If you are a coffee lover then you have probably at least heard whispers or rumours of Kona coffee. This much sought after coffee has been given the accolade of being some of the best coffee beans in the world!
Produced out of Hawaii, Kona coffee is grown in optimal conditions, has a very distinct flavor profile, and can simply be brewed to make some delicious coffee.
So what is kona coffee? What does kona coffee taste like? Why is kona coffee so expensive? Are there different types of kona coffee? And if so then which one should I go for? These are a few of the questions we will seek to answer in this article.
What is Kona Coffee?
Kona coffee is Arabica coffee that is grown and harvested in the Kona district of Hawaii. The Kona region is one of the best coffee growing regions in the world. Coffee is grown at high elevations on the slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualalai- 2 active volcanoes in Hawaii. The coffee is grown in near perfect conditions; in fertile, mineral-rich volcanic earth and with weather that is ideal for growing coffee. It is no wonder the coffee that comes from here is such high quality! Only coffee grown in the Kona coffee belt can be described and marketed as kona coffee.
What does Kona Coffee taste like?
Kona coffee has a light, mellow, fruity taste with a distinctly sweet aroma. When drinking it you can expect to taste hints of nuts or honey and flavors similar to caramel and cocoa with a lingering bittersweet aftertaste of citrus.
The distinct flavor profile of kona coffee differs from farm to farm and depending on the level of roasting, however all kona coffee produces a brew that is mellow and smooth with a hint of fruity flavor.
Kona coffee is naturally low in acidity so is a great option for those looking for a low acid coffee.
Where to buy Kona Coffee from?
Kona coffee is not usually available in supermarkets. You can buy it at specialty food stores or farmers markets or online. You could also talk to your local artisan coffee roasters as they may well have access to it.
What to look for when buying Kona Coffee?
The high reputation of Kona coffee has unfortunately led to its exploitation through the mislabelling of coffee. When buying Kona coffee you always need to check the label to ensure that you are buying 100% pure Kona coffee and not a blend. A lot of companies market their Kona blend as Kona coffee when it only contains a small amount (maybe 10%) of Kona coffee mixed with cheaper beans. To ensure you are getting genuine Kona coffee check that the coffee is from the island of Hawaii and labelled 100% pure Kona Coffee. You can find a list of producers on the Kona Coffee Farmers Official website.
Hawaii has its own coffee grading system based on the size, shape, moisture content and defects in the beans. The beans are divided into 8 grades:
1. Extra Fancy (highest quality)
7. Natural Prime
8. Mixed Natural Prime (lowest quality)
Coffee professionals generally consider Kona beans graded 1-5 to be a high quality bean with very little difference in flavour.
The Best Kona Coffee 2020
Keala’s Hawaiian Coffee– 100% Kona
Keala’s Hawaiian Coffee is 100% Kona coffee, using only handpicked, extra-fancy grade cherries. This is a medium roasted coffee that is a great all-rounder. The beans are roasted in Seattle in small batches and shipped freshly roasted.
Volcanica Coffee is another rich, well-balanced coffee that is great for all brewing styles. It has a bit more body than Keala coffee but still has a mellow flavour with low acidity. It is available as whole beans or ground according to your preference. The beans are shade grown at high altitude in Kona and then roasted at Volcanica Coffee. Once again only extra-fancy beans are used. The beans are only roasted after being bought, ensuring freshness. Volcanica has great shipping options with free shipping on orders over $60.
Koa Coffee- Medium Roast Tripack
Koa Coffee tripack is a great introduction to Kona Coffee. The Tripack comes with 3 sample bags of coffee: Grande Domaine, Private Reserve and Estate.
Grand Domaine: this is a rich, smooth, balanced coffee with little bitterness. This is a vienna roast- so is a little darker than medium.
Private Reserve: This is an award-winning medium roast
Estate Kona: This is a medium roasted coffee harvested from a single farm
This is a great way to try a variety of different Kona coffees and while it is a little more expensive than the other coffees on this list, it is great value as you get 3 bags of coffee!
Hawaii Coffee Company- Royal Kona Estate Coffee
Royal Kona Estate Coffee is a medium roast that tastes more like a light roast. It has a bright, fruity flavour profile, with low acid. This coffee is produced by a well established brand, that sources beans from its own plantations. Once again only extra-fancy beans are used and the distributors only roast the beans after an order is placed to ensure freshness.
Koa Coffee- Peaberry Kona
If you have been around the coffee world long enough you have probably heard of the rare peaberry. It is a coffee bean that has a unique shape, having only 1 single oval-shaped beans instead of 2 flat beans due to a rare mutation. Only about 3-5% of beans are peaberries and they have a light, fruity flavour. The Koa Coffee Peaberry Kona is a great coffee to try. It is advertised as being a medium roast but is more similar to a light roast. Given the rarity of Peaberries this roast is often out of stock however we highly recommend giving it a try if you can get your hands on it- it isn’t labelled the ‘Champagne of Kona’ for no reason!
While Kona coffee is one of the more expensive types of coffee available on the market we highly recommend giving it a go and experiencing this mellow, sweet, smooth coffee.