The History of Kona Coffee, and Everything Else You Need to Know.


This is a guest post from Koobies Coffee, all about Kona Coffee. 

Have you seen the name Kona in coffee labels but unsure of what it is? Read this post and we’ll
share with you the history of Kona coffee, what does it taste like, and how it is harvested,
among other things.

By the time you are done reading this post, you will have new knowledge to make you a coffee
connoisseur. More importantly, you might end up online, searching where to buy Kona coffee
and itching to finally discover what the buzz is all about.

History of Kona Coffee

Hawaiian coffee has a rich history. It was in 1825 when the first coffee beans were planted in
Oahu, which was imported from Brazil during that time. The region proved to be attractive for
growing coffee, as it flourished all over the island.

It was only in 1828 when Kona coffee was planted in Hawaii, which is credited to a missionary
in the name of Samuel Ruggles. It was not successful at first. White scale infestation has been a
dominant problem and most portions of the land were converted to become sugar plantation.

In the 1850s, the production of Kona coffee Hawaii became more stable. Ladybugs have been
introduced to deal with the infestation caused by pests. Advanced growing practices have also
been introduced.

Meanwhile, in the 1950s, it is said that Kona coffee was planted in more than 6,000 acres of
land in the Big Island, which is a proof of how successful it has been. At such a size, the region
is able to produce as much as 17 million of Kona beans in a year.

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Today, there are more than 600 farms in Hawaii that are growing Kona coffee, specifically on
the slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano. It is 95% of the entire coffee production in the Big Island.

Growing and Harvesting Kona Coffee

There is no such thing as a single Kona company. Also, you cannot just name your coffee Kona.
There are requirements for coffee to be classified as such. To make a claim that a product is
100% Kona coffee, it should be grown in an exclusive region and it involves a rigorous process
that results in superior flavour and aroma.

To be specific, Kona refers to a region in Hawaii where the climate is believed to be the most
ideal for growing flavorful and aromatic coffee beans. It has dark volcanic lava slopes. It is on
the Hawaii West Coast, a place that is also often referred to as the Big Island. It is grown in
North and South Kona. Even if it is grown in Hawaii, but not in Kona, it can never be called
Kona Coffee.

A Kona farm is small and independent. More often than not, the size of each farm ranges only
from three to seven acres. Each farm is usually run by a family instead of a million-dollar
corporation. This is as against other coffee farms that are massive.

The harvest season of Kona coffee runs from August to January. At this point, farmers spend a
great deal of time to meticulously pick the ripe beans. They pick a coffee cherry that is ripe red,
which is an indication that it is ready for harvest. Hand-picking involves making sure that the
cherry is ripe enough to be picked.

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Upon harvesting, the pulp of each cherry is removed. The removal of the outer flesh is done by
hand, which is one of the reasons why it is quite more expensive when compared to ordinary

beans. It undergoes fermentation and is washed using clear water. It is then dried under the heat
of the sun.

After drying the beans, they are milled to get rid of the parchment. The green beans are then
sorted and graded. After this, the farmer has the option to sell the beans to commercial roasters
or they process it themselves until it is sold.

What Does Kona Coffee Taste Like?

Although kona coffee comes from the same region, it is wrong to say that they all taste the same.
Obviously, the way they are handled and processed will have an effect on their resulting flavour
and aroma. The soil, elevation, watering, drainage, and fertilizing will affect taste. With this,
even coffee beans grown in farms next to each other may exhibit significantly different tastes.

Simple yet rich – this is perhaps the best way to describe the taste of Kona coffee. It is usually
light but delicate. The finish is not as strong as the other coffees that you might have been used
to. It is well-balanced and comes with a medium body. The tones can be spicy, buttery, and

winey. The aroma is intense. Poor quality beans, on the other hand, can be sour or have too much

Where to Buy Kona Coffee

To enjoy the best quality and flavour of Kona coffee, it is important that you know where to buy.
Many will make false claims to advertise their products, so you have to be careful to not fall into
their marketing traps.

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Generally speaking, you will have two options. The first one contains 10% Kona beans. The
more expensive option, which is also more flavourful, is 100% Kona.

The best place to buy Kona coffee is direct from the source, from where the beans are planted.
Also, supermarkets in the Big Island are likely to carry real Kona coffee. If you happen to be in
Hawaii, it would be best to take a Kona tour and purchase your coffee straight from the grower
of the beans.

Final Words

At this point, we hope that you already know the history of Kona coffee and other important
things, such as its flavour and how it is harvested. It might be expensive compared to your average
coffee, but the additional price is sure to be worth it, given its unique and rich flavour. Unlike
other coffees, it is subtle, but it tickles the taste bud like no other!


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