What is a Kona coffee?
Kona coffees are the only coffees grown in the United States. More specifically, they are grown in Hawaii. Hawaii is only state anywhere near the “coffee belt” not too far from the equator.
Kona coffees are all grown on the Mauna Loa volcano. Although this volcano reaches 13,697 feet above sea level and takes up more than 50% of the main island, the coffee plants only grow between 800 feet and 3000 feet. This is actually a wider range of altitudes than most arabica coffee plants are capable of growing.
All Kona coffees come from arabica beans.
What is also interesting about Mauna Loa, is that it is the world’s largest active volcano. This gives a rich diversity to the soil the arabica beans are growing in, but also gives the soil a certain acidity that carries over into a rich and full taste and smell when you consume the coffee.
Generally coffee plants need to have some sort of shade when they are growing too. The tropical clouds themselves provide the sun protection.
There are roughly 700 coffee farms that grow arabica coffee beans on Mauna Loa, and things like processing, roast type, and altitude all make for huge variables when it comes to flavors. That being said, Kona coffees tend to be medium bodied with a light chocolatey undertone.
That being said, since this coffee can only be grown adequately on this single volcano, and because shipping from Hawaii to anywhere is going to be costly, Kona coffees tend to be pricey as well.
Some people fall in love with Kona coffees since they do seem to have a slightly different taste about them. Other people think they are overpriced and that people fall in love with the idea and tend to ignore what they deem as a lower quality taste compared to its price.
Beware of the “blends” with lower percentages of Kona coffees, however. Due to its group of diehard fans, there are blends who will do 10% Kona coffee and 90% some other coffee beans (generally Central American), just so that they can advertise that it has Kona inside it.
Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture has created its own grading system to insure that the Kona fans get what they want. Perhaps we will do another blog just on this grading system in the future, but for a quick synopsis, it has 5 grades of Hawaiian coffee that are determined by the coffee beans’ size, amount of imperfections per weight, and levels of moisture.
We tend to not serve up Kona coffees in our coffee and snack subscription box too often. Should we change that?