Hawaii is the only US state that produces enough coffee to be commercially viable. That coffee is considered some of the best in the world. This Cafe@Home we're learning about Kona. Hit play on this Hawaiian music playlist and come with us to paradise.
What is Kona Coffee?
Kona coffee is coffea arabica or arabica coffee plants that grow in the Kona Districts on the mountainsides of Mauna Loa and Hualalai on the Big Island of Hawaii in the near-perfect growing conditions found on the slopes of these mountains. The sun-kissed coffee plants grow in the mineral-rich volcanic soil and are cooled by the sea breezes. Combined with afternoon rainfall and mild nights, these conditions produce a coffee that is smooth and flavorful without any bitterness.
⛰ Kona grows on Mauna Loa and Hualalai ⛰
Where did Kona come from?
Coffee was introduced to Hawaii in the early 1800s, first by seedlings brought to the Hawaiian Islands by Don Francisco de Paula Marin. Unfortunately, those seedlings did not thrive and they died off. A few years later, cuttings from Brazilian coffee plants were brought to the islands by Samuel Ruggles which thrived. In the late 1800s, Kona became recognized as a brand when Henry Greenwell, an English merchant, moved to the area and established it as such. Today, you can visit the Kona Living History Farm and the old Greenwell Store museums.
When the coffee market crashed in 1899, the Hawaiian coffee plantations were leased to their workers in small lots of 5 to 12 acres. These were tended by families that had come to Hawaii from Japan to work on sugarcane plantations. These families produced high-quality coffee in high numbers. When sugarcane stopped being profitable in the 1980s, those farms were replanted with coffee. Today, there are around 800 Kona farms smaller than 5 acres that produce around two million pounds of coffee annually.
Grades and Blends of Hawaiian Kona
There are varying grades of Hawaiian Kona that must be adhered to by law.
Type I - like your typical coffee bean; there are two per cherry with a flat side and a rounded side
Type II - these are single round beans per cherry and are known as peaberries.
These types are graded further depending on size, purity of bean, and moisture.
Type I - the varying grades starting with the best are Kona Extra Fancy, Kona Fancy, Kona Number 1, Kona Select, and Kona Prime
Type II - the grades in this type are Peaberry Number 1 and Peaberry Prime
Anything below Types I and II cannot be labeled as Kona legally. Number 3 or Triple X can be labeled as Hawaiian coffee, but anything below that can only be labeled as generic coffee.
Due to the price and scarcity of Kona, many companies sell Kona blends. These blends are a combination of Kona and another bean, like South or Central American, Colombian, or Brazilian. To be considered a Kona blend, there must be a minimum of 10% Kona coffee beans in the blend. On the other hand, according to Hawaiian labeling laws, authentic Kona coffee must be labeled as "100% Kona Coffee".
Try our Hawaiian Kona Coffee and Kona Blends
This delectable coffee is ideal for any time of the day.
Wake up in paradise with one of our Hawaiian Kona coffees.