Japanese American National Museum
Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - February 1, 1997

Chris Komai - - 213-830-5648

Nothing But The Real Thing, Baby: 100% Kona Coffee At The Japanese American National Museum

Los Angeles

For all those coffee connoisseurs who feel defrauded by the recent allegations that a major Kona coffee distributor has been actually passing off inferior quality beans from Central America as the real taste of Hawai‘i, the Japanese American National Museum is featuring authentic Kona coffee in its upcoming exhibit, The Kona Coffee Story: Along the Hawai‘i Belt Road.

Kona Kai Farms, one of the biggest brokers of Kona coffee beans in the Western United States, and a nationwide supplier to coffee houses such as Starbucks and Peet’s, has been charged by the U.S. attorney’s office in a bean swapping scam allegedly begun in the late 1980s. The far reaching effects of this fraud would seem to indicate that consumers who had believed they were drinking the high quality Kona coffee have never actually even tasted it. In fact, fraud aside, even what is legitimately sold as “Kona” coffee is usually a blend often containing no more that ten percent of Kona grown beans.

The Kona Coffee Story: Along the Hawai‘i Belt Road, scheduled to open at the Japanese American National Museum on February 8, 1997, and created in collaboration with the Kona coffee community, provides an opportunity for the public to taste 100% authentic Kona coffee. The exhibit, which celebrates the history and tradition of Kona coffee, will provide free tastes of the real thing to Museum visitors.

Kona coffee is unique in the way it is grown and cultivated. Produced on family run farms since the turn of the century, Kona coffee beans are hand picked and sorted to ensure its superior taste and quality. Unlike other coffee exporters who depend on machines and modern equipment for their success, the farmers of Kona coffee have made the traditional method of growing beans central to their culture and way of life.

Japanese Americans have been central in building this particular industry and the Museum worked in collaboration with the people of Kona in creating this traveling exhibition which drew record crowds at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. Through this partnership, the Kona coffee growers have the opportunity to tell their own story.

Along with free samples of coffee, the Japanese American National Museum will be offering a variety of public programs, including a coffee “cupping&rquo;, a traditional coffee basket making workshop, as well as a variety of public programs featuring Hawaiian games, music, and dance. 100% Kona coffee is also currently available in the Museum Store for those who would like to experience it before the opening of the exhibit.

The Kona Coffee Story: Along the Hawai‘i Belt Road can be seen at the Japanese American National Museum at 369 East First Street in Los Angeles Little Tokyo from February 8 through June 9, 1997. Please call the Museum at 213.625.0414 for more information.



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