When To See The Green And Red Coffee Berries
When the flowers are pollinated they fall off and a small green berry starts growing at its base. These berries typically start appearing on the plants in April, and they stay green until they are red, ripe, and ready to be harvested. The berries turn so red that they are called cherries for their resemblance to a cherry.
Not all the coffee berries ripen at the same time, and each tree needs to be hand-picked several times between August and ~January.
The History Of Kona Coffee
The first person to attempt to grow coffee beans in Hawaii was horticulturist Don Francisco de Paula Marin in 1817. Still, it wasnt until 1828 when Samuel Ruggles successfully introduced coffee to the Big Island. Hawaii was a major exporter of sugar at the time, so coffee was not a priority until more recent decades.
After Ruggles successfully planted the first coffee trees in Kona, Hawaii, from seedlings in Manoa Valley, Oahu, sugar plantation owners switched to running coffee plantations. Unfortunately, bad weather and pests in the 1850s destroyed most of the coffee on the Big Island.
In 1892, coffee production resumed in Hawaii, thanks to Hermann Widemann, who introduced a type of Guatemalan coffee bean to the island. This variety today is called Kona Typica, and it is the islands preferred coffee bean.
Kona Typica didnt have time to flourish immediately after its inclusion in Hawaiian coffee production. The world coffee market crash occurred in 1899, causing coffee prices to plummet from oversupply. At this time, sugar regained popularity, so plantation owners switched back from coffee to sugar production.
The popularity of coffee dropped and rose several times during the 1970s and 1980s, with Kona coffee coming out on top. Yet, Kona coffee is not without scandal.
Here’s How To Tell If Your Kona Coffee Is Real Or Fake
If you’re not familiar with Kona coffee, it’s some of the absolute best coffee in the world. It’s also some of the most expensive, which makes it a presumably great target for what’s known as food fraud. In fact, there’s even a new lawsuit from Hawaiian Kona coffee producers to take down those who are selling mislabeled coffee labels that often lead consumers to believe that the coffee is real Kona coffee. That’s why it is so important to look for certain factors to ensure your Kona coffee is the real deal .
One major tipoff that proves this food fraud is happening can be traced back to how much authentic Kona coffee is produced each year. Only 2.7 million pounds of real Kona coffee is produced annually, though reports show 20 million pounds of coffee labeled as Kona are sold per year. This is why it’s so important to read the labels carefully .
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Why Is Kona Coffee So Expensive
Kona coffee is named after the region where its grown that is Kona, Hawaii, on the island of Hawaii, otherwise known as the Big Island.
Like many coffees, Kona gets its distinctive flavor from the very delicate ecosystem in which it grows. It can literally not be grown anywhere else in the world.
Thats true for a lot of quality coffee beans, though. Many beans get their distinctive tastes and qualities from specific and limited growing regions.
What sets Kona coffee apart is where its grown and how its harvested, and what makes it different is also what makes it so pricey.
Coffee Tours And The Kona Coffee Festival
A very hands-on way of learning more about Kona coffee is to visit one of the many Kona coffee farms. Most of these farms organize tours, during which you typically will be shown around the orchard to see the growing coffee. Afterwards you can tour the processing area and also taste some of the coffee produced on the farm. These tours are sometimes free , but often need to be scheduled ahead of time. Find out more about Kona Coffee Tours at:
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Kona Coffee Farm For Sale On The Big Island
All of the wild winter weather going on right now on the mainland is inspiring a lot you to dream of moving to Hawaii, and for many, that dream seems to be owning a coffee farm here in Kona. As Hawaii Life Real Estates unofficial coffee farm expert, I thought Id share my thoughts on the finest coffee farm currently for sale here on the Kona Coast.
Before I start talking about the farm though, Id like to dis-spell two myths:
Here is a gallery of a variety of Kona coffee farms I have put together priced from $150K up to $1.6 million: Kona Coffee Farm Gallery of Properties
Peaberry Kona Coffee From Koa Coffee
The Peaberry coffee beans are known as the Champagne of Kona. It is a medium roast, whole bean Kona Peaberry coffee that youll consume cup after cup without being able to stop. This high-quality brew is also produced from the Kona Coffee Belt.
- Cup notes: full body and smooth with a big sassy taste
- Flavor notes: subtle, sweet with low acidity aftertaste
- Grade: Extra Fancy
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Does Kona Coffee Taste Different
Overall, youre going to find that Kona coffee tastes different from other types of coffee in the same way any variety of coffee beans will taste different from the others. The flavor profile is influenced by the soil and the atmosphere and so many other features that you wont get the same flavor from coffee grown in two different regions, no matter where they are.
Kona coffee has a bright and fruity flavor, as well as some syrupy notes to the overall body. Its medium richness and floral aromas also make it quite popular. Not to mention it has a good balance of richness without becoming too overpowering.
Of course, different Kona coffees are going to taste slightly different as well. Buying from a different coffee plantation on the Big Island will influence the flavor of the coffee that you get. Also, each coffee plantation may have different ways that they roast the beans even within their own plantation.
If you choose a lighter roast or a darker roast your coffee will taste different as well. All of this means youre going to have a variety of different flavors to try out and they are each going to give you a slightly more unique flavor profile. So why not give them a try and see what you get?
Where To Find Kona Coffee
Are you ready to get some Kona coffee for yourself? If you are then youll want to take a closer look at just where its sold. And its sold in a variety of different places. Of course, one of the best places to get it is directly at a coffee plantation in Hawaii.
These plantations often have tours and offer samples throughout so you can try different roasts. Youre going to get the freshest coffee right there on the plantation and youll be able to learn more about the coffee and the plantation itself at the same time. It can turn into a pretty exciting experience.
Youll also get some great flavors at the Kona Coffee Festival, which happens in November of each year and allows you to really immerse yourself in the flavors of Kona coffee and all of the heritage and culture of the brand. Youll be able to check out all of the different plantations during this special event as well.
Of course, there are plenty of coffee shops right on the Big Island that also offer 100% Hawaii Kona coffee, so make sure you check out one of those if youre pressed for time but still want to make sure you get a chance to sample the local delicacy. Its still quite fresh when you get it here as its prepared right on the island.
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Tips For Buying Kona Coffee
Only coffee grown on the slopes of the Hualalai and Mauna Loa volcanoes in the north and south Kona districts can be called Kona coffee. This coffee then is either sold in blends that carry only 10% Kona beans, or in more expensive 100% Kona Coffee packs.
The Kona Blends that carry only 10% Kona beans fit better into the average budget, but they are not the real deal. If you want to take home Kona coffee it is worth the splurge to go for the 100% Kona Coffee.
Does Starbucks Have Kona Coffee
Those who love Kona coffee will definitely want to know where to get it locally. After all, you cant just head to Hawaii every time you want authentic Kona coffee. And you may not want to order it all the time or may not know where to order it from.
The good news is that you can absolutely get Kona coffee from Starbucks. Youre generally not going to find it right in the store. That means you cant have the barista brew up a cup for you to enjoy there. But you can check out the Starbucks website and find the pure Kona coffee that you want.
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What To Expect On A Kona Coffee Tour
There are now more than 650 coffee farms of all sizes clustered along the ±20 miles of scenic roads on the Hualalai and Mauna Loa slopes. Many of these farms offer tours to the public.
During these tours you are typically shown around the plantation to see the growing coffee in the field. Then you are taken through the processes that are needed to go from a growing coffee bean to a cup of coffee . Many tours end with a tasting of the coffee, very close to a showroom or visitor center where you can buy the local coffee.
Coffee Tours last on average about 30 minutes and are often walking tours . Details though vary on a farm-by-farm basis. Most tours start on the farm, which means you have to drive there yourself. Some tours need to be scheduled ahead of time to make sure there are people to show you around, and many tours are free of charge.
Kona Coffee for sale on highway 11 in the Kau district, between Naalehu and Volcano
Kona Coffee Labor Costs
Kona coffee is grown and harvested on the Big Island of Hawaii, which makes its production subject to the laws of the United States. This puts Kona coffee growers at an immediate disadvantage when it comes to competitively pricing their products.
Its good for the employees, though!
First, U.S. workers get paid more than their counterparts in other major coffee-growing regions of the world, like Asia and South America. This immediately makes Kona coffee beans more expensive than other beans, because they cost more to pick.
Second, picking Kona coffee requires more employees doing more demanding physical labor.
Most coffee around the world is picked by machine, but Kona coffee cherries must be picked by hand. This is due to the growing region on the slopes of Mauna Loa and Huallai.
The same machinery used at the majority of coffee plantations cannot traverse Konas coffee-growing terrain, making it impossible to mechanize the process.
Higher pay + more hours = higher cost of production = higher cost of beans = more expensive coffee.
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Does Kona Coffee Have More Caffeine
The short answer is that Kona coffee has the same amount of caffeine as just about any other type of coffee that you might get. Keep in mind that the caffeine count can vary slightly from one coffee bean to the next but overall its about 250 milligrams of caffeine for a 12 ounce cup of drip coffee or 125 milligrams for a double shot of espresso.
This is when the coffee is roasted to a light roast and still maintains as much of its caffeine content as possible. If you drink Kona coffee that is light roast then youll get about this amount of caffeine, though the exact amount would depend on the specific number of beans that you use.
If you drink a darker roast coffee, however, youll actually get a little less caffeine. The darker the roast the lower the caffeine level because the caffeine can actually be burned out of the coffee through the normal roasting process. So, if youre looking for a good caffeine boost youll want to keep your coffee roast as light as possible.
The American Coffee Dream
Coffee, as a crop, everywhere in the world is undervalued because of cheap labor and abundance of production in the developing world.
Kona coffee is unique since its grown and harvested by Americans. This makes the labor a lot more expensive compared to countries like Kenya and Ethiopia. There are minimum wage laws in the US, and since coffee is rather labor intensive, the costs go up.
The price for green Kona coffee is around $20-25/lb, whereas other regions, such as Central America or Africa is $6-$9/lb for the same quality.
Kona coffee is still just as good as it used to be back in the days when much of the hype was starting to spread, but the worldwide competition has just increased dramatically.
One of the ways the Hawaiian coffee industry has responded to this, is by creating cheaper Kona-alternatives.
Grocery store brands have begun selling Kona Blends, which is just 10% of any random Hawaiian coffee blended with other Arabica beans to jack up prices.
This is definitely not helping the Kona-brand.
What Makes Kona Coffee so Expensive?
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The Verdict: Which Is The Best Kona Coffee
All of the Kona brands on this list are worth their premium price but one offering is a head above the others: the Koa Coffee Tripack, which represents amazing value for three bags of top-class Kona.
If youve never tried Kona before and want to see what all the fuss is about, the Tripack is also great for offering three distinct types and flavor profiles.
Growing Harvesting And Processing Kona Coffee
The process of growing, harvesting and processing Kona coffee is part of what makes it so special, and its also part of what makes it so expensive. So, lets take a look at what it all means and how it affects the end product.
The growing process starts with the bloom and Kona coffee trees actually bloom twice per year, in January and in May. Youll get something thats known to the locals as Kona Snow because the blossoms are small and white, plus them smell sweet.
Once the blooms fade away youll find a green cherry left behind. That cherry will hold the coffee bean and it takes several months to fully ripen. Once its ripe it turns a brilliant red, but it has to be picked at just the right time to make sure the bean inside is just right.
Everything is picked by hand and its judged by hand as well. Which means that the pickers have to be extremely well trained to make sure they dont pick the cherries too early. If they do then the beans wont be the right quality and the coffee wont turn out with the iconic flavor profile.
Once the cherries are picked, they have to be processed properly. This is done by sun-drying them and then raking them across large decks to dry out even more. Only after this is done can the beans be milled and sorted and then graded. Then finally theyll be sent for hand roasting.
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Best Of The Best Volcancia 100% Pure Kona Certified Extra Fancy Volcanica Coffee
The Volcanica Hawaiian Extra Fancy Kona Coffee is one of the most sought out coffees in the world, and for good reason. Its been cultivated in the North and South districts of Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. This is 100% extra fancy coffee that has been certified as meeting the rare qualifications in taste and bean. This been isnt cheap, but if youre looking for a one-of-a-kind experience, its worth checking out. It comes with a certification from the state of Hawaii.
- Cup notes: Single-Origin. 100% Kona. Shade-grown.
- Flavor notes: Floral-Fruits, Jasmine, Bright Citrus, Tart Cherry, and Sweet Caramel
- Grade: Extra Fancy
What Is The Best Month To Go On A Coffee Tour
Coffee farms on the Big Island are open for tours and tastings the whole your round, and the coffee they serve for the free tasting is always fresh. This means that there really is not a bad time to visit.
However! Coffee in Hawaii has a yearly growing cycle and depending on when you visit you will see other things in the coffee fields.
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