Kona Coffee is Hawaiian Coffee

Kona Coffee is highly prized throughout the world for its full-bodied flavor and pleasing aroma. This rare coffee grows on trees that thrive on the cool slopes of the Hualalai and Mauna Loa mountains rich in both nutritious volcanic soil and afternoon cloud cover. This unique environment offers several advantages to this sought-after coffee bean, in respect to other coffees grown elsewhere in the world.  First, coffee trees typically bloom after Kona's dry winters, sprouting clusters of white flowers rather poetically known as "Kona snow"; the first green berries appear in April and are harvested in autumn after they have ripened and turned red. Second, coffee cultivated in the North and South districts of Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii is the only coffee that can truly be called "Kona Coffee".

The first coffee plants brought to Hawaii were Brazilian cuttings imported by the Reverend Samuel Ruggles, and later popularized as "Kona Coffee" by Henry Nicholas Greenwell, an English merchant. You can still visit the Greenwell Store and Kona Coffee farm he established, which has now been turned into a museum. Today, most coffee farms in the Kona area are small, family-run affairs with no more than five acres, meaning every crop gets individualized attention and care.

Before being graded, Kona coffee is hand picked, pulped, dried and hulled. Machinery at the coffee mill sorts the beans into different grades by size and shape. Peaberry is top of the line. A peaberry bean is formed when one side of the flower fuses with the other leaving only one bean in the coffee cherry. This gives the peaberry a more concentrated flavor and makes up only about 5% to 10% of the total Kona Coffee harvest. Top grades (in descending order) include extra fancy, fancy, No.1 and prime.

Kona Coffee is sun dried, then custom roasted depending on desired results and differences in moisture of the beans. A good roasting process (and processor) can make a world of difference. Roasting is referred to as an "art form" by many in the trade. Dark roasts are typically called French, Italian or Espresso. Medium roasts include Full-City and Vienna. Flavored coffee is either sprayed or powdered immediately after roasting for best absorption of the added flavor. Just after roasting the oxidation process begins and coffee is at its freshest.

Airtight containers and freezing coffee will optimize freshness. Whole bean coffee stored in this manner retains a recommended shelf life of about two months, ground coffee about a month. Growers suggest buying in whole bean form and grinding just before brewing each pot. Depending on whether you make coffee in a French press, percolator, or espresso machine, the consistency of the grind will also change: French presses work best with very coarse-ground coffee beans, while percolators and espresso makers require much finer grinds to function at their best. Always use fresh, cold water to brew coffee (or tea)--old water that has been sitting in a kettle or thermos can make the resulting brew taste flat.

To purchase 100% pure Kona Coffee, check the label. KONA BLEND means it only contains 10% Kona beans on average. These are usually mixed with those from Brazil, Central America, Africa and Indonesia. Vendors offering a Kona coffee blend are required to list the percentage of Kona coffee in each batch, but may or may not state the origin of the remaining coffee beans in a blend. By Hawaiian labeling law, unblended, pure Kona coffee must say 100% Kona Coffee prominently on the label.

If you're coming to the Big Island of Hawaii and the Kona Coast, be sure to check out the numerous farms and coffee mills in the Kona Coffee Belt.  You can purchase some authentic, freshly-roasted Kona coffee HERE.