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Best Kona Coffee Brands (Review) In 2020

our top 3 picks for best 100% Kona coffee

  • Blend of light and medium roast beans
  • Ideal for brewing in a French press and for cold brew
  • More acidic and has fruity flavors
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  • Voted ‘best in America’ by Forbes
  • Full bodied and smooth taste
  • Freshest Kona coffee on the market
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  • Beans grown on the slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano
  • Has a sophisticated smooth and nutty taste
  • Fresh beans only
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If you have never tasted Kona coffee, you are probably wondering what it is.

True connoisseurs of this invigorating drink claim that Kona coffee is so silky, soft, aromatic, and delicious that if you try it once, you’ll never want to buy other beans again.

Take your time buying a bag of Kona beans. We must warn you: Kona coffee beans are some of the most expensive in the world. Deceptive roasters dilute Kona with cheaper beans.

But don’t worry. We did some research and found the best Kona coffee brands. We also prepared a buyer’s guide for you so that you’ll know what to pay attention to when choosing the best Kona coffee beans.

Let’s get started.

Koa CoffeeIf you are a coffee connoisseur who wants only the best, here is best Kona coffee brand, which was featured in Forbes' "Top 10 Coffees of the World". Key Features
  • Perfect for any method of brewing
  • It is full bodied flavor with a great aroma and the packaging is natural and adorable
  • Choose one of 3 unique flavors or order all at once
View Latest PriceSee Customer Reviews
Volcanica Kona Peaberry CoffeeThe peculiarity of this variety is that only carefully selected beans come here. This is how premium Kona coffee is made. Key Features
  • Certified by the State of Hawaii
  • Low acid coffee
  • Sweet flavor with a hint of cocoa
View Latest Price →See Customer Reviews
Hawaii Coffee Company The blend of light- and medium- roasted Kona coffee beans make this coffee taste soft with a pronounced sourness. Key Features
  • Perfect for brewing in French Press and Cold brew
  • Has fruity flavors
  • The brand has other coffee roasts available
View Latest Price →See Customer Reviews

What Is Kona Coffee?

Kona coffee beans are an Arabica variety cultivated on the slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualālai in the North and South Kona districts of Hawaii’s Big Island. Kona coffee beans get their name from the region in which they grow.

Why Is Kona Coffee So Good?

Kona is really great coffee. The success of their cultivation is due to the environment in which they’re grown. There are two active volcanoes on this part of the Big Island, and therefore the soil is porous and mineral-rich. 

The area also has an ideal climate for delicate trees: sunny mornings, rainy or windy evenings, and cool nights. All these factors make it possible to grow one of the most elite varieties of Arabica in the world: Kona.

What Does Kona Taste Like?

What is unique about the flavor of Kona coffee compared to other coffees?

The taste of the finished drink largely depends on the degree of roasting. But in any case, the first thing you will notice when preparing the drink is its sweet aroma. When you take your first sip of Kona, you will notice a sweet, rich, juicy taste.

Depending on the degree of roasting, Kona coffee can have hints of nuts or honey. Some brands and roasts have flavors like caramel, cocoa, and fruit. You will also love the bitter aftertaste of citrus and nuts.

Kona coffee also has reduced acidity, so it is gentle on the stomach. 

Not only is the taste of Kona coffee unique, but so are its physical effects. You won’t be as energetic as when you drink other caffeinated coffee. On the contrary, you will feel calm, but at the same time, you will be able to recover your strength. 

Coffee beans from different farms has different tastes. Some beans have a more berry-like aroma, while others give you a distinct vanilla aroma. Taste notes can also change. However, all Kona beans make a rich, sweet drink.

Kona Coffee Recommendations

Unfortunately, many roasters call their coffee “Kona” when in fact their coffee contains only 10% Kona beans and 90% Brazilian or Colombian Arabica.

There’s nothing illegal about this. But you can save money and just buy a standard Brazilian blend. You won’t notice any difference between that blend and one that only contains 10% Kona coffee.

If you want to enjoy the real variety, you should make sure you buy 100% Kona Coffee. Here are some tips to help you find 100% Kona beans:

  • Pay attention to where the beans are grown. Real best Kona coffee beans only grow in Hawaii. Be sure to check whether the Hawaiian brand mentions it in an advertisement or product description.
  • Visit the brand’s website to see how they source their beans. The coffee beans should be cultivated in the Kona district of the Big Island of Hawaii. If any other place is indicated, the coffee isn’t Kona.
  • Avoid brands that say “Hawaiian flavors,” but do not mention the Kona districts.

Where Can You Buy Kona Coffee? 

Kona coffee can be bought online, though because online retailers offer a large selection, it can be difficult to find 100% Kona coffee. To make it easy for you, we have done research and compiled a list of the best Kona coffee brands that supply beans directly from Hawaii.

1. Koa Coffee 

If you are a coffee connoisseur who wants only the best, here is best Kona coffee brand: Koa Coffee. It was featured in Forbes’ “Top 10 Coffees of the World.”

Koa’s Kona coffee is rich, smooth, and fragrant with sweet flavors. It’s good for any method of brewing, but it’s best for the French press and the Aeropress.

Koa Coffee provides only whole beans so you can grind your own coffee for better freshness.

Koa Coffee has different roasts available, and you can do a one-time purchase or subscribe to receive the coffee every 2, 4, or 8 weeks.

2. Volcanica Kona Peaberry Coffee

Do you want to feel something out of the ordinary? Volcanica Coffee Company’s Kona Peaberry Coffee has a sophisticated smooth and nutty taste. 

This product is certified by the State of Hawaii and contains 100% Kona beans. The beans are grown on the slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano, which has mineral-rich soils and a unique climate that allows the cultivation of one of the richest and most aromatic coffee varieties. 

Another advantage of this coffee is its low acid content. This means it gets along well with your stomach.

In 2006, Food and Wine magazine recognized their Kona coffee beans as one of the Top 10 in the world.

To ensure that you only get fresh beans, Volcania Coffee Company uses special packaging. Freshly roasted beans are poured into the packaging, which has a one-way valve to maintain freshness. 

3. Hawaii Coffee Company

Do you like light-roasted coffee beans? You’ll love Hawaii Coffee Company’s Hawaiian Lion 24K Gold Roast. 

This 100% Kona coffee product is a blend of light and medium roast Kona coffee beans. This coffee is more acidic and has fruity flavors. 

It is best for brewing in a French press and for cold brew coffee.

4. Bean Box Paradise Kona Coffee

Want to get best 100% Kona coffee beans in Hawaii? You are in the right place.

It’s noteworthy that these coffee beans are fully processed in Hawaii. It’s harvested, processed, and roasted in Hawaii, so you get the freshest beans.

This company sells Kona beans of the highest quality. The coffee has a smooth body with a thick flavor. You can taste sweetness with notes of nuts and spices, as well as the floral aftertaste of jasmine.

Bean Box Paradise Kona coffee is organic. This coffee will please espresso lovers. Both whole beans and ground coffee are available.

5. Blue Horse Kona Coffee

This product has been tested and certified to be 100% Kona coffee beans. 

Blue Horse produces coffee using beans from only one coffee bean farm. This Hawaiian Kona coffee is some of the best you can get. 

Another important feature of Blue Horse coffee is that each bean is picked by hand and dried directly in the sun. Plus, their coffee is grown without herbicides and pesticides. 

The company is known for its attention to every detail in Hawaii coffee beans production, and this guarantees the highest quality Kona coffee beans.

Types of Kona Coffee

Kona Coffee Brands

Kona Arabica is classified by type of bean:

Type I – two beans in one berry, the beans are flat on one side and oval on the other. Further gradation depends on quality:

  • Kona Extra Fancy;
  • Kona fancy;
  • Kona Number 1;
  • Kona Select;
  • Kona Prime.

Type II – one round bean in berry (peaberry):

  • Peaberry Number 1;
  • Peaberry Prime.

The lowest grade is called Number 3 or Triple X and cannot contain the word Kona; it is marketed under the brand name “Hawaiian coffee”.

Kona Coffee History

English sailors brought the first coffee seedlings from Brazil to Hawaii at the beginning of the 19th century.

It is believed that Spaniard Francisco de Paula Marina, an adviser to King Kamehameha I, first planted coffee on the island of Oahu. Then in 1828, American missionary Samuel Ruggles planted coffee trees on the Big Island in the Kona region, where they brought an excellent harvest. It was here that everything turned out to be extremely favorable for coffee growth: rich volcanic soil, special weather conditions and plantation heights above sea level.

Very soon, people began to plant trees all over Kona. So the industrial production of coffee in Hawaii was born, and the best Hawaiian coffee there was called Kona. The high quality of Kona coffee beans was first recognized in 1873 at the World Exhibition in Vienna when its seller Henry Nicholas Greenwell was awarded the prize for the excellence of this variety.

Today, Mr. Greenwell’s store in Kealakekua is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and functions as a museum. The descendants of Greenwell continue to grow, process and roast Kona coffee, and also organize excursions to their farms, where they acquaint those who wish with the process of growing coffee, the ways of its processing and roasting.

At the end of the 19th century, German breeder Hermann Weidemann brought a new coffee tree to the Kona region.

This plant, originally related to Guatemalan Arabica, became known as “Kona typical”
(in Hawaiian it is “Melian Koppe” – American coffee) and is now the most cultivated in the Kona area.

In 1899, when world coffee prices fell sharply and it became unprofitable for large plantations to grow beans, they leased small areas of plantations (from 5 to 15 acres) to farmers – this was the origin of the family farm tradition that exists in the Kona region to this day.

FAQ

What Is Kona coffee?

Kona coffee beans are an Arabica variety cultivated on the slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualālai in the North and South Kona districts of Hawaii’s Big Island. Kona coffee beans get their name from the region in which they grow.

Why is Kona coffee so good?

Kona is really great coffee. The success of their cultivation is due to the environment in which they’re grown. There are two active volcanoes on this part of the Big Island, and therefore the soil is porous and mineral-rich. The area also has an ideal climate for delicate trees: sunny mornings, rainy or windy evenings, and cool nights. All these factors make it possible to grow one of the most elite varieties of Arabica in the world: Kona.

What does the best Kona coffee taste like?

The taste of the finished drink largely depends on the degree of roasting. But in any case, the first thing you will notice when preparing the drink is its sweet aroma. When you take your first sip of Kona, you will notice a sweet, rich, juicy taste. Depending on the degree of roasting, Kona coffee can have hints of nuts or honey. Some brands and roasts have flavors like caramel, cocoa, and fruit. You will also love the bitter aftertaste of citrus and nuts.

Why is the best Kona coffee so expensive?

Unlike cheaper coffee varieties, which are grown on huge plantations, Kona is produced on a small scale. This process is very laborious and time-consuming. The price is also influenced by the conditions of coffee cultivation. Land in Hawaii is not cheap, and farmers have to pay their workers well. 

What is the best brewing method for Kona coffee?

Kona coffee can be brewed in any way you like. Choose the method according to the roast, your preferences, and the equipment you have. With an espresso machine, you can get the most intense coffee taste, and if you want a simple but effective method, then choose a French press.

Does Kona coffee have a guarantee of quality?

Kona is a small region where beans are grown. However, in it, all the same, different areas are producing a product of different quality. Each Kona packaging is tested and evaluated by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDA). If you need top-quality products, look for the HDA mark on the packaging. Evaluation is based on various criteria: shape, size, rarity, moisture content, and bean composition. Most often, quality is high. Roasters prefer to use the least imperfect beans. If the product has chips, cavities or deformation, then it will not be roasted evenly. Because of this, the beans will not be as tasty as they could be. There are eight categories of quality guarantee: Extra Fancy, Fancy, 1, Select, Prime, 3, Natural Prime, and Mixed Natural Prime.

Conclusion

If you are a coffee fan, like me, then you need to try Kona at least once in your life. Although true Kona is more expensive than other varieties, it is worth it. You will be rewarded with a delicious taste. Do not forget to enjoy every sip of this delicious, soft, aromatic drink with pleasure. Do not rush perfection!

Sources:

  1. Kona coffee – Wikipedia
  2. HAWAII’S COFFEE INDUSTRY – Hawaii Department of Agriculture
  3. Is Your Kona Coffee Real? – Food and Wine
  4. Kona Coffee – Why Such a Hot Commodity? – HawaiiLife

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