September 18, 2018
Home < KCFA Business < Intimidation?


The Hawaii County Council on October 15 unanimously adopted Resolution No. 501-14 requesting the Legislature to raise the minimum Hawaii-grown content in coffee blends to 51% and to require disclosure of the origin of foreign-grown coffee on the label.
In reaction, Hawaii Coffee Company (Hawaii’s largest coffee blender) in November sent the following communication to Kona farmers who in the past have sold it coffee cherry:   


HCC letter to Farmers


 and suggesting the following (including the 2 stamped envelopes)HCC suggested testimony to send to Legis.with stamped envelope (1)

NOTE: That by requesting that signed copies be returned to it, Hawaii Coffee Company will have a record of which cherry farmers complied and which did not.
After the mailing of the Hawaii Coffee Company communication, KCFA Board members have been contacted by a number of cherry farmers saying that they fully support the changes requested by the Hawaii County Council’s Resolution.  HOWEVER, they also have indicated that they will not be publicly stating that support because of concern that they may be blackballed by the processors–and left without a market for their cherry.
We recognize and appreciate the dilemma of cherry farmers who face a market with a limited number of buyers for their crop.  We also recognize that many cherry farmers know full well that 10% blends damage the reputation of Kona coffee and reduce prices paid for their coffee cherry. 

We’re asking you to Sign our Petition! here:


  1. This is not intimidation, this is coercion.
    THIS CAN BE A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR SOME OF THE BIG PROCESSORS TO “ACQUIRE” NEW FARMS. As we should all be aware, there is often very significant competition among processors. There are well over a dozen (is it 18 ??) in the Kona Area, and may may well be eager to buy. START CALLING AROUND AND BEAT THE BLENDERS AT THEIR OWN GAME.
    The sorry old notion that changing the label requirement would have “adverse effect on OUR (!!!) farmers” is a dead duck. Often repeated is the talking point (among big processors) that “if it were not for the blenders, farmers would be left to sit on the lower (cheaper) grades of coffee”. Bullock! Coffee processors buy CHERRY, and not “lower grades” of (green bean) coffee. What would processors do with lower grade coffee? Sell it as Prime, or Kona #1. If the processors have even lower grades in mind, “XXX” can only be sold as “Hawaii #3”, and “OG” (off grade) must never be sold as as Hawaiian coffee at all. Speaking about Truth in Labeling: How about some Truth, period?

  2. To the farmers:

    I live on what you call “the mainland”, although do not care for the moniker. I tell you plainly; the blenders have heavily damaged you here, to the point that the average consumer no longer believes in a superiority of HI coffees. Even I, as a member of the worldwide Coffee Professionals and in the specialty coffee business am unwilling to search a label to find if I am considering purchase of the real thing.

    Blenders? Cheap scare tactics. Simply look at other industries. Budweiser keeps losing market share to decent beers, beers priced at a few dollars higher per 6-pack. Budweiser even bought several microbreweries, implemented Bud tactics, and destroyed those. Almost a direct parallel to what the blenders have done/are doing to you.

    Porsche tried diluting their product line with the 914. It failed and damaged their image. Cadillac tried the Cimarron – a dismal failure that heavily damaged the Cadillac name, a damage they have only just recently recovered from. Ferrari tried a couple of very poor, cheap offerings somewhere around the early 80’s – same result.

    Bentley does not offer a 1/2 price car. Simply not possible to do so and maintain the quality the market expects.

    If you give in to the coercion and bullying of the blenders, you will suffer the same result as those noted above and can be repeated throughout marketing history, a result that must eventually lead to destruction of what is plainly some of the greatest coffee ever offered in the world.

    I have no economic interest whatsoever in telling you this.

    • Carlton thank you. Because you are a worldwide Coffee Professional and in the specialty coffee business, would you let your like-minded associates or even friends- know that we are actively looking for signatures on our Petition? They could go here: and add their names. Our Legislature begins next week and we need all the help we can get! Mahalo!

  3. As a coffee industry professional in Hawaii, I also share your fear of reprisal. There are many excellent Kona coffees out there, and we need to bring it to market. How about n auction system like in Kenya?

    • Probably a great idea but we do not have time to invent a whole new system now, after more than 175 years of having the Kona Coffee system in place. mahalo

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