Pono Collective is developed to be rooted in education and engagement.
Pono Collective is a community and educational cooperative, that was established by Savor Brands, Title Sponsor of the World Coffee Roasting Championship and the US Coffee Roasting Championship. With its mission to showcase the coffee value chain from a holistic approach, students engage and connect with industry leaders from Hawai‘i’s coffee community. These opportunities help them discover new ways to utilize their culinary education that goes beyond the kitchen forming connections in other fields such as agriculture, science, and business.
Pono Collective students and teachers pose for a photo on coffee farm

Pono Collective Group at Honolulu Coffee's farm in Kona, Hawai'i.

What began as a pilot project in 2022, Pono Collective’s partnership with Kapi‘olani Community College’s Culinary Innovation Center is now offered as a 1-credit course to its students in the culinary department.
  • This semester, 13 culinary students registered for this intense four-day course.
  • From January 12 to 15, 2024, Pono Collective took place on O‘ahu and Hawai‘i Island where students connected with coffee growers, sensory specialists, roasters, and baristas experiencing the coffee value chain from seed-to-cup.
The Pono Collective was very fortunate to host Andrew Coe, the 2023 US Coffee Roasting Champion. Andrew also represented the United States at the World Coffee Roasting Championship in Taipei, Taiwan this past November where he placed third, the highest ranking ever for a US Roasting Competitor. Also joining the Pono Collective this semester was Mehmet Sogan, owner of Memli Coffee Lab out of San Diego, California.
Pono Collective students on a coffee farm tour

Tim Gugudan (Director of Quality and Education) leads a cupping session with students at Honolulu Coffee's farm in Kona, Hawai'i.

"I love coffee but getting to learn so much more about it, has expanded our education and our knowledge about how much goes into it from everything the farmers do, to processing the beans, and roasting them." - Aaron Johnsen (KCC Culinary Student)

Madeleine Longoria Garcia welcomes students to Pacific Coffee Research.

"Learning about the different farmers and how they dealt with pesticides, different diseases, and how they overcame that and dealing with bureaucracy and local state departments - it made me think differently about coffee. All the effort that is needed, I definitely appreciate coffee more." - Yoshi Tanaka (KCC Culinary Student)

Eric Musil of Pacific Coffee Research talks to students about roasting.

"Reflecting on our incredible journey to the Big Island last weekend, where the world of coffee came alive in ways we never imagined. From visiting Hawai’i coffee farms and farmers, witnessing the intricate stages of coffee production and processing, to meeting inspiring industry peers, every moment was a learning experience. We gained a newfound appreciation for the tireless coffee farmers whose dedication brews our daily cups. Grateful for insights into biodiversity preservation, the challenges facing coffee plants, sustainable farming and community support initiatives. It was more than a trip; it was a deep dive into the heart of coffee. 🌱" - Vincent Pōhaku & Kelsie Mercado-Uehara (owners of Drip Coffee Studio)
Vincent with KCC students

Vincent Pōhaku of Drip Studio HNL teaches students manual brewing techniques.

During their visit with Pacific Coffee Research, the Pono Collective was led through an informal coffee cupping of Hawaiʻi-grown coffees with Madeleine and Alakaʻi; they even got to taste some spiked defects in one or two of the samples and learned where those might come from. The students also spent half of their visit on a PCR facility and farm tour of Makani Kai Pacific Farm with Eric. This group of 30 guests was probably the largest we've ever hosted on-site at one time! The afternoon was so much fun and we had a great time learning and experiencing new things together. We always enjoy leading a group with varied backgrounds in a shared coffee experience. Whether they are seasoned coffee professionals, casual coffee drinkers, or rarely ever touch coffee - we always learn something new from each other! - Madeleine Longoria Garcia (Co-Owner of Pacific Coffee Research)
Pacific Coffee Research Alaka'i Kapanui and Madeleine Longoria Garcia

Alaka'i Kapanui (Head Roaster) and Madeleine Longoria Garcia (Co-Owner) prepping a cupping session at Pacific Coffee Research for the Pono Collective group.

"The experience was really positive, and I loved seeing the engagement the culinary students had with our partners: Mehmet and Andrew. They felt very comfortable in asking questions and for more details to the topics being taught. What I found interesting is that people would gravitate towards the educator or one of our partners to ask questions. A lot of the feedback that I saw was that students were just amazed at the process, and it really enlightened them on how much it takes to run a farm and why it is so expensive. Before, they didn't realize the amount of work it takes. Just being able to follow that journey with the students, from realizing all the different segments and what it takes from the labor, land, production, and to being able to make connections with the people that do this kind of work was amazing." - Tessa Ahsing (Regional Customer Success Manager - Hawai'i at Savor Brands)

Tessa Ahsing of Savor Brands experiencing the aroma of different coffees.

"For a long time, we believed in bridging the gap between culinary arts and specialty coffee, the Pono Collective did it." - Mehmet Sogan (owner of Memli Coffee Lab) Check out Mehmet's full reflection here.
Mehmet - owner of Memli Coffee Lab

Mehmet Sogan (owner of Memli Coffee Lab) learns about roasting at Big Island Coffee Roasters.

"There's a great, strong specialty coffee scene here, particularly here in O'ahu. There's some great shops and roasters. And also on the Big Island - that I got to meet and it was amazing to spend some time getting to know the community here." - Andrew Coe (Co-Owner of Elevator Coffee, 2023 US Roasting Champion, and 2023 3rd Place winner of the World of Coffee Roaster Competition) Check out Andrew's full reflection here.
Andrew Coe - co-owner of Elevator Coffee

Andrew Coe (co-owner of Elevator Coffee) and Brandon Damitz (co-owner of Big Island Coffee Roasters) discuss roasting and milling techniques.

Pono Collective will return soon to introduce a new group of students to the Hawai‘i coffee community presenting new and engaging topics. Until then, mahalo nui loa to Honolulu Coffee Company, Pacific Coffee Research, Silver Cloud Coffee Farm, Big Island Coffee Roasters, Drip Studio HNL, Tradition Coffee Roasters, Andrew Coe, and Mehmet Sogan for sharing your knowledge and helping to shape the future of coffee here in Hawai‘i and beyond. **Mahalo nui loa is Hawaiian for thank you very much

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