Kona Coffee: A Beginner’s Guide

Kona Coffee - Featured Image

Have you ever wondered what it's like to sip on a rare and highly esteemed coffee? Enter Kona Coffee. This kind of coffee is so rare that you can only find it in a few regions of Hawaii. In particular, it is found on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa, and it only grows in February and March.

Kona Coffee Facts

Kona Coffee is regarded as the most sought-after single-origin coffee in existence. It is so special that even the famous Mark Twain dubbed it as the most flavorful coffee that he's ever had.

What makes it so special? What is the reason behind this hype over one particular coffee? Let us check some of the factors that make this Hawaiian coffee famous:

Unique Flavor Profile

Kona Coffee Flavor Profile

Kona coffee has a distinct subdued body and has bright acidity. On your first try, it is highly recommended to choose light roast. This way, you'll be able to identify some flavors of butter, macadamia, berries, and chocolate. On a medium roast, you'll get a more full-bodied flavor as well as a strong aroma that's leveled by the fruity flavors on the surface.

Volcanic Hawaiian Soil

Kona Coffee Volcanic Soil from Hawaii

You probably know how the taste of wine differs considerably, depending on where it is grown. Well, that's true for coffee too. Kona Coffee grows in volcanic Hawaiian soil that's rich in minerals. Aside from that, the western slopes of the Kona Mountains provide shelter to these plants.

Then, the rest is up to the tropical Hawaiian climate - light and sunny mornings with a little bit of drizzle throughout the day. Light rains give the soil natural irrigation.

Counterfeit Kona Coffee

Fake Kona Coffee Products

In 1994, the Kona brand was hit by controversy. Michael Norton, a large-scale supplier, bought cheap coffee beans from other parts of the United States and then falsely labeled them as Kona Coffee. It changed public perception of the brand since then.

Nowadays, there's a system that verifies the origin of the coffee beans. It also became illegal to use the Kona name, unless it was verified from the source.

Kona Blend and 100% Pure Kona

It goes without saying that Kona Coffee is two to three times more expensive than the run of the mill coffee beans sold in supermarkets. Make sure to look for the Kona Blend label. By Hawaiian law, coffee producers are required to have at least 10% of pure Kona Coffee in order to legally use the label on their products.

If you want the true Kona coffee experience, however, choose a 100% Pure Kona Bean package of the highest grade.

7 Grade Bands

Kona coffee is divided into various grade bands. Grading is based on the bean size, novelty, and uniformity. Outlined below are 7 different grade bands from the highest quality down to the acceptable grade limit:

Extra Fancy

This is the best Kona coffee bean that you can find. It is considered as the truest form of Kona coffee. It is also the smoothest among all the bean grades. Producers that pass this standard only account for 20% of the entire Kona cofee production.

Extra Fancy Kona coffee beans are the highly regarded because of their uniform color, large size, and virtually zero defect.


This is not far off from the Extra Fancy grade. The only difference is that Fancy grade coffee has a little bit more texture. However, it still maintains some of the smooth consistency.

No. 1

Also known as commercial grade Kona coffee, these are mid-sized coffee beans that hold a bolder flavor than Fancy grade.


Select is often called Estate Grade. It refers to the beans that have not been sorted. In Select, you can find a good mixture of Kona coffee beans from the other grade bands.


When it comes to the acceptable size limit of a single Kona coffee bean, Prime coffee beans are the smallest. Anything smaller is no longer acceptable to the Kona coffee standards. Prime retains some smoothness, but is less pronounced.

No. 3

35% of the coffee beans of No. 3 are defective and about 5% could be burnt flavor, moldy, or even sour. This is the lowest acceptable standard for Kona coffee. Many coffee afficionados avoid the No. 3 grade.

Buy Authentic Kona Coffee

If you're looking for 100% authentic Kona coffee, then look no further. Here are the best ones that we've found:

Volcanica Coffee Hawaiian Kona Coffee Extra Fancy, 100% Pure

The Hawaiian Kona Extra Fancy Coffee from Volcania is the best of the best. It has a refined taste, smooth body, superb aroma, and a buttery richness with nutty cinnamon and clove overtones.

Kona Coffee and Tea Medium Roast, 100% Kona Coffee

Maui Coffee Kona Pure Ecstasy in Keurig K-Cups

If you have a Keurig machine at home or in the office, then this is your best option for Kona coffee. The Maui Coffee Kona Coffee K-cups are are made of 100% pure Kona coffee and are packed fresh every single time.

Single Serve Coffee Maker Reviews, Tips and Top 5

Check out our top 5 single serve coffee makers and find out what we have to say on each one.

You won't find Kona Coffee in many parts of the world. If you happen to visit a country with Kona Coffee available, you should definitely try it out. It may be a bit expensive, but will be worth it in the end.

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