time for farmers to review and evaluate prices for their coffee for the new season.  Here are some examples of current Kona Coffee retail prices that may be useful in that review and evaluation:
 **Peet’s Coffee:  $24.95/half pound—per pound = $49.90 (
 **Starbucks: $25.95/half pound—per pound = $51.90 (Honolulu Airport)
**IslandVintageCoffee: peaberry $59.95–per pound (
 —Submitted by the Branding Committee

Time to Fertilize Now        
As April approaches it is time to fertilize the farm.  As you can observe, the coffee is just beginning to show signs of a growth spurt.  Flowering is mostly pau and the cherry is developing.
   The best time to fertilize is the day before a rain of course.  However one of the best indicators is how moist the ground is.  You want to delay fertilizing if the soil is dry.
   Plan ahead and buy the fertilizer and have it ready to go at a moment’s notice. The first application of the season should be a formulation high in nitrogen for growth.  For inorganic farms, 15-5 25 or 10-4-22 would be a good choice.  You also want to make sure you apply a good dose per tree.  I use the rule of thumb of approximately 1 pound per tree well spread out to the estimated root radius.    
   Organic farms should follow the same rule.  7-7-7 would be a good choice.  Remember, you will need to apply approximately double the amount of fertilizer to achieve the equivalent amount of nitrogen.
    Hope this helps and motivates everyone to fertilize.  The most common problem I see on coffee farms is a lack of fertilizer!
-Submitted by Bob Smith

        Good News!
KCFA, The Kohala Center and American Origin Products Association have been approached by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization to study the economic and social impacts on farmers of the ‘10% Kona Blend’ (legal marketing scam) on our Origin Product – 100% Kona Coffee.
Submitted by Colehour Bondera

Steiman’s Response to Independent Voice Article

 I’m writing this article in response to the March Independent Voice article, “Do Hawaii Coffee Grades Reflect “Quality”?”  That article reflects a workshop I led with the KCFA a few years ago where we tasted different Hawaiian grades of coffee and compared their tastes.  In the workshop, some of us preferred the lower grades over the higher grades.
   On the surface, this result may suggest that the grading system we use in Hawaii does not correlate to the quality of the cup.  While this may be true, the tasting at the workshop cannot truly identify it.  The workshop was informal and uncontrolled.  Though it was fun and interesting, we can conclude nothing about the grades and quality and use the experience as preliminary data with which to further explore the issue.  To draw a more reliable conclusion, we would need to cup (not taste) the various grades from a range of farms, across a range of roast levels, and with some additional replication. 
   What I took away from that workshop is that we should start thinking about our grading system and how it may or may not relate to cup quality.  Not only would it be valuable to determine what the correlation is, if any, but also if we care if there is a correlation or not.  Both of these ideas are worth discussing and exploring.  Unfortunately, that workshop didn’t give us much information to bring to these conversations.
   My opinion is that our grading system does not correlate with cup quality.  Primarily, bean size seems to not relate to quality (I’ve found no data to support or refute this).  More importantly, what type of defect is in a particular coffee probably plays a bigger role than the counted number of those defects.  For example, a black bean tastes worse than a broken bean. 
   We should not conclude from that old workshop that lower grades taste just as good or better than the higher grades.  We don’t know, for example, what CBB damage was there or how extensive it was.  If a coffee is fairly clean and the grades differ because of bean size and some minor defects, than the taste across the grades may be similar.  However, if the lower grades formed out of a coffee are from horrendous defects, a taste difference is likely.
   I encourage all farmers to evaluate the cup quality of all their grades of coffee.  With that information, a coffee seller can have a conversation with their consumers about the taste of the coffee, rather than the grades.  I suspect most consumers, in time, will learn to care more about what a coffee tastes like, rather than the label of a grade.
   While we could rely on the state grading system to help sell our coffee, we should not.  It is our responsibility to know this information and use it in our marketing and selling efforts.
Shawn Steiman

 Buy Direct From Farmer Listings 

If you do not have an actual website-,— as an Active Voting Member you do have the ability to create a virtual Listing and include up to 3 photos and all your Farm Information. It will be displayed on the “Buy Direct from Farmer” Listing pages along with all the others.  We do not offer you a shopping cart but you do have ability to write about your offerings, post 3 photos, and give all your contact information.
Email with the Subject:  “KCFA web listing” and we’ll get you going.

1908 Article about False Labeling of Kona Coffee
The Pacific Commercial Advertiser (Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands), 07 Aug. 1908
(Retyped below for ease in reading:)

We kicked on Hay’s coffee, and he protested.  We asked him to taste it.  He declared he had given up the beverage years ago, but at once produced the package from which it was made, labeled “Pure Kona Coffee,” opened it proudly, took one sniff, and exclaimed, “Chicory, by thunder!”  A moment later he was on the gasoline car coughing down to a place near the end of the line where they roast and grind their own coffee, and I know a very prominent concern I shall call on in Honolulu with a bitter protest against a chicory compound being sent out as pure Kona coffee, and I shall also inquire into the ruling of the Federal pure food law, which I firmly believe applies to Territories.  Public sentiment at least should cry out against any adulteration being labelled as “Pure Kona Coffee.”  Too much has been spent trying to develop the coffee industry in Hawaii to have it given a black eye in this way by our own merchants.
Submitted by Joachim Oster

Can Coffee Reduce your Risk of MS?
from Comunicaffe
   WASHINGTON, US –Drinking coffee may be associated with a lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 67th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, April 18 to 25, 2015.
   “Caffeine intake has been associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, and our study shows that coffee intake may also protect against MS, supporting the idea that the drug may have protective effects for the brain,” said study author Ellen Mowry, MD, MCR, with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.
   For the study, researchers looked at a Swedish study of 1,629 people with MS and 2,807 healthy people, and a U.S. study of 1,159 people with MS and 1,172 healthy people.
   The studies characterized coffee consumption among persons with MS one and five years before MS symptoms began (as well as 10 years before MS symptoms began in the Swedish study) and compared it to coffee consumption of people who did not have MS at similar time periods.
   The study also accounted for other factors such as age, sex, smoking, body mass index, and sun exposure habits.
   The Swedish study found that compared to people who drank at least six cups of coffee per day during the year before symptoms appeared, those who did not drink coffee had about a one and a half times increased risk of developing MS. Drinking large amounts of coffee five or 10 years before symptoms started was similarly protective.
In the US study, people who didn’t drink coffee were also about one and a half times more likely to develop the disease than those who drank four or more cups of coffee per day in the year before symptoms started to develop the disease.
   “Caffeine should be studied for its impact on relapses and long-term disability in MS as well,” said Mowry.
   The study was supported by the Swedish Medical Research Council, the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg, AFA, and Swedish Brain Foundations, the Swedish Association for Persons with Neurological Disabilities and the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Institute on Aging.
Submitted by Christine Coleman

Legislative Update
Truth-In-Coffee-Labeling—SB594 and HB387:
Notwithstanding a unanimously adopted Resolution from the Hawaii County Council and a Petition with more than 1,800 signatures asking for reform of the State’s disgraceful 10% coffee blend labeling law, for the 24th straight year the Hawaii State Legislature has failed to act.  House Agriculture Committee Chair Clift Tsuji (Hilo) killed Rep. Richard Creagan’s bill (HB387) by failing to give it a hearing.  Senator Russell Ruderman’s bill (SB594) was given a hearing by the Senate Agriculture Committee, but died when Sen. Rosalyn Baker (Senate CPN Chair) and Sen. Jill Tokuda (Senate WAM Chair) refused to hear the bill.
   As Sen. Ruderman told West Hawaii Today, fair labeling for Hawaii coffee is “one of those things where money and politics is the problem with politics.”
    Opposition from the moneyed interests that benefit from deceptive coffee labeling (specifically including the Hawaii Coffee Co./Paradise Beverages/Topa Enterprises corporate conglomerate) was on full display at the February 17 Senate Ag hearing on SB594.  There was opposition testimony from Hawaii Coffee Co. employees Jim Wayman and Roger Kaiwi, Paul Ah Cook and other employees of Paradise Beverages, and Gary Strawn and David Bateman of KCC—plus more than a dozen representatives of various business organizations recruited by the blenders to testify that 10% Hawaii coffee blends are good for business in Hawaii.
   The Legislative Committee thanks the following for their continuing support for reform of the 10% coffee blend law:  Brenda Ford and the Hawaii County Council; Sen. Russell Ruderman; Rep Richard Creagan; Rep. Nicole Lowen; KCFA members and supporters who submitted testimony; and the 1,800+ signers of the online petition.
   Hawaii remains the only region anywhere in the world to authorize the use of its geographical origin names on agricultural products with only 10% genuine content.
Coffee and MacNuts Excluded from Hawaii Origin Bill
    After a March 24 hearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee on HB1051 (a bill authorizing the Hawaii Department of Agriculture to adopt regulations to designate and to protect Hawaii origin products), coffee and macadamia nuts were expressly excluded from the coverage of the bill.  Sen. Russell Ruderman (Puna), Chair of the Agriculture Committee and a strong advocate of truth in labeling for agricultural products, expressed disappointment at the outcome.  Sen. Ruderman commented that, “Hopefully in the future we will have the political will to protect our two most important crops.” The bill next goes to a hearing before the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee.
 –Submitted by the Legislative Committee

Interesting Factoid about CBB Evolution & Our Own 
(Almost 150 Of Our Genes May Have Come From Microbes )
March 13, 2015 | by Justine Alford

photo credit: Liya Graphics/ Shutterstock 
We know that our bodies are absolutely teeming with microbes. In the average healthy human, bacterial cells outnumber our own cells 10 to 1. And let’s not forget about viruses; some studies have suggested that the number of viral particles in our body is greater than the number of human and bacterial cells combined. But what about our genomes? It turns out that our DNA, too, is less human than we thought.
   According to a new study, humans—and a wide variety of other animals—possess tens, if not hundreds of “foreign” genes that have been passed on from single-celled organisms, such as bacteria. What’s more, these genes play active roles in the body, such as contributing to metabolism, and this process of gene acquisition could still be occurring, at least in some lineages. According to the authors, these findings suggest that this gene transfer could have played a previously underappreciated role in biochemical diversification during the evolution of animals. The study has been published in Genome Biology.
Biology textbooks will tell you that DNA is passed from parent to offspring, a process known as vertical gene transfer. But some organisms, such as bacteria, are able to transfer their genes to other species living in the same environment, which is known as horizontal gene transfer (HGT). This is how genes for antibiotic resistance are able to spread so rapidly, creating serious problems for the treatment of infections.
   This process is known to play an important role in the evolution of bacteria and other single-celled organisms, but it has also been documented in some simple animals, such as the coffee berry borer beetle * that acquired bacterial enzyme genes for the breakdown of coffee berries. However, whether this occurs in higher animals, such as humans, has long been debated.
   To find out whether it exists in higher organisms, scientists from the University of Cambridge, England, examined the DNA of various different animals, including several species of fruit fly, nematode worms and various different primates, including humans. Specifically, they were looking for high sequence similarity between genes from these organisms and other species, which could indicate that they are foreign in origin.
   According to their analysis, HGT in animals typically results in tens or hundreds of active foreign genes, the majority of which seem to be involved in metabolism. In humans, for example, they confirmed 17 previously identified genes that were attributed to HGT, plus an additional 128 that had not been reported. These genes played a variety of roles, for example helping to break down fatty acids, or assisting antimicrobial or inflammatory responses.
   Most of the foreign genes identified in the study came from bacteria and another group of mostly unicellular organisms known as protists, but viruses and fungi were also found to be donors. This could be why previous studies failed to identify as many foreign genes since only bacteria were included.
   “Surprisingly,” says lead author Alastair Crisp, “far from being a rare occurrence, it appears that HGT has contributed to the evolution of many, perhaps all, animals and that the process is ongoing, meaning that we may need to re-evaluate how we think about evolution.”
*Acuña R, Padilla BE, Flórez-Ramos CP, Rubio JD, Herrera JC, Benavides P, et al.: Adaptive horizontal transfer of a bacterial gene to an invasive insect pest of coffee. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2012,  109:4197-202.  PubMed Abstract
 Submitted by Kally Goschke

 Biodegradable Coffee Cups Embedded With Seeds Grow Into Trees When Thrown Away

By The Event Chronicle on March 4, 2015 ·
  (Bored Panda) A creative company in California called Reduce. Reuse. Grow has designed a coffee cup that is not only biodegradable, but even has seeds in its walls so that it can be planted and grown!
The cups, which are currently part of a Kickstarter campaign, will have seeds embedded in their walls based on their locations. Participating stores will encourage people to plant the cups themselves or to return them to be planted by the company.
More info: | Kickstarter
   We have developed a post-consumer paper based cup which will be able to extract over 1 ton of CO2 out of the atmosphere annually once planted. We have taken those fibers from local recycling centers, which would usually be too rough to implement back into a packaging product, and created a cup that we are happy to truly name the most eco-friendly disposable coffee cup. If you decide to throw away and not plant, no problem. The cup is compost certified and will be able to biodegrade within 180 days leaving the seeds and cup itself to turn into nutrients for other plants to enjoy!
  The consumer drinks their coffee from the coffee shop. If they choose to take the cup with them, they can plant it in several scenarios based off of the seed variety embedded within the cup.
   They can see the seed variety displayed on the front of their cup as well as planting instructions on the bottom of the cup. Unravel the cup, soak in water for 5 minutes and watch grow!
   If the consumer decides to discard the cup, they can place the cup in a special trash can where Reduce. Reuse. Grow. (or third parties) can come in and take the cups for local reforestation purposes.
   Reforestation locations can be anything from small community projects to State or National parks where fires, over grazing or other habitat destruction has happened and additional native planting are needed in order to replenish those areas!

submitted by Christine Coleman

Coffee and Spice Rubbed Salmon Tacos
By fiveandspice • 

  • 2 pounds of salmon fillets, skin on, center cut, about an inch thick
  • teaspoons finely ground 100% Kona coffee
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8-12 small tortillas, corn or flour – your preference
  • Red cabbage mix – see below 
  1. Pat your salmon fillets dry with a paper towel. In a small bowl mix together all of the the seasonings (coffee through black pepper). Then, stir in the olive oil. Use a brush to brush this spice mixture all over the tops of the salmon fillets.
  2. Grill the salmon fillets skin side down on a well oiled hot grill and cook just until it flakes easily with a fork (the timing will depend a lot on your particular cuts of fish, mine took about 8 minutes). Alternatively, you can broil the salmon just until it flakes easily with a fork. Remove from the heat.
  3. Use a spatula to lift the salmon pieces off of their skins and onto a serving platter. Break them into chunks. 
  4. Quickly warm your tortillas. Then, serve the salmon in the tortillas topped with the avocado salsa and cabbage. (It’s easiest to just let everyone assemble their own.) Just add some cervezas or margaritas and dinner is complete!


  • 2 tomatillos, husks removed
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed (unless you want some extra heat) and diced
  • ¼ cup plus 1 Tbs. chopped cilantro, divided
  • 1 lime, juiced, divided
  • 1 ripe Haas avocado
  • 5 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
  • Sea salt
  1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and add the tomatillos. Simmer about 3 minutes – they’ll turn sort of olive green. Remove from the water and allow to cool for a little bit. Then, chop them up.
  2. In a food processor, process together the tomatillo, onion, jalapeno, 1 Tbs. cilantro, and half of the lime juice, until fairly smooth. Then, pulse in the avocado – you can process it in until you have a smooth sauce or leave it a little chunky, depending on your preference. Season with salt to taste. Set aside……or use any toppings that you prefer on tacos. Such as tomatoes, olives, sour cream, guacamole…..
    –Submitted by Anita Kelleher

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