I am sitting on the lanai of the Keauhou Beach Resort on Big Island. On one side of me, turtles lounge in tide pools and the Pacific Ocean sweeps beyond the horizon. On the other side, five very serious people wearing aprons slurp, swoosh and spit. Loudly. It’s like a contest for who can make the most noise. You might think I am watching–and listening to–children, but these are adults. They’re carrying on this way, because they are judges for the annual Kona Coffee Cupping Competition. And slurping-swooshing-spitting is the technique for evaluating coffee for its aroma, body, flavor, acidity, sweetness and aftertaste.
There are 56 entrants in the “classic” competition, made up mostly of smaller coffee farmers, and 12 in the “crown” competition, made up of larger growers. The judges will spend two full days “cupping.” That is, slurping, swooshing and spitting.
I am here witnessing the event on behalf of OutriggerHawaii.com. And here’s the kicker: I don’t like coffee.
Do you like coffee? More specifically, do you like Kona coffee? And do you have a favorite grower? Let me know. There’s always a chance coffee is an acquired taste; maybe if I find the right cup, I’ll learn to like it.