Know How to Identify Authentic Kona Coffee Before Making a Purchase

For the casual coffee drinker that appreciates a quality cup of coffee, Kona coffee from Hawaii is a special treat. Although demand puts a premium on authentic beans, they are worth every penny.

A Brief Background

Authentic Kona beans are grown on the big Island of Hawaii in the Kona district. This special coffee is cultivated at elevations from around fourteen hundred to two thousand feet on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa, where pockets of rich volcanic soil create the optimum conditions for fine coffee. One tree will normally only produce two pounds of roasted coffee per growing season, and harvesting is usually done by hand. Coffee cultivation arrived in the Kona district in the early part of the 19th century, and today there about 800 coffee farms with an average size of less than 5 acres.

100% Kona Coffee

In an increasingly global market where counterfeits and misleading products abound, the coffee industry is unfortunately not immune. This prized beverage from Hawaii is often misrepresented as a “Kona blend” or “Kona Roast,” which does not necessarily guarantee that you are getting what you are paying for. Coffee consumers would be doing themselves a favor to take a moment to understand the difference. While a “Kona Blend” may sound like a mixture of Kona beans, it is most often a small percentage of true Kona coffee from Hawaii mixed with lesser quality varieties from other countries. Often the presence of real Kona beans in these blends is as little as 10%. Authentic Hawaiian specialty coffee is strictly graded and divided into 2 types and several grades. Type I are Kona Extra Fancy, Kona Fancy, Kona Number 1, Kona Select, and Kona Prime. Type II selections are Peaberry Number 1 and Peaberry Prime.

To be considered authentic, the state of Hawaii requires the label to read “100% Kona Coffee.” This labeling was registered as an official certification mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office in 2000.

Hawaii is the only U.S. state to commercially grow coffee. The Kona variety is grown on estates, and certain distributors will have a partnership with one or several estates where they source their authentic Kona coffee beans. Whenever purchasing specialty Hawaiian coffee, be certain to look for the Seal of Approval and the phrasing 100% Kona Coffee. The deceptive label “blend” not only hurts consumers, but it is also damaging to the livelihood of those that are ethically cultivating and distributing premium Kona coffee.


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