Kona and the Naked Truth

Is there a hint of Brazil in your Kona? A tinge of Colombia? Eleven naked ladies want you to know that the answer is probably yes. The ladies are all members of the Kona Coffee Farmers Association, all over 50 and all pictured in the buff in “The Naked Truth About 100% Kona Coffee”. The calendar project, conceived by Mary Lou Moss, is based on a fund raising idea that became the 2003 movie, Calendar Girls.

Unlike the calendar in the movie, the Naked Truth is meant to raise more than money. The ladies want to raise awareness about Kona coffee, especially among Hawaiian legislators. The Kona Coffee Farmers Association are campaigning hard to get laws passed that will help promote Kona coffee and preserve the use of the name.

Currently, Hawaiian law regulates what coffee can be labeled ‘Kona coffee’. Only coffee that is grown in the South Kona district of the island of Hawaii (the Big Island) can legally be labeled Kona coffee. However, Hawaiian law allows any coffee that contains at least 10% Kona coffee by weight to be called “Kona blend” or “Kona coffee blend”.

The Kona Coffee Farmers Association wants that changed. According to the association’s 2006 position paper regarding the 10% blend rule, the current policy damages the reputation of Kona coffee, and damages their economic standing. As evidence, the position paper cites a Consumer Reports article that judged ‘some Kona coffees can be second rate” based on flavor tests of 10% Kona blends.

The issue, they say, is one of deceptive labeling and mistaken perception. Surveys of customers have shown that most consumers believe that “Kona blend” coffees are blends of Kona coffee beans. In reality, most Kona blends mix the required 10% Kona beans with cheaper Brazilian or Colombian beans. And, says the association, that 10% isn’t enough to make an appreciable difference in flavor.

The message that they want to send with their calendar is one of political activism. It’s all part of their campaign to get the Hawaiian legislature to amend the regulations regarding Kona blends. They want the rules changed so that only coffees that include at least 75% Kona by weight can use the Kona name.

That message was important enough to the eleven women that they decided to put aside their modesty to pose nude for the calendar. The photos, described as tasteful, ‘suggest everything but reveal nothing” according to Mary Lou Moss, who initiated the project.

Despite their age, the women are getting many compliments, though the calendar “suggests everything but reveals nothing,” said Mary Lou Moss, who initiated the project. Despite the women’s own insecurities about baring all for the calendar, it’s being well-received. The first printing of 1,000 calendars sold out quickly, and they’re ordering a second printing to accommodate backorders.

The women aren’t professional models. Each of the eleven is a full member of the Kona Coffee Farmer’s Association, an organization that requires ownership of a working Kona coffee farm. They’re working women, and the photos show them in the act of working… in the nude. The calendar is available at www.konacoffeefarmers.org for just $12 with wholesale pricing available.

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