Kona coffee is prepared from coffee beans which are cultivated in the northern and southern Kona districts of the Hawaii Islands. They are known to be one of the most rare and hence expensive coffee beans of the world. They are hence often not packaged on their own but blended with other varieties like Brazilian or Columbian coffee, and such coffee often contains just 10% of Kona beans. Kona region of Hawaii has favorable climatic conditions for cultivating these coffee beans, namely sunny mornings, afternoon rains, mild nights and mineral rich soil of volcanic region.
Kona Coffee History
Kona Koffee was originally introduced in Hawaii's Kona District by Samuel Reverend Ruggles in 1828, who brought the plant from Brazil. The credit for establishment of Kona as a brand in the world of coffee can be given to the British merchant Henry Nicholas Greenwell, who moved to the region and popularized the brand in the 19th century. What was then the Greenwell Store and the Kona Koffee Living History Farm has now been converted to museums that tell a lot about Kona coffee history.
The Kona farms are often traditional family farms, mostly owned by Japanese farmers, and others like Europeans, Filipinos and Americans. The total number of Kona plantations of coffee is about 800, and covers an area of 9 square kilometers.
Cultivation of Kona Coffee Beans
The Kona beans are picked between August and January, and each coffee tree yields 20 to 30 pounds of coffee cherry, after several rounds of hand-picking. Within 24 hours from the time of picking, the cherries are sent through a pulper where the coffee beans separate from the coffee pulp, and are then sent to a fermenting tank. After fermentation which takes 12 to 24 hours, the beans are dried in racks. The dried beans are roasted for use as an ingredient for preparing the coffee beverage.
Popular Variations of Kona Coffee
Coffee beans from Kona are available in different varieties, with variations in the number of beans per cherry, size, shape, moisture content, etc. The grades are named Type I, Type II and Number 3.
Kona pure coffee is very highly priced, and the rare coffee is often blended with other varieties like Brazilian and Columbian coffee for consumption. The blends may contain as low as 10% of Kona coffee, rest being contributed by other variants. Hawaiian state laws require the percentage composition of the blend to be stated on the label.
Kona Coffee Beans Trivia
- A beetle called 'coffee berry borer' is a major threat to Kona cultivators, as it has the potential to reduce Kona yield by as high as 90%.
- Several Kona farms in the Hawaii have become attractions for tourists in the recent times, and some roadside gift shops selling the Kona coffee beans run on special permits here.