Morimoto is coffee fest’s top pick: Kona event changes leadership, moves forward

Kona is coffee. So it’s only appropriate there’s a 10-day festival full to the rim with more than 40 events celebrating the famous bean.

The 42nd annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival begins Nov. 2 and runs through Nov. 11, with the theme, “Kona Coffee — 100 percent gourmet.”

“Kona’s world-famous coffee is smooth and, quite frankly, the best-tasting coffee I know of,” said Mel Morimoto, the festival’s new president and a third-generation Kona resident who lives on the coffee farm his parents sowed 57 years ago. “Each bean is hand-picked, taking only the ripe cherries, leaving others to ripen. This takes patience and lots of love. You can certainly taste it in each cup of Kona coffee.”

Appointed in March, Morimoto said it’s a privilege to take over as festival president, especially following the steadfast leadership of Norman Sakata, one of the longest-serving, most dedicated festival volunteers. Sakata’s presidency lasted 19 years, but he’s volunteered for nearly 40 years. He remains the chairman of the board and is the official spokesman for the festival, sharing his invaluable knowledge.

Morimoto has been involved in the festival since 1999, when he acted as liaison between the festival and the Kona Coffee Living History Farm. Over the years, he was elected to the board of directors and served as the first vice president, and organized the Aloha Makahiki Concert and the parade.