Gourmet Coffee Beans from the Kona Districts in Hawaii

Green Kona coffee beans are specialty coffee that grow on the dry, mineral-rich soil and relatively high altitudes of the volcanic mountains in the north and south districts of Kona in the Hawaii island.

Kona coffee includes very good and also some not best coffee productions, but as a rule the Hawaiian coffees are expensive.

The coffee from the Big Island has its roots in Brazil, where the Arabica coffee was originally brought from, and the coffee trees were planted in the Kona districts of the Big Island of Hawaii. Later, in the 1890s, coffee plants from Guatemalan were also brought and planted in Kona.

The Kona coffee is grown in many farms spread over a relatively small area of about 2 miles wide and 20 miles long, known as the "Kona Coffee Belt."

The Kona coffee beans are from the Coffee Arabica (C. Arabica, aka Arabica Coffee) type, and is referred to as Kona Typica. The Arabica, compared to the Robusta type, is of higher quality, but is also more vulnerable to climatic conditions. (See types of coffee beans for more about the Arabica and Robusta coffee types.)

The Hawaiian coffee grow on the coffee trees in the numerous farms and then are harvested and processed. After ripening and hand-picking them off the trees, the green Kona coffee beans are separated from their pulp and mucilage and sold as raw kona whole bean coffee. They can also be sold after roasting (when they are not anymore green, of course).

The Hawaiian Kona coffee beans are the only specialty coffee that is grown in the USA. Some of the Kona coffees are considered as one of the premium gourmet coffees of the world.

Climate Conditions

The Kona coffee is planted and cultivated in the Kona districts of the Big Island of Hawaii. Kona rests on the Western slopes of the rocky volcanic mountains of Hualalai and Mauna Loa. Its unique geographical location and climate, distinguishing it from the rest of Hawaii, makes it a favorable place for planting and cultivating coffee.

The Kona coffee is grown on high elevations (actually on 800-2500 ft altitudes). It is sheltered from the winds by the mountains and shaded from the summer heat by the clouds that bring about rain in the afternoons, mostly in the summer season unlike most of Hawaii. Rainfall in the Kona district occurs mostly in the summer season, a favorable condition for growing coffee.

The Kona coffee farms are located on a small part of the Hawaiian Kona district. The area where the coffee grows is considered very small compared to other specialty coffee growing places around the world.

Kona Coffee - History

The history of Kona coffee dates back more than 200 years, to 1828 when coffee was first introduced to Kona. Today about 6-700 coffee farms are said to be in Kona. The average farms is less than 5 acres, usually 2-3 acres.

Harvesting and Processing

In the months of January to May, at different periods, the coffee trees bloom and are covered by the "Kona Snow," white flowers that spread a pleasant sweet blossom. The red coffee cherries on the trees start to ripen in late August and are picked from August to January.

Like in most other coffee plants, the coffee fruits are picked by hand. Soon after picking, the cherries are depulped (shedding off the outer red skin) and wet-processed by fermentation in water for 12 to 24 hours, then washed and mostly sun-dried on a track to a 10-13% moisture level, for 7 to 14 days.

The cherries are then milled to remove the parchment (hard white skin) and underlying silverskin, and the resulting green beans are sorted, graded and roasted, or sold to roasters and consumers.

The Kona beans are graded according to their type (Type I – two beans per cherry, the beans being flat on one side and oval on the other side; Type II – one round bean per cherry), size and moisture content.

Green Kona Coffee Beans and
Kona Blend Coffee

Kona coffee is one of the most expensive coffees in the world. Often coffee is labeled as a Kona Coffee Blend, which however, may be misleading, as it is often not really a blend of different types of Kona coffee from Hawaii, but just a blend of coffees of various origins, perhaps inferior quality coffee, with merely 10 percent of Kona coffee mixed into the blend as required by law.

If you want to be sure you have pure Kona coffee of Hawaii, then look for labels announcing "100% Kona coffee."

Read more about Kona blends coffee here.

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