ACE announces winners of first Isla Hawaii auction

Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) in partnership with the Isla Custom Coffees has announced the 16 winning coffees for the first-ever Isla Hawaii Private Collection Auction. The winners, 12 of which were yeast-ferment processed, represent 11 farms, six processes, five varieties and two organic certified coffees.

The first-place winning coffee, a washed, yeast-fermented SL34 coffee from Kona Farm Direct, scored 88.38 points. Producers Kraig and Leslie Lee fermented the coffee with a wine yeast strain selected to enhance the coffee’s acidity and tropical fruit character. Kraig Lee also manages several other farms in the Holuanola area which placed in the competition including Uluwehi Farm, which took third place with a yeast-fermented, anaerobic washed Red Bourbon and Noelani Farm, which placed 14th with a yeast-fermented washted Typica.

“We’re thrilled to see processing innovations and newly planted varieties rewarded by judges around the world. We hope this auction will allow our global industry to experience the quality and diversity of coffees possible from Hawaii,” said Kraig Lee.

The winning lots from the competition showcase innovative processing methods along with the best of lots traditional washed coffees. Black Rock Farm from Kona produced the most winners, with four lots, two of which placed in the top five. The top seven coffees are all yeast fermented coffees utilising different strains of wine yeasts while the top 10 coffees are recent planting of varieties selected for cup quality.

“As head judge I was able to cup these coffees multiple times and each time I had my eyes opened for what was possible in Hawaiian coffee. These unique process coffees exceeded my past experience of Hawaiian coffee and will delight your senses and change your mind for what you thought was possible on the Isles,” commented Scott Conary, head judge of the Isla Hawaii Private Collection Auction and owner of Carborro Coffee in the USA. “These are the complex fruit flavours every tourist wishes they could take home with them from their trip – from juicy stone fruit to tangy tropical fruits, all sweet and very transparent in their character.”

After almost a decade of sourcing Hawaiian specialty coffees for clients, Isla Custom Coffees has a deep network of farmers throughout the islands — and a track record of developing top-scoring beans in domestic and international cupping competitions. For the ACE Private Collection Auction, Isla worked with about 15 of its best producers, including winners in the Roaster’s Guild Coffees of the Year Competitions (COTY), the Hawaii Coffee Association’s cupping competitions, and the Kona Coffee Festival Cupping Competitions. The Isla team was also involved in 12 of the 16 winning coffees, helping to develop lots made exclusively for the auction.

“The coffees were delicious with a balance of fruit and nut flavours. In particular the taste of macadamia nuts was clear,” said jurist Hitomi Shima of Maruyama Coffee in Japan.

The competition had 20 coffees passing to the International stage, which represented seven companies from around the world.

Sample sets of the winners are available for purchase. Lot sizes range from 50 to 300lbs. Opening prices start at $30 for scores 86 points and above and $24 for scores 85 points and above. The auction will take place on Thursday 25 March.

For more information about the programme and auction, visit:

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