What's so special about Kona Coffee?
Residents of the Big Island of Hawaiʻi take their coffee seriously.
In fact, once you’re hooked on coffee grown in Hawaiʻi, it’s hard to live without it. Many residents and visitors never leave the island without stowing a bag or two in their luggage. The delicious aroma, when it escapes from your carry-on, is reminiscent of the islands just as much the scent of salty air or the sweet fragrance of plumerias.
The Kona Coffee Store now ships Kona coffee directly to your door so java lovers can get their tropical caffeine fix without ever leaving their kitchen. When purchasing Kona coffee, it’s worth it to splurge on 100 percent Kona coffee. Many of the ‘Kona blends’ consist of only 10 percent Kona coffee beans, so you’re not getting the full experience. While easier on the pocket book, locals will enthusiastically tell you to go for the real deal and get the 100 percent Kona coffee beans. It’s worth the few extra dollars.
The west side of Hawaiʻi Island (also known as the Big Island) is perfect for growing coffee with its beautiful sunny mornings and rainy afternoons. This weather combination, along with the island’s rich volcanic soil and mild evenings, creates a unique environment essential to producing the perfect coffee bean.
This world-famous “coffee belt” is only a mile wide and about 30 miles long. It consists of more than 4,000 acres and is considered small in comparison to the rest of the world’s coffee farms. Known for its well-balanced flavor, each Kona coffee farm has subtle characteristics that make it unique in quality. Coffee harvested exclusively from this “coffee belt” is considered Kona coffee. In addition, there are some coffee farms able to produce their very own 100% Kona Coffee estate coffees.
Hawaiʻi is the only state in the nation with a commercial coffee industry. According the Kona Coffee Council, coffee cherries do not ripen simultaneously, and because of Kona’s rocky location, the coffee trees cannot be mechanically harvested. Every bean must be inspected upon harvest to ensure its readiness, resulting in the coffee cherries being harvested at the perfect time. Unlike mechanical harvests, which result in a combination of overripe and immature beans, Kona coffee beans are picked at the peak of perfection.
Coffee grown in Hawaiʻi is relatively expensive compared to other coffees, because a farm worker in Hawaiʻi is paid significantly more than a worker in South America or Africa, emphasizing the importance of buying fair trade coffee whenever possible.
Kona’s proud coffee heritage and hard-working coffee farmers strive to preserve and perpetuate the cultural importance of coffee to the Island of Hawaiʻi. The only downfall of experiencing a ‘Cup of Aloha’ is you may never be satisfied with a regular cup o’ joe again.