Learning to Cup in Hawaii: The Kona Cultural Coffee Festival and the HCA Coffee Competition

Posted on July 12th, 2019

Cafe Imports’ sensory analysis director, Ian Fretheim, is so curious about cupping that he’ll happily travel to the most remote place in the world to study it. Of course, it helps that the world’s most remote landmass also happens to be a coffee-producing region, as well as one of the most objectively beautiful places in the United States of America: Hawaii. Ian was’t interested in surfing or exploring volcanoes, though, as he was in Kona for the Kona Coffee Festival and to serve as head judge in the 2019 Hawaiian Coffee Association Cupping Competition.
Ian is a big-picture, big-thinking type of coffee person, and so he offers a big reflection on not only the state and perception of Hawaiian coffee in general, but also the cupping methodology and standards that were specifically applied in the HCA contest. Click through to spend some time inside the mind of Ian Fretheim, and we think you’ll come out of the piece with some new thoughts about Hawaiian coffee, as well as some questions about the ways the specialty-coffee industry agrees (or disagrees) about “the right way” to cup coffee.