Kona Coffee

Kona Coffee is a world-renowned coffee that is grown and cultivated in the Kona District on the Island of Hawai’i. And that is the only coffee that can truthfully be called “Kona Coffee”. Because of the unfortunate lack of regulations protecting the rare Kona Coffee bean, “Kona Coffee Blends” that dominate the market need to have just 10% Kona Coffee in the package to carry the Kona Coffee name; the other 90% of coffee in the package can be (and almost always is) grown elsewhere.

For over 180 years, Kona Coffee has been grown in Hawai’i. First brought to Napo’opo’o, South Kona by the Reverend Samuel Ruggles, an American missionary, the beans thrived in the easy-draining volcanic soil on the western slopes of dormant volcanoes – Mauna Loa and Hualalai.

Besides the rarity of being grown on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Kona Coffee’s growing region only measures about 30 square miles. The best Kona Coffee beans are grown above 800 feet altitude; below that the weather is too hot and dry to sustain abundant coffee crops. The narrow growing belt for Kona Coffee is only between 800 and 2500 feet above sea level– higher than that and the seasonal rain rhythm disappears enabling the natural rain forest to take over. In this growing environment, coffee plants would bloom and fruit the entire year, making farming of the coffee difficult.

Most Kona Coffee is still grown on small to medium farms of less than 10 acres. Although there are a few investors who have been able to grind down the hardened lava that dots Kona’s landscape to make it easier to farm, it is rare to have a coffee farm larger than 50 acres. The district of Kona is known for its rocky soil, making the cultivation of Kona Coffee labor intensive: each tree has to be handpicked repeatedly during the growing and harvesting season that stretches over 6 months.

The coffee beans are picked by hand, pulped, dried and hulled. The next all-important step is the grading of the coffee beans according to size and quality. This step is crucial to maintaining the integrity and quality of 100% Pure Kona Coffee. The beans are graded in descending order: Peaberry, Extra Fancy, Fancy, #1 and Prime. Peaberry results when only one bean, instead of the normal two beans, grows in the coffee cherry. Because of the added weight of this bean, many coffee gourmets claim that this rarest grade of Kona Coffee has a distinctive taste. Extra Fancy, Fancy and #1 each have a huge fan base claiming their favorite to have the best cupping qualities. Prime grade, which is bought up in large quantities by mainland coffee roasters who use it in master blends, is the minimum grade of bean that is allowed to be called Kona Coffee.

Kona Coffee is not only the premier Hawaiian coffee known worldwide, it is the foundation of a coffee culture that has grown up around it on the Island of Hawai’i. Many tourists to the Island of Hawai’i come specifically to visit the coffee farms in the Kona district.

Where to Buy Kona Coffee Online

Company Name Description Pure or Blend Price per lb. Shipping Cost
Amazon.com Amazon has an extensive selection of Kona varieties from a number of different sellers. Free shipping applies to many orders, outstanding satisfaction and return policy, and they can also ship internationally. Have Both $varies Free, see details
Kona Mountain Has farm & tour, has won awards at Kona Coffee festival, has 2 coffee retail shops (Kona & Honolulu) Pure $29.95
Top seller – Private Reserve
Free on orders over $75
Coffee Times Publishes Coffee Times Magazine, Has Zero Shelf Life Policy – all coffee fresh roasted & shipped to order only Pure $28 Peaberry & Extra Fancy, $30 Certified Organic FedEx $14/lb
Priority Mail $11/lb
Maui Coffee Co. Sells 100% Maui & Kona coffee and blends in 8 oz bags. Volume discounts given Pure & blends $32 Kona Peaberry Not clear on website, total out at time of checkout
Kona Coffee Cafe Offers 100% Kona Decaf Coffee. Join VIP Kona Coffee Club & they ship free monthly as long as you buy 1 lb. each month Pure $42 Ships Priority Mail
Athena of Hawaii Markets coffee as grown on their Kona family farm w/Athena as an 11 yr old girl Pure $29.50 Free shipping
Hawaiian Isles Kona Coffee Co. They sell cheap blends in a “clearance” section in their online store. Welcomes applications for wholesale accounts Pure & blends $34 Not clear on website, total out at time of checkout
KonaCoffee.com Pure $34 Peaberry Priority Mail, $7.50 for 1st lb, $3.50 ea add’l lb.
Bay View Farm Coffee Farm & Mill open 7 days/wk. Their website states that they have been forced to raise prices for first time in years due to drought & Coffee Berry Borer Beetle Pure $28 Peaberry Not clear on website, total out at time of checkout
Volcanica Coffee Also sells coffee on website from other countries such as Kenya, Costa Rica, etc. Pure $40 Extra Fancy Free shipping on 4 or more items; they charge $10/lb standard UPS, $45/lb overnight
Martinez Coffee Only sells 1 type of Kona Coffee (Honaunau Estates). Sells estates, specialty & blended coffees from other coffee-producing countries Pure and blends $40 Not clear on website, total out at time of checkout
Keke Lani Estate Has 6.5 acre coffee farm in Kona. They sell an Estate Blend that is 100% Kona but a blend of their different grades Pure 1 lb = $25
5 lb = $112
Priority Mail
Up to 2 lb $4.95
>2-4 lb $10.35
>4-10 lb shipping is free
Sweet Okole Coffee Company Distributed by Harrington’s Estate Farm Pure $29.50 Peaberry incl free Priority Mail shipping Most items have shipping included
Royal Kona Coffee You can shop at 3 websites & combine into 1 shopping cart: Royal Kona, Lion Coffee & Hawaiian Islands Tea. Offers free shipping with Coffee Club members & min shipping requirements, has a Royal Kona Visitors Center in Capt. Cook Pure and blends $34 Peaberry Not clear on website, total out at time of checkout
Koa Coffee Plantation Has a Coffee Club membership to save on shipping Pure $33 Peaberry Usually ships by Fed Ex, totals out at checkout
Pele Plantations Sells coffee from different Kona estates, doesn’t blend estate coffees. Offers a tour of their farm Pure $30 Peaberry Totals out at checkout depending on what type of shipping you choose