Kona Coffee can change your coffee experience forever. So much that you might not look at any other coffee.
You’ll see how.
What is the first thing you do after waking up in the morning?
Most probably, you grab a cup of your favorite coffee.
It’s right to say that coffee keeps you, and most of us, going for the day.
It is more of a morning ritual, grounding your perfectly roasted beans and brewing it in either french-press, pour-over coffee maker, or drip coffee machine.
But your coffee experience depends on the quality of your coffee beans, apart from the roast, grind, and brewing method.
That is precisely the reason why gourmet coffee is so much in demand.
You might think of popular Colombian coffee brands or maybe Kilimanjaro coffee from Tanzania when we talk of gourmet coffee.
But did you know the world’s best coffee is grown right here in the US?
Kona Coffee, grown in the Kona Mountains of Hawaii’s Big Islands, is one of the world’s highest-grade coffee in terms of quality and flavor.
What is Kona Coffee?
As the name suggests, Kona coffee beans are premium arabica beans grown in the Kona region, west of Hawaii’s Big Island.
They’re, in particular, cultivated on the narrow western stretch of the scenic Hualalai and Mauna Loa mountains.
This region has the most fertile volcanic soil, which enriches the quality of coffee beans.
You will find coffee cultivations in other regions of Hawaii too. However, the climatic conditions and soil fertility of the Kona mountains are ideal for growing superior quality beans.
The coffee-growing belt of the Kona mountains is just 30 miles long and 2-3 miles wide.
Coffee is grown in small farms on the slopes of these hills. They’re hand-picked by experienced coffee farmers, washed, sun-dried, and roasted in small batches to maintain the highest quality.
Interesting, isn’t it?
You see, the fame and hype around Kona mountain beans isn’t something new.
Back in 1866, Mark Twain commented, “Kona coffee has a richer flavor than any other, be it grown where it may and call it by what name you please.”
If you have a taste for premium coffee and have tried Kona coffee, you will agree with Mark Twain’s view.
Kona coffee was awarded for its excellent quality in 1873 at the World Exhibition in Vienna, and it has stood to the name ever since.
How does Kona Coffee taste?
Now that you’ve seen what Kona mountain coffee exactly is, you might wonder how it tastes.
What distinguishes the beans from Hawaii’s Kona region are their unique flavors and tempting aromas. The reason why they’re at the top of global coffee rankings.
The taste of your coffee is determined by the kind of roast, freshness of beans, and your brew method.
Like other gourmet coffees, French press and pour-over are the best ways to get the most out of your beans.
If you brew Kona coffee the right way, the flavor may include hints of chocolate, honey, various fruits and nuts, earthiness, among others. The same applies to the long and pleasant after-taste guaranteed with every cup of Kona coffee.
You can also expect a sweet blend of aromas, including caramel, cocoa, and fruit.
It is the combination of flavor, after-taste, and aroma that together hooks you to the rich and high-quality Kona beans.
Kona Coffee: Scams To Avoid
You’ve seen what Kona coffee exactly is and what makes it so unique.
But, you’ll be surprised to know about scams in the coffee industry, especially in the name of Kona coffee.
Kona mountain coffee is the world’s favorite, and some manufacturers seek to exploit the name. For instance, in 1996, a California coffee company was found guilty of labeling and selling Costa Rican coffee as ‘Kona Coffee’ beans.
Stay away from the blends
For the richness and unique flavors of authentic Kona mountain coffee, you should go for 100 percent arabica bean Kona coffee.
Some brands labeling their coffee beans as Kona coffee might be selling coffee blends consisting of cheaper beans from South America or Africa.
You see, any coffee containing 10 percent or more Kona beans can be labeled as ‘Kona Coffee’ as per Hawaiian laws.
Meaning a coffee brand labeled as Kona may overwhelmingly consist of Brazilian or even other Hawaiian coffee, and only around 10 percent of Kona mountain coffee.
That will indeed lack the taste of real 100 percent Kona beans, and you will lose your money.
Things to consider while buying authentic Kona mountain coffee
You see, brand labeling can easily trick you into buying blends that lack the unique flavors and aroma of Kona beans.
Here are certain things to consider while buying your Kona mountain coffee:
- Always go for products labeled as 100 percent pure Kona coffee.
- Do check the region where it is grown. Look for mention of Kona District, Hualalai, or Mauna Loa mountains.
- The product must bear official Kona grades.
- If you’re purchasing online, do check the source of origin and brand of the coffee beans.
- Lastly, do check the coffee grades. Every batch of Kona beans go through the most rigorous testing. The Hawaiian Department of Agriculture grades it based on shape, size, moisture content, and possible flaws in the beans. Extra fancy beans are of the highest quality.
5 Best Kona Coffee Beans: Top Picks For You
As you saw, mislabeling and misrepresentation are real concerns when purchasing Kona coffee.
Beans from the Kona mountains are expensive. And you’re paying a premium for a reason.
You want the best coffee experience from every sip.
The reason why we’ve picked the five best Kona coffees for you.
Let’s see them in detail.
#1. Mrs. Barry’s Kona Mountain Coffee
Like her Kona cookies, Mrs. Barry’s Kona mountain coffee is loved for its rich taste and aroma.
These 100 percent pure Kona beans are grown on the slopes of Hualalai Volcano. The fertile volcanic soil enriches the quality of coffee beans.
The berries are hand-picked and beans sun-dried by expert coffee farmers.
Your favorite Kona mountain beans are farm-roasted by master roasters who’ve perfected the art of roasting over generations.
Kona beans are roasted till they turn chestnut brown, which gives you a distinctly delicate taste in every brew.
A rich and smoky taste of pure Kona coffee is sure to keep you coming back for more, just like Mrs. Barry’s delicious Kona Cookies.
Mrs. Barry’s Kona Cookies ship their Kona mountain beans fresh across the US.
The best part is, unlike most brands that sell adulterated ‘Kona Coffee’ with only 1/10th Kona beans, Mrs. Barry’s Kona beans are 100 percent pure from the Big Island mountain of Hualalai.
So you can rest assured of the quality and origin of your coffee beans.
#2. Koa Coffee – Peaberry
If you’re a coffee enthusiast, you must have heard of peaberry coffee from Hawaii’s Kona mountains.
These are uniquely oval-shaped, having one single bean instead of two flat beans due to a rare mutation in the coffee plant.
Just 3 to 5 percent of all coffee grown in the Kona mountains are peaberries, making them the rarest of rare coffee delicacy.
They’re famous as ‘champagne of coffee’ given their light and fruit-like flavor. The unique small-sized beans are the reason why peaberry coffee is so flavorful.
Koa Coffee’s medium-roasted peaberry beans taste sweeter and smoother than other Kona beans.
Simply put, it’s a taste you won’t get in any other coffee.
Even as some other brands offer peaberry beans, Koa Coffee’s expertise in hand-picking and roasting the beans to perfection means their peaberry coffee is of top-notch quality.
Kona beans are expensive. It is especially true for peaberry coffee.
However, Koa’s peaberry beans are way cheaper than its coffee industry counterparts.
If you’re looking for a change from your regular coffee, this is the perfect option.
Fact is, the demand for Koa’s peaberry coffee outstrips its supply.
So if you’re looking to buy some of this rare gem of coffee, you should probably hurry and place your order.
#3. Royal Kona from Hawaii Coffee Company
Hawaii Coffee Company has been growing and roasting high-grade Kona mountain coffee since 1968, maintaining a consistent quality and taste.
Its medium roasted ‘Royal Kona’ beans in particular will elevate your coffee experience with its aromatic, full-bodied, and smooth taste.
Medium-roasting allows the natural taste of Kona beans to come out in every brew. Its flavors include a delicate mix of earthy and fruity notes.
Hand-picking from a single estate qualifies them as single-origin coffee.
The American Academy of Taste qualifies these beans from Hawaii Coffee Company as a “superior” quality Kona mountain coffee.
The best part about these beans is the price.
Royal Kona qualifies as one of the cheapest Kona beans. Meaning you can have them for your everyday coffee.
There you have it, 100 percent pure Kona beans on a budget.
#4. Keala 100% pure Kona mountain coffee
Keala’s Kona beans have a mixed flavor with coconut, passionfruit, and nut hints.
They taste mellow and combine bright, fruity notes with a slightly smoky flavor.
Medium-roasting is a distinct feature of many Kona beans, which applies here.
The coffee beans are grown on the Honolulu slopes of Big Island.
However, these are shipped out to Seattle-based Bean Box for roasting, which roasts them in small batches and delivers fresh to your doorstep.
If you’re someone who wants a strong kick out of your morning brew, this coffee might not be for you.
But, it can be a great choice if you’re into gourmet coffee.
Its medium-roasting brings the most flavors out of it. Also, they are low in acidity and less bitter.
There you have it, a uniquely flavored and smooth Kona mountain beans.
#5. Volcania Hawaiian Coffee – Extra Fancy
Volcania specializes in growing and roasting high-altitude shade-grown coffee.
Its extra fancy medium-roasted beans combine floral and fruity notes.
The flavors will never forget to surprise you with the perfect blend of citric, jasmine, sweet caramel, and tart cherry tastes.
Volcania extra fancy beans are famous for their rich and mellow flavor and low acidity.
These full-bodied beans will indeed offer you a delicious brew.
Also, Volcania offers freshness unlike any other. For instance, your coffee beans are roasted after you’ve placed an order and delivered fresh in 1-2 business days.
It is perfect if you want to indulge in a one-of-its-kind coffee experience.
However, these beans aren’t cheap as they can’t be grown anywhere.
Conditions like perfect altitude, shade, temperature, shower, and sunshine need to be factored in when cultivating them.
Kona Coffee FAQs
Why is Kona Coffee so expensive?
Kona beans aren’t cheap. In fact, premium beans like peaberries and extra fancy beans are so expensive that you can’t have them for your daily cup of coffee.
It’s primarily because of factors like harvesting conditions, demand exceeding supply, and high labor costs.
You see, the volcanic mountains of Mauna Loa and Hualalai have steep altitudes that make mechanized cultivation impossible.
Also, Kona beans have to be carefully hand-picked by farmers to maintain consistent quality.
As you’ve seen earlier, the coffee-growing belt of Hawaii’s Big Island is very small. There are only about 700 small coffee farms that cater to the global demand.
Hawaii’s Big Island coffee beans need to be shipped to the mainland US, which increases the cost manifold.
The Colombian, Brazilian, or Ethiopian coffee beans that you find in stores across America are cheaper because of lower labor costs in these coffee-growing countries.
On the other hand, minimum wage laws in the US mean labor costs are higher, making Kona beans expensive.
Whole bean or pre-ground, what should you choose?
You should always go for whole bean Kona coffee. Freshly ground coffee offers unmatched taste and flavor.
Pre-ground coffee loses its freshness over a period of time and may taste bland.
Kona beans shipped to you from Hawaii, and you want them fresh.
Are Kona beans grown sustainably?
Kona coffee farmers do fully sustainable farming.
You see, the volcanic soil of the Kona region is super fertile. So farmers don’t need chemical fertilizers to increase their soil fertility.
The fact is farmers of this region are acutely aware of the impact chemicals might cause on the unique coffee varieties. So they stick to centuries-old organic farming.
Kona mountain beans are indeed expensive. But, they’re worth every penny.
The high standards and premium quality of Kona beans are simply unparalleled.
It’s for this reason that people call them the ‘champagne of coffee’.
You will not get the unique flavors and aroma of Kona beans in any other coffee.
That’s why we’ve compiled the list of top-ranking Kona beans that will surely amplify your experience.