Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Controversy brewing over Ironman official coffee

Rep. Clift Tsuji, Chair of the House Agriculture committee, is stepping up to help Kona coffee growers. Yesterday, the Ford Ironman World Championship organization based in Kailua-Kona announced a partnership with Ironman Organic Coffee, the official coffee of the Ironman race. The problem is that the coffee bean used hails from Guatemala, and Kona coffee growers are understandably upset. Not only were they not consulted, but the Ironman is an event that was born in and has been associated with Kona for decades, and Kona produces world-renowned premium coffee. To add insult to injury, the Ironman press release stated,

Recently founded, Ironman Organic Coffee is the creation of Ironman athletes Chris McCrary, Carlos Caicedo and Andres Caicedo. The team of friends realized the need for creating an "ideal" coffee after noticing the market was limited. "Becoming an Ironman takes time, dedication, discipline and accepting nothing, but the best from yourself. Those same characteristics go into every bag of Ironman Organic Coffee. We've spent countless hours ensuring that the beans are as strong as the brand," said McCrary.

Ouch! Rep. Tsuji has asked Ironman to provide an explanation on their java decision.


Ken Love said...

There must be more than meets the eye in Kona. The Ironman had 2 choices, in their decision to market Guatemalan coffee, one, plain stupidity and the other showing a total lack of concern for the Kona mauka community. In either case those who made the decision are condemned to suffer the wrath of the community. Local newspaper polls show that the majority considers Ironman an "inconvenience". Perhaps it's time for Ironman to move on and infect another community leaving Kona at peace.

Rumors abound here in the middle of the coffee belt. People mentioned that they would rethink the purchase of Ford trucks, often used to haul coffee bags from the fields. Others would simply like to see Ford withdraw their sponsorship of the event. Numerous volunteers mention that they will have nothing to do with Ironman this year. Groups forming picket lines at stores featuring the coffee and sign holders condemning Ironman along the Ironman route are also being planned.

The coffee industry should learn from this debacle, for too long we have been divided on issues like blending, marketing and labeling. It remains to be seen if we can pull together over this issue and regain the strength needed to overcome our common obstacles.

Kona's real Ironmen, the coffee pioneers, deserve better. Perhaps the athletes and certainly the Ironman organizers should trade their Speedos for a coffee picking basket and get a better understanding of what life in mauka Kona is really like.

sandwich said...

I think the coffee that's left in the pot at the end of the day here in my office should be the Ironman coffee. You'd need an iron stomach to drink it.