Coffee in Paradise – A Hawaiian Coffee Primer

Grown in the only state in the US that commercially produces coffee, Hawaiian coffee is some of the most sought after the world over. Here at CoffeeAM we offer both Kona and Maui. But, other than price, what’s the difference between them? Let’s find out!

hawaiian islands coffee

Where It’s Grown

Remember, Hawaii is made up of a string of islands in the Pacific Ocean. So, saying a certain coffee is from Hawaii is only the tip of the iceberg. In addition to The Big Island and Maui, there are also coffees from Kauai, Molokai, and Oahu. We will be focusing on the two Hawaiian coffees in our portfolio… Kona, from The Big Island, and Maui from Maui.

Maui coffee is grown on over 30 farms on the island of Maui. Dotted along the slopes of the West Mau Mountains and Haleakala, 

Kona coffee comes from The Big Island. There are over 600 farms, found nestled on the steep slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualalai, producing this extremely popular coffee.

History of Coffee in Hawaii

Coffee came to the Pacific paradise in the early 19th century. Trees from Brazil were transported on British ships and planted on Oahu. They were then spread to the other islands with the first true coffee plantation built on the North Shore on Kauai.

The rise of sugar in the islands almost killed the Hawaiian coffee trade as many coffee farms were replaced with sugar cane. The rise of coffee’s popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as the desire for something more unique, helped to solidify the Hawaiian coffee trade.

Growing Conditions

It’s no secret that the Hawaiian Islands are the product of volcanic activity. The volcanic soil that the coffee trees are grown in is chock full of rich nutrients and minerals. The tropical islands provide plenty of sunlight for the trees to flourish while the ocean breezes and frequent rain showers temper the heat of the sun creating a perfect balance. 

The coffee farms on the Hawaiian islands are found high on the slopes of the beautiful mountains and volcanoes. However, this mountainous geography is not nearly as high as some other coffee-growing regions in the world. Because of this, Hawaiian coffee tends to have an extremely mild flavor and low acidity.

Coffeea Arabica

Both Kona and Maui coffees are pure, 100% coffeea arabica. Their names are derived from the districts in which they are grown. Only coffee grown in the very specific areas of Kona and Maui can be called as such.

Let’s Talk About Taste

Now that we have a little history of these unique coffees, it’s time to talk about how they taste. We’ll start with our Maui coffees. There are three varieties of Maui coffees to choose from in the CoffeeAM collection. Hawaiian Maui Mokka, Hawaiian Yellow Caturra, and Maui Red Catuai.

Hawaiian Maui Mokka

A cultivar of the original coffees found in Yemen (the birthplace of coffee), Maui Mokka is an exceptional coffee. The coffee trees yield an incredibly small bean which is then dry processed in the Hawaiian sun giving it a uniquely strong and spicy flavor. You will enjoy delightful notes of dark chocolate blended with spicy-sweet notes and a crisp, smooth finish.

Maui Yellow Caturra

When ripe, this extremely unique coffee bean has a bright yellow cherry rather than the typically traditional red color of most coffees. Our Maui Yellow Caturra is full-bodied and smooth with spicy notes of cinnamon and allspice and a rich finish.

Maui Red Catuai

A cross between Maui Yellow Caturra and Mundo Novo, our Maui Red Catuai has a wide flavor profile. This flavorful and aromatic bean features rich notes reminiscent of a burgundy wine and is sometimes referred to as the “cabernet of coffee.” Bright grapefruit notes are tempered with a buttery texture and slight spiciness.

Hawaiian Kona

Full flavored and well-balanced, our Hawaiian Kona ‘Volcanic Estate’ is the epitome of Kona coffee. Extremely smooth with rich chocolate and sweet fruity undertones, our Kona is vibrant and smooth, yielding a cup of coffee that’s hard to beat.

If you want to try these Hawaiian beauties but just don’t know where to start, try our Hawaiian Coffee Sampler. We include a half pound of each of our Hawaiian single-origin coffees, Maui Mokka, Maui Yellow Caturra, Maui Red Cataui, and Kona ‘Volcanic Estate’. Have an event coming up? Add a unique twist and have a coffee tasting. For a how-to, check out our coffee tasting posts.

Enjoy and aloha!

2 comments on “Coffee in Paradise – A Hawaiian Coffee Primer

  1. Hugo Blasdel says:

    Coffee grown in California is on the market. The growers who have spent many years maturing their trees to a first crop would not appreciate the oversight. It may exceed your pay grade at $65 for 12 oz. and it may be sold only direct to brewer rather than via thirds parties.

    • Colleen says:

      Thank you for the head’s up! Though I’m fairly certain the California coffee growers would understand that they are not currently on our radar. They admit their production is years away from being viable for mass sales.

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