Unraveling The 'Secret' Behind Kona Coffee - Sourcing Coffee on Hawaii's Big Island
To the average consumer, paying $50 for 12 ounces of coffee beans might seem a bit excessive. But to true coffee lovers and gourmet enthusiasts, the Kona coffee bean is one of those things that can truly be considered a gift from heaven. Besides being grown in an amazingly beautiful place, with over 3,000 small farms scattered throughout the three largest islands of Hawaii – Kauai, Oahu and Hawaii - Kona Coffee boasts several qualities that set it apart from all other coffees throughout the world which we will discuss below.
What specifically makes Kona so special?
The Flavor: Kona coffee is indeed considered one of the best tasting coffees in the world. It has a complex taste -light, sweet and fruity with hints of spice or nuts and perfect acidity - which makes it stand out from other coffees. It also has no bitter aftertaste.
The terroir: As you may have heard that Kona coffee is harvested on the slopes of Mauna Loa Volcano on Hawaii's Big Island. The perfect mix of volcanic soil, temperature, 1,500- 3,200' elevation and optimal annual rainfall make for an excellent coffee.
Processing: Kona Coffee is processed in small batches which allows for a greater degree of control over the drying process compared to other regions. Many processing stations are set up with infrared bean graders which automatically discard poor quality or unripe beans which will adversely affect the flavor of the end product.
Culture: The culture surrounding Kona Coffee focuses on the craft that goes into making each cup of coffee as well as the work that goes into growing each bean from seed to cup. In fact, there are many rituals surrounding this type of coffee including roasting over an open
I am fortunate enough to visit Kona 3-4 times per year to source our Kona Coffee beans from small farms and have first hand experience at the farm level. I enjoy the beauty of the land as well as the passion of the people behind the coffee. Here are eight things you should know about sourcing Kona coffee: 1. You will pay more for Kona than other coffees. 2. The price difference is worth it. 3. Older coffee trees are better than young coffee trees, which has not had time to develop its full flavor potential. 4. Don't buy from a processor who blends multiple farms beans together - go direct to the grower if possible. 5. Be prepared to spend time on your search, tasting all kinds of coffee (not just Kona) before you find your ideal farmer. 6. Don't be afraid to ask questions when visiting a farm or buying coffee at a farmer's market - they want you to be happy with what you buy! 7. Look for wet hulled processing (meaning the beans are dried in the pod) if you want a nice clean cup without any earthiness and less caffeine.
Kona coffee is unquestionably worth the money, because it’s truly a great coffee. Kona is one of Hawaii’s top agricultural products, and you can taste why. The consistency is a perfect medium ground (pun intended) of bold taste, strong but approachable flavor, and interesting complexity. You can’t go wrong with Kona coffee, it truly makes a heavenly cup of coffee.