Hawaii Island Coffee Farmer Earns Prestigious Accolades

Kelleigh Stewart, co-founder of Big Island Coffee Roasters, achieves elite coffee Q Grader license and is also named one of Hawaii's top business leaders.

Press Release (ePRNews.com) - HILO, Hawaii - Jul 17, 2017 - Summer is typically a slow time on Hawaii coffee farms, but things have been percolating at Big Island Coffee Roasters where co-founder Kelleigh Stewart has earned a prestigious industry license and been named one of Hawaii’s top young business leaders.

Receives elite coffee license

The Coffee Quality Institute recently licensed Stewart as an Arabica Coffee Q Grader. Established in 2004, the Q Grader program is tasked with building a cadre of licensed coffee cuppers around the globe trained to identify attributes, defects, and score coffees consistently. Licensed Q Graders are qualified to judge cupping competitions worldwide, and classify a coffee as specialty or commercial with specialty grade being among the highest quality in the world.

By using a universal system of scoring specialty coffees, Q Graders can communicate to farmers how they can improve the quality of their coffees, and effectively relay a coffee’s attributes to buyers.

The Mountain View resident underwent rigorous testing at Atlas Coffee Lab in Seattle, Washington, a lab approved by the Specialty Coffee Association. Tests included blind identification of 32 scents found in coffee, green coffee grading, cupping tests, defect recognition, sensory identification of acids found in coffees, etc.

Although coffee is one of the leading agricultural industries in Hawaii, generating $48.8 million in sales annually, according to the Coffee Quality Institute, there are just five licensed Q Graders in Hawaii, with Stewart becoming the sixth Hawaii resident to achieve this elite industry achievement.

Stewart’s Q Grader license is a natural extension of her efforts to support and improve Hawaii’s specialty coffee industry and is all the more impressive considering the obstacles she has overcome. She and her husband, Brandon von Damitz, knew very little about coffee when they bought a run-down coffee farm in Puna in 2010. Through hard work and sheer determination, they’ve built an internationally recognized coffee company that’s integrated to encompass everything from farming to roasting, garnering critical acclaim and awards along the way.

Since moving to the Big Island, Stewart has helped improve the quality of neighboring coffee farmers in East Hawaii – even though those farmers are her competitors. In 2013, she received a grant to purchase coffee grading equipment that helped improve the quality of coffee grown in Puna. The youngest member to join the statewide Hawaii Coffee Association board of directors, Stewart has worked diligently to improve the sustainability of Hawaii’s coffee market by uniting Hawaii’s coffee farmers under shared missions, providing guidance on best practices, and helping to build a reputation for specialty coffees in Hawaii.

Named one of Top 40 business leaders in Hawaii

Given her dedication to improving the coffee industry as a whole while simultaneously growing her own business into a million dollar enterprise, it’s easy to see why Stewart was recently named one of the top business leaders in Hawaii and honored as one of Pacific Business News’ prestigious Top 40 Under 40.

Coffee industry leaders across Hawaii cite Stewart’s tireless efforts to improve the marketability and quality of coffee grown in east Hawaii. Indeed, Chris Manfredi, Hawaii Farm Bureau past president, praised Stewart as “the best of her generation.”

“This has been such a surprise and gift,” says Stewart of her Top 40 Under 40 award. “I love finding solutions to problems, and to me, this honor means I’m on the right track. It’s been a privilege to work in this community and celebrate Hawaii through coffee. I look forward to growing relationships within the business and agricultural communities in the coming years.”

About Big Island Coffee Roasters:

Based in the jungles of Puna on Hawaii Island, Big Island Coffee Roasters is a grower, roaster, and micro-mill of award-winning Hawaiian coffees. They offer the widest diversity of specialty Hawaiian coffees worldwide, to wholesale and retail customers.

Their dedication to providing the best possible local coffees has resulted in owners Brandon von Damitz and Kelleigh Stewart receiving several prestigious awards, includingbeing named 2013 Grand Champion of the Hawaii Statewide Cupping Competition – the first coffee outside of Kona or Ka’u to receive such an honor. Explore their current selection of coffees and learn more about what they do at bigislandcoffeeroasters.com (https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fbigislandcoff…).

Source : Big Island Coffee Roasters

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