What’s The Fuss About Kona Coffee From The Big Island?

While some of us see coffee as a tool best utilized to get us through the day, others obsess over it and rightly so. At least, if the beans are grown in the right conditions and processed with care.

When it comes to the higher end of the coffee spectrum, coffee from Kona trumps any of the options you have at your local supermarket Isle and rivals any specialty brew you’ve heard of too.

So what makes 100% Kona coffee so great, and where can you get your hands on some to try?

What is Kona Coffee?

Kona, located on the Big Island in Hawaii, is famous for a few things. From deep-sea fishing right through to producing some of the most premium coffee beans on the planet.

More specifically, the fuss around these beans centers on the volcanic slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualalai. This area is known as the Kona coffee belt. Providing some of the most fertile, volcanic soil combined with a microclimate, which makes growing exceptional quality coffee easier than most places on earth.

Within this small region, the beans grow slowly and are sun shade-grown, allowing for the beans’ sugars to develop. Consequently, Kona coffee is associated with producing some of the¬†most flavorful espresso¬†beans, which are ranked near the best in the world.

History Of Coffee In Kona

While Hawaii only exports less than 0.05% of global coffee volumes, coffee has been grown in the region since the early 1800s.

The beans, now known as Kona coffee, are said to originate from Guatemala. These are said to have been imported onto the Big Island in 1892. While the industry’s takeoff wasn’t immediate, it’s flourished since the 1960s and grown aggressively to approximately 900 farms across the small district of Kona.

Why Coffee From Kona Is Famous

Kona beans are known as a type of specialty coffee. The use of premium 100% arabica beans, coupled with the volcanic elevation and soil providing the perfect inputs for coffee beans prized for their flavor.

Additionally, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture grades beans based on their visual appearance, number of defects in each bean, moisture levels, and overall shape. There are 8 degrees of grading, of which the highest class called extra fancy are some of the rarest and premium coffee beans.

These factors combined mean that any coffee destined for export is grown with exceptional care, and buyers can rest assured of the quality of the beans they buy based on the grading system.

Tips to enjoy a visit to Kona coffee growers

While buying coffee directly from Kona is excellent, visiting the farms where these little bags of wonder are grown is an even more surreal experience.

Luckily, most of the farms are open to visits and host regular coffee tours along with tastings. The tours show you the plantations where the coffee is grown and highlight critical processes in the growing, harvesting, and post-processing stages. Obtaining this familiarity means you can walk away from your tour fully briefed on Kona coffee, even if you’re not usually big on the topic!