Kona Coffee

Aloha to Hawaii's Kona Coast Coffee

 

Welcome to the Kona coffee page. You should know that Kona is one of the most written about coffees, reflecting its majestic standing among coffees. Firstly, for the coffee to be called "Kona" it can only come from the west facing slopes of Mount Hualalai and Mount Mauna Loa straddling the North and South Kona Districts of the Big Island of Hawaii. The distinction is made because there are other coffee plantations in the state of Hawai'i.

Pure 100% Kona coffee is a deliciously rich, medium-bodied and slightly acidic coffee with a heady aroma and complex, winey, spicy taste.

 

The Kona Coffee Council formed by and for the family run coffee farms, sums up its luscious produce in this verse:

"Rocky volcano slopes nurture it.

Sun-drenched mornings ripen it.

Misty afternoons refresh it.

Six hundred farmers meticulously handpick it. "

Coffee plants were introduced to Kona in the 19th century by Samuel, the Reverend Ruggles from Brazilian Arabica cuttings, although it was not until much later that it became an income generating crop.

It was originally grown on large plantations, but the crash in the world coffee market in 1899 caused plantation owners to have to lease out their land to their workers. Most of these workers were originally from Japan, brought in to tend and harvest sugar cane. They worked their leased land parcels of between 5 and 12 acres as family concerns, producing large, quality coffee crops. Today, Filipinos and Caucasians have become smallholders. That is a brief historical background that helps understand the link between the Japanese in their homeland and their love for coffee. Coffee production is still a mainly family business with concern for meticulous cultivation techniques.

As it turns out, Hawaii is the only state in the United States that grows coffee.

What really sets Kona coffee from the rest of the brews?

For starters, there is a unique term used only in Hawaii's Big Island - it is "Kona Snow" - an apt description for the white coloured, sweet-smelling blossoms that cover the trees at intervals from January through to May.

Secondly, Kona coffee plants are cultivated in a dark nutrient-rich volcanic soil that contains the perfect blend of minerals and acids to retain just the right amount of water that the plants need.

Thirdly, the Hawaiian climate is just right also. The coffee plants - more like shrubs flourish under dependable layers of cloud and mists particularly in the afternoons providing automatic shade that protect the growths from the glaring sun. Aside from the right amount of sunlight, Kona coffee also receives the perfect amount of rain which is also essential for its growth.

And fourthly, the precious Kona coffee is handpicked with care. This is to make sure that only the finest quality beans are harvested for coffee production and later for distribution and retail.

From picking the beans they are washed, fermented/pulped, and then dried. After which, they are hulled before they are graded. The beans are then sorted depending on their shapes and sizes by machinery. The first on the line is the rounded single peaberry bean variety. Although this coffee bean has a more concentrated flavor, this only makes up a small portion of the total harvest of Kona coffee. 

After sorting the beans by grades, the Kona coffee is then dried under the sun and custom roasted for a more desirable result followed by immediately being ground into coffee powder or the beans readied to be sent to the processors. Depending on the fullness of the flavour there maybe another step of spraying with a water and given flavour of coffee to enrich the end result. Immediately after roasting and right before packing, oxidation begins.

Once packed, whole Kona beans, stored in containers can retain their freshness for almost two months as opposed to just one month in the finely ground form. Hence why Kona Farmers recommend buying whole bean Kona. 

There is strict labelling for the 100% pure Kona coffee.It is important to read the label where it will state clearly whether the coffee is 100% or a blend with other beans. The label should also contain a Kona Coffee Council Seal of Approval. There are some 100 brands of pure Kona to choose from.

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