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Kona Coffee, The Taste of Hawaii in a Cup

Dave Carter

January 31, 2020

You might be already familiar with names such as Champagne as French sparkling wine, and Manchego as Spanish cheese.

However, you might not be familiar with what these names mean in terms of origin and what goes with those names. One thing that they signify is that these products can only be called Champagne and Manchego if they indeed came from their designated place of origin.

The same principle is applied to genuine beans and roast.​

Hawaiian law explicitly says that any coffee product labeled with the 100 Kona coffee must be made with at least 10% certified Kona beans. However, there are purported coffee companies that exploit this rule by selling coffee products that contain no more than exactly 10% of genuine Kona coffee.

However, with such a product, you will not certainly get more than 10% of the real deal in your brew. They are usually blended with roast beans coming from Indonesia, Central America, Brazil, and Africa. The worst you can get is a product bereft of the dignity - with a very small amount of 100 Kona coffee bean or none at all.

One way to make sure you get the real product is to buy from the source and look for those labeled as 100 Kona Coffee.

Don't bother buying other kona blends unless you know what you are getting and fully accept the fact that the package you are getting might contain beans other than Royal Kona coffee beans.

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What is so special about Kona coffee?​

The question to ask, however, is, what is not special with this kind of coffee? It is known the world over as having a pleasing aroma and full body.

Kona coffee has this quality due to being planted and cultivated in the slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualalai volcanoes, known for their morning sunshine, afternoon rain with cloud cover, and rich volcanic soil.

Both mountains are located in the North and South Kona districts in the Big Island of Hawaii, and only beans produced in those areas can be designated as local and true.

The beans are hand-picked only when ripe. Large beans mean better quality. They are pulped, dried, hulled, and later sorted into different grades in the mill. About 5% to 10% of the beans harvested is identified as "Peabody" which produces a more concentrated roast flavor.

kona coffee

Why is Kona coffee so expensive?​

While this Hawaii coffee is fair trade, according to the Kona Coffee Council, Hawaii Kona coffee remains expensive mainly because of labor cost.

This variety is grown commercially, but only the ripe beans are chosen to be hand-picked. As not all beans ripen at the same time, bean pickers must work several times during a given season, which practically means all year round.

Most other countries pick their beans using mechanical machines, which usually results in inferior products. Machines shake the trees to let all the beans fall, both ripe, over-ripe and under-ripe ones, and not distinguishing small ones from big ones.

The resulting product although easier to make from bean to cups is certainly inferior even as it is cheaper to produce.

The Kona region best suited for bean-growing is small and the manual harvesting being done by the Hawaii coffee company adds more cost and time and results in a more expensive and extra fancy product. The typical cost of hand-picked beans range from 75 to 85 cents per pound.

Another reason that makes Kona blends expensive is its rarity. This means that Kona coffee beans production is only about 1% of the total coffee production worldwide.

What is the best 100% Kona coffee?​

Not many people around the world have experienced the joy of sipping a Kona cup of coffee, and if you are one of those who haven't tried their dark roast yet, then prepare yourself for an exquisite roasted taste of Kona gourmet coffee.

However, not all royal Kona brew sold, whether in Hawaii or any other place in the world is equal. To truly enjoy authentic Kona coffee, you have to know what makes up the best 100% Kona coffee.

However, many coffees labeled "Kona" is, in fact, fake or doesn't contain even an iota of Kona beans at all. To make sure that you get the authentic 100% Kona coffee experience, you can follow a few rules of thumb.

First, buy directly from a farm as this eliminates one possibility of a product being mislabeled.

You can also ask where your Kona beans came from the farmer who grows and sells Kona beans and have it in private reserve.

This question is important because some farmers in other regions bring their produce to Kona, hoping to get a higher price.

Another indication, even if it is not entirely reliable, is the price. Pure, genuine roasted Kona coffee will sell for much more because of high production cost, as from harvesting alone cost much more than other blend anywhere in the world.

What is a Kona blend coffee?​

To set our ideas right, only Kona company coffees grown from the Kona region in Hawaii can be called Kona coffee.

Remember Champagne? However, ​the kona company permits the blending of pure Kona beans in the minimum amount of 10% with beans from other sources such as Asia, Africa, and South America. This is an important distinction since Kona's provenance and grade is protected and certified.

They sell Kona coffees roasted and blended with other types because the name Kona sells itself, and thus they earn a ton from a local or foreign customer that way. They label their roast as Kona blend even if it doesn't contain a single Kona bean at all and remain legal.

kona coffee

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Enjoying Kona Coffee​

Enjoying a cup of coffee is an acquired taste, even Kona coffee. However, it depends on your taste, much like enjoying an art form that you have grown to love.

​By itself, medium roast blend can be bitter, but with the right way of brewing, timing, the ratio of water to ground coffee, and serving, you can enjoy your cup as it should be. But one thing that Kona roast deserves to be recognized for is its full-bodied flavor and soul-pleasing aroma.

As with other types, there are many ways to brew Kona coffee. And all of them will probably work provided you get freshly roasted beans in which you grind yourself and use your preferred brewing method properly, such as a French press or a fancy espresso machine. As a customer, you can roast it dark or medium, or you drink it black or with frothed milk or even exotic spices, but you will always get that distinctive sensation when drinking Kona.

What is Coffee for the Home​

Most people got their first taste at home, where they have come to set their taste for a medium roast or a dark roast. But whether you started to know the brew through the instant kind or the real one, the idea of what is coffee for you would have been most likely, during the family breakfast.

Brewing for the home can be whatever you want it to be, like as good as the baristas create them or better. You have several options in terms of beans and the various blends available in the market.

Medium roast or dark roast varieties have its flavor notes, aroma, and strength. You also have different types of roast that will deepen your taste buds to help you distinguish various taste profiles.

What are high-end coffee makers​

Through the many years that we have been enjoying the brew, people have invented different brewing methods. The all-time favorite would be the ubiquitous drip machine that every family seems to have at home.

We also have the French press and the pour-over process. For those who can afford, there are espresso machines that can make cappuccinos and lattes. But truth be told, there is no one perfect way to make it as each cup can be made and enjoyed according to each one's personal preference.

You can choose to make your cup using the most basic of methods or using high-end coffee makers right in your own home.

But before you want one and to help you identify which one suits you best, it would be better if you knew your personality – that is, what makes each cup tick for you.

You can be a snob or nerd, a hands-on brewer, or a simple lover who wants to drink plenty of copious amounts all day. Each of these personalities require certain types of beverage makers.

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Convenience of Coffee Pods​

Brewing is an enjoyable experience. It can be as simple as putting grounds on a drip coffee maker that does the job automatically or a pour-over coffee maker that takes a bit more effort to do. Still, there is the espresso machine – the dream coffee equipment for many lovers among us.

Until Nespresso and Keurig came using coffee pods, nobody thought to make it any easier. The two of them have started what we can consider as brand wars - Nespresso vs. Keurig as they have come to be synonymous with quality coffee pod machines.

Nespresso is popular in Europe, and Keurig has grown to call the United States as its turf.

Pods offer the most convenient way to quickly enjoy your favorite brew.

Because pods are usually available as single coffee serving that have their filter and pre-portioned ground coffee, anyone can brew consistently and get the same flavor, aroma, and strength every time they want one cup.


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