What is Kona coffee?

What is Kona coffee?

Kona coffee is high quality, premium coffee bean cultivated on the slopes of Hualalai. The name of this coffee bean comes from the name of its origin area named Kona. It is one of the most expensive coffee beans in the world that you will get in Kona. Kona coffee beans are considered the world’s rich and premium coffee beans, known for their sweet aroma and natural taste.

Understanding Kona coffee is not enough for you. That’s why in this blog, we will also discuss the history behind Kona coffee evolution, Why Kona is special, What is the reason behind its specialty, Why Kona is expensive, and at last, buying tips of Kona coffee. 

History of Kona coffee

Beginning of Kona coffee Journey.

Almost 200 years ago, a man named Samuel Ruggles first brought this coffee bean to Kona. Following that, from 1850 to the 1880s, the Kona coffee industry was growing dramatically, At that time, many plantations were established, and many of them still exist. 

Henry Nicholas entry

Above all, dramatic changes come when henry Nicholas entered the Kona. 1850 Henry Nicholas Greenwell came to Kona and purchased a large amount of land to produce and sell Kona coffee and other crops commercially. He did so well in that time. In 1873 world fair in Vienna awarded him for excellence, which helped to create excellent brand awareness of the Kona around the world.

Economic crash

In 1899 a huge economic crash arose in the coffee industry, which caused plantation. As a result, plant owners have to lease out their land to their workers. Most of the workers were Japanese, and they started growing good quality coffee crops within 5 to 12 acres of leased land as family concerns. From then, family coffee farming started. 

First world war

In 1917 First world war broke down, and coffee demand started increasing; simultaneously, a frost in Brazil destroys its coffee crops. As a result, the world started depending on Kona coffee.

Rise & Fall

In 1929 Due to the great depression, the coffee price collapsed again after 1899. Coffee and Price raised again. During world war II, because both armies purchased a huge amount of Kona coffee from Hawai.

Sugar plantation was replaced by Kona coffee in 1980:

Since 1980 in Hawaii, sugar plantation industries have been declining, and people are shifting from sugar plantation to Kona plantation. Moreover, due to passing a law allowing beans marketed as “Kona blends” to contain as little as 10% of Kona coffee in 1990, This law allows Kona coffee to produce various grades of coffee, and blends of 10% Kona can legally be sold as “Kona blends.” 

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What makes Kona coffee so special.

Kona coffee beans do not grow everywhere, and this coffee bean is actually very rare. In fact, you will not get it anywhere unless you go to Hawaii. Kona coffee bean has been growing on dark volcanic lava rock slopes of Kona since the earlier 1800s.

Certainly, Soil, weather, care, etc., made this coffee bean so special. In this part, we will talk about the factors that made Kona coffee so special. 


The Kona coffee bean is grown on Hualalai and Mauna Loa Mountains in rich volcanic Soil, and the volcanic Soil is also known as andisol. Due to eruption, a layer of ash, pumice, and igneous rock get mixed with the Soil.

Moreover, This Soil has a good concentration of minerals and nutrients, like phosphates, nitrates, potassium, and calcium, which are good for any kind of plant, especially Kona coffee. Generally, it grows on volcanic Soil only, which has full of minerals.

2.Sun & Weather: 

Sun plays a significant role in producing Kona coffee. Getting healthy and high-yielding coffee beans, you need to keep the balance of sun and shade, And most probably, the western part of Kona is the perfect place to grow Kona coffee. The sunny mornings along with light afternoons and rain, provide natural irrigation. These types of weather combinations created a bold coffee with a heady aroma and beautiful vibrant flavors.

3.Extra care:

Kona coffee cultivation is totally a human-intensive program. Kona coffee needs extra human care and attention. From seed to the whole packaging, the process is conducted by human hands. That’s why every time, you will get rich flavors, beautiful aromas, and natural taste. Everything is going through machines or technology in this industrialization age, but Kona coffee beans are fully human-centric and organic. 

These factors are responsible for its great flavor and rich taste.

Why is Kona coffee so expensive?

Some specific region is fit for its cultivation. Approximately 95% of the coffee is produced on the big island, and the rest of the 5% on the ka’u, puna, and Hamakua coast. 

So limited production location is one of the main reasons for its high pricing. On the other hand, the Kona production process is fully labor-intensive. However, They are the two main reasons for its expensive pricing. Now, in this part, we will discuss it clearly.

1.Limited location: 

As we have discussed above, it is grown in some limited Hualalai, and Mauna Loa locations in the North and South Kona Districts of the Big Island of Hawaii, and the whole region is 1 mile wide and 30 miles long. Again 95% of Kona coffee comes from this region only.

 Today, there are only 700 Kona coffee farms, and many of them are family-oriented and operated. So, it is quite difficult to produce a huge amount of Kona coffee. As a result, the Price becomes high.


Konna grows in the most dangerous place, it is 2500 ft up the side of the world’s largest active volcano, and it is located on the island. Hence, we can understand how much difficult it is to transport the world. 

Shipping is the only way of transportation, which is very costly and time-consuming. Having no good transportation facility, this Kona industry did not grow well. From its origin date to now, it faced many difficulties due to bad location and bad communication facilities.

Labor intensive: 

Since the date of producing Kona coffee bean, it is totally dependent on the human hand, from growing, picking, sorting, pulping, fermenting, washing, drying, and roasting all are conducted manually.

Moreover, Only the picking cost of Kona beans in the Kona region is 20% higher than in other regions. However, from 7.4 pounds of cherries, you will get 1 lb of coffee beans. Generally, a coffee tree can produce a maximum of 16 lbs of cherries equivalent to 2 lbs of roasted coffee beans.

So you can understand the huge labor need to conduct the whole process. For maintaining the whole process, there needs a lot of labor cost. As a result, producers are not able to diminish the Price of Kona coffee beans.

What is the taste of Kona coffee? 

Kona coffee is the premium coffee brand in the world. There is a lot of discussion about Kona coffee and its natural taste. Even in 1866, mark twain said, “Kona Coffee has a richer flavor than any other, be it grown where it may and call it by what name you please.” Indeed, people love this coffee bean for its special aroma and unique flavor.

 Coffee makers find a little bit of ripeness on the Kona coffee, making these coffee beans different from other coffee beans. Moreover, green under-ripe beans produce a hash flavor. This coffee has a vibrant but mild acidity.

Kona coffee spread the fruity flavor first before roasting. As the roasting process going on, the fruity flavor starts declining. The type of roast considered which undertones are the most prominent. 3 types of roast generate three different types of flavor.

Dark roast

Dark roast generates a bold taste that difficult to forget. There you will get a hint of strawberries which is associated with a Kona dark roast. Taking this coffee with food or chocolate can draw out the taste of the coffee.

Medium Roast

In medium roast, you will get a perfect blend of fruit and chocolate flavor, and it will remind you to taste a good dessert. Sweet almond, peach, and marzipan flavors are unforgettable. Medium roast Kona perfectly goes with pork and beef dishes. You can have this coffee with syrupy pancakes at breakfast.

Light Roast

Light roast Kona beans flavors like berry jam and caramel. Most probably, there has some hint of jasmine with a slight aftertaste. You can have lightly roasted coffee with pastries and fruits.

is there more caffeine in Kona coffee

Many experts believe that caffeine is responsible for its intriguing taste. But on average, a cup of medium roasted Kona coffee contains 50mg of caffeine. Though it is more than ordinary average Columbian coffee that conveys on average 30-50mg caffeine, you can’t consider it the most caffeinated coffee because Some kinds of Arabian coffee contained 100 mg caffeine also.

Buying guides of Kona coffee

Purchasing Kona coffee, you don’t need to go to Hawaii. Thanks to the internet, it makes purchasing so easy that you can purchase anything within 3 or 2 taps. But finding the best quality Kona coffee is not a cup of tea. You have to consider many things before purchase. Because many corrupt businessmen try to sell you duplicate Kona coffee. And we don’t want you to buy something wrong thing. That’s why in this part, we will discuss how to find genuine Kona coffee beans so that you can enjoy the great taste of great coffee.

1.Check the origin: 

Yes, the origin is a very important factor to consider before purchasing Kona coffee. Certainly, Kona coffee does not produce anywhere except Kona. If you see that Kona coffee does not belong to Kona, just avoid it and go to another shop. Many sellers will manipulate you by saying Kona comes from Singapore, America, or china. Be aware of them. Genuine Kona coffee always comes from the Kona locality. This is the first thing that you have to consider before buying Kona coffee.

2.Stay Away From “Kona Blends.”

Stay away from Kona blends; if you want genuine Kona coffee beans, don’t go to the trap of Kona blends. Though Kona blends have a legal identity, they do not contain 100% Kona coffee. 100% Kona coffee is very expensive. That’s why many companies sell Kona blends at affordable prices. Kona blends have only 10% genuine Kona coffee. Make sure that you are purchasing genuine Kona coffee, not Kona blends.

Always consider the grades:

Grades play a crucial role in finding out high and rich quality Kona coffee. Kona coffee beans go through a strict testing process which is controlled by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDA). If you want to get a good quality Kona coffee bean, you have to pay heed to HDA grades. Basically, these grades are given on some criteria such as the size, shape, moisture content, and possible flaws in the beans. 

HDA divided Kona coffee into 5 different grades. They are

1.Extra Fancy: Highest quality beans; they’re incredibly pure and rare(Highest grade).

2.Fancy: You will get 12 imperfections per 300g(High grade).

3.Number 1: 18 defects per 300g(Mid-Grade coffee bean, mostly sold in restaurants).

4.Kona Select: 5% defective beans(low mid-grade)

5.Kona Prime: 20% defective beans(lower grade).


100% manually produced coffee beans, generally found in Hawaii. People largely want these coffee beans because it increases metabolism and helps to transfer food into energy quicker. However, finding out the genuine Kona coffee is very difficult because it is rare coffee which doesn’t found everywhere. In this blog, we have discussed everything about Kona coffee, such as what Kona coffee is, history, specialty, taste, buying guides, etc. 

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