Legislation to discourage unscrupulous coffee blenders who exploit a loophole in the legal description of Hawaiian coffee was introduced in the state’s senate in February.
Oahu Sens. Willie Espero and Maile Shimabukuro with Russell Ruderman of Puna, are critical of existing law that permits coffee to carry the name Kona or Ka’u or Hamakua with only 10% coffee from that region. The senate bill would require that at least 51% of the coffee in blends originate in the region and that all geographic regions be listed, in descending order. Some growers prefer a 100% minimum.
“It’s simply requiring honest labeling, like every other product you see,” Ruderman told the West Hawaii Tribune-Herald. “The ingredients are listed in order. Coffee doesn’t follow that rule,” he said.
According to the newspaper the labeling issue centers on Kona blends and has been a source of contention for decades: attempts to create a standard began in the mid-1980s. In 1986, a proposed bill requiring the 10% was vetoed by then-Gov. George Ariyoshi. Five years later, the current standards were approved.