Kona Coffee (Coffee From Hawaii)

Short Answer: Kona Coffee is another name of arabica coffee that grows on Mauna Loa and Hualalai slopes in the south and north Kona district of Hawaii. It’s marketed as Kona, named after the Kona district and the most expensive coffee in the world. 

What makes Kona unique is the combination of perfect weather and volcanic soil which are rich in minerals.

Keep on reading as we explore more about this unique and expensive coffee from Hawaii. 

Kona Coffee History: Harvesting and Processing

roasted coffee beans in a pot

Coffee didn’t grow in Hawaii. Samuel Reverend Ruggles (American lawyer and politician from New York) in 1828 brought coffee from Brazillian cuttings on the island of Hawaii and, from there, the history of Kona coffee started. 

The world coffee market then took off In the 1890s. Europeans and Americans started to invest in Kona coffee and started the era of the large plantations.

August to January is the time of the year in Hawaii when harvesting and processing of Kona coffee take place.

The many labor forces, including farmers and pickers, were hired to collect the red coffee berries that contain the coffee beans. 

The next step is wet milling, first, they pulp the fruit and separate the outer skin from the inner bean. The farmer then dries the beans in the sun. Over time, some machinery gets involved in coffee processing in Kona, but mostly it is manual hard work.

After the dry milling process, farmers get the green beans roasted, package them well, and send them around the globe. And finally, you can make it into your own cup of java. 

What is so special about Kona coffee?

What makes 100% pure Kona coffee is it is distinguished from all other coffees by its unique island microclimate. It is grown on the slopes of two big islands of Hawaii.

On top of extra care of the generation of coffee farmers. The rich volcanic soil, high cloud coverage, and proper temperatures make Kona the ideal place to grow coffee that produces as flawless coffee as possible. 

If you know the process of fine wines, Kona coffee takes the same utmost attention then every step of the processing stage, from handpicking to milling.

What does Kona Coffee taste like? 

Kona coffee releases sweet and fruity flavors during the roasting process. So, if you like light coffee and not bitter, then this one is for you. 

Kona coffee is a highly aromatic coffee. The manufacturer claims they do “just before the 2nd crack” roast. The beans are medium-dark, not burnt. 

The packing is done in airtight containers, and some use the freeze method that maintains the taste and optimizes freshness. 

This method of storing increases the shelf life of whole bean Kona coffee by about two months and grind Kona coffee by about a month. 

Experts suggest buying whole bean form and grinding at home or at a coffee shop just before brewing each pot to get a fresh grind for a perfect cup of coffee.

Always check the label. You can find 100% real Kona but if the package says ‘Kona blend,’ it means it only contains 10% Kona beans, and the rest are coffee beans from Brazil, Central America, Africa, and Indonesia. 

The wise thing is to check out the numerous farms and coffee mills in the Kona Coffee Belt to find the 100% pure blend. 

What is the difference between Kona coffee and regular coffee?

coffee in a grinder

Kona coffee is the same as your regular coffee (arabica bean) but what makes them exclusive is the soil of Kona. 

Regular coffee is of two types Arabica and Robusta. I compared them both in my other article that you can check out here.

Arabica is the most popular, mainly originating back in Ethiopia. Many countries start harvesting coffee plants on their land but mainly import it from Brazil (exports 2,680,515 metric tons of coffee).

Kona coffee is, in fact, arabica beans. The name is only given to it because it’s grown on the high slopes of the Kona island of Hawaii

Arabica coffee is smoother, with hints of chocolate and sugar notes. They also have flavor notes of fruits or berries. Robusta is stronger and bitter, with grainy or rubbery overtones. Then there is Colombian arabica coffee which is known for its lighter notes. 

On the other hand, Kona coffee has a simple but still rich, full-body flavor and delicate aroma. Most people confuse Kona blend as Kona coffee when they are two different coffees altogether. Kona blend only has 10% Kona beans and is considered regular coffee. 

On the other hand, a high-quality 100% Kona coffee has a medium body and well-balanced flavor and brightness through acidity.

Is Kona coffee high in caffeine?

Kona coffee is considered high in caffeine. You will get 54 grams of caffeine in a cup of Kona coffee made of medium roast. 

This is more than your average regular cup of java, which varies between 30mg -50mg. Kona is high in caffeine but not the most caffeinated coffee out there. 

Some types of arabica coffee have a massive caffeine content of 100mg or more.

Refer to the below table to know nutrients facts of Kona Coffee:

Nutritional Facts (serving size:325 ml)Value 
Calories 120 kCal
Total Carbs26g
Suger26g
Protein 2g
Fat1g
Nutrients Facts of Kona Coffee

Why is Kona coffee so expensive?

coffee with a pastel background

Kona coffee is expensive because of three things: full-bodied flavor, a pleasing aroma, and a high labor force involved in harvesting Kona beans. 

Coffee trees from where Kona coffee comes to stand and grow on the excellent slopes of the two mountains of Hawaii, the Hualalai, and Mauna Loa Mountains.

The rich volcanic soil and afternoon cloud cover create a perfect environment and temperature for the production of coffee. Once Kona’s dry winters end, the trees bloom and get harvested in autumn.

When it comes to the labor force, most other countries use a mechanical process to pick coffee which costs 3 cents per pound. At the same time, handpicked Kona coffee costs 75 to 85 cents per pound. 

Another factor that contributes to a high price tag is the availability of Kona coffee. It makes 1% of coffee worldwide, and that’s a tiny number. That’s why you find companies making a blend of 10% Kona coffee and 90% regular coffee to make up for the huge demand. 

Are there any benefits to Kona coffee?

Kona coffee is made of Arabica beans and has a good amount of caffeine. That’s why it provides the same benefits as other regular caffeinated coffee. 

On top of that, you get to taste the rich Hawaii coffee flavor. We know coffee’s health benefits come primarily from the caffeine in it. So caffeine in Kona coffee also improves performance and even helps you burn some fats. It boosts metabolism and gets you energy to get through the day. 

It is also packed with nutrients and antioxidants, like any regular coffee. It contains nutrients including Vitamins B2, B3, and B5, potassium, and manganese that provide many health benefits. 

Even studies show how those who drink coffee daily have a lower risk of developing type II diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. 

Because Kona contains caffeine, it provides many other health benefits such as:

  • Improve Energy Levels and Reaction Times
  • Protect You from Cancer and Stroke
  • Protect Your Liver
  • Fight Depression
  • Promotes Longevity

Wrapping Up

Kona coffee has a rich and more unique flavor than regular coffee and that’s why it’s a must-try for coffee lovers.

Different factors make Kona coffee a bit extravagant. But, for coffee enthusiasts, it’s worth every penny. Also, if we look at the supply and demand of this high-quality coffee along with the standards of FairTrade, Hawaiian Kona coffee is not overpriced.

I can recommend you the following best Kona Coffees in the market if you want to give it a try: Imagine 100% Kona Coffee, Blue Horse 100% Kona coffee, and Hawaii Roasters.

Watch the video below to find out How Millions Of Pounds Of Coffee Are Processed At Hawaiian Coffee Farms by Big Business:

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Matt Marshall

As I learn more and more about coffee and coffee products I want to share all my learnings with you here on this website. I hope you find my articles useful and entertaining to read.

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