Real Kona Coffee or Overpriced Impostor?
Are you buying genuine Kona Coffee or are you getting tricked? Many people think they are buying pure kona coffee but they are being taken for a ride.
There are a number of brands of “kona coffee” that consist of 10% kona coffee beans blended with 90% coffee beans coming from places like South America. Now I am not going to name names of the brands that are doing this, but just look at the label of the “kona coffee” that you are buying. If you are buying a “kona coffee blend” this is usually going to be 10% kona coffee, mixed with coffee from someplace else.
If you want pure kona coffee, you really need to read the label and it should say 100% kona coffee. Then you will know that you are getting the real deal. And if you haven’t had 100% pure kona coffee, I think that you are doing yourself a disservice if you call yourself a coffee connoisseur. I really struggle to come up with the words to describe it. But let’s just say that it is really good. And I urge you not to let a kona coffee blend muddle your experience of pure kona coffee.
Where does Kona Coffee come from?
Kona coffee comes from a very small region on a very small island. Yes, I know that we call this Island the Big Island, but it is very small in the grand scheme of things. It is so tiny in comparison to Australia, which is the biggest island in the world that it is almost hard to spot on a map.
The Big Island of Hawaii is located smack-dab in the middle of the world’s largest ocean: the Pacific Ocean. (As a brief side note, some scientists think that the Pacific Ocean was formed when a massive asteroid hit the Earth and gouged out a huge crater that eventually filled with water. What became of this asteroid and massive chunk of the planet? These same scientists say that it got trapped in the Earth’s gravitational field and became the Moon.)
Kona coffee is grown in what is called the Kona Coffee Belt. The Kona Coffee Belt is a small strip of land at roughly three thousand feet of elevation that runs through the districts of North and South Kona. Sure there are coffee plants grown on other parts of the Big Island of Hawaii and in other parts of the world. But only coffee that is grown in the Kona Coffee belt is allowed to be called Kona Coffee. The Kona Coffee belt is incredibly tiny. It is roughly thirty square miles. Now this might sound like a lot but it really isn’t. And keep in mind that the Kona Coffee belt isn’t packed solid with coffee trees, but it is just the region that Kona Coffee farms are located in. A lot of this area consists of lava, forests and hills that are too steep to collect enough dirt to support coffee plants.
What makes Kona Coffee so Special?
There are a lot of theories as to what makes Kona Coffee special. Some say it is the rich volcanic soil. Others say that it is the warm Kona sun and daily afternoon rain showers.
But for me, it just has an amazing aroma and taste that simply reminds me of home. It is just a really great coffee that I simply do not have the words to describe. You just have to taste and smell it for yourself. But I warn you, it’s easy to get addicted to its sumptuous taste. And your kona coffee habit can get expensive. But I think that it is well worth paying up to get some of the best coffee that money can buy. Don’t you?
Another thing that makes Kona Coffee special is that it is one of the few coffees that are grown in the United States. Sure coffee is grown in Puerto Rico, but Puerto Rico is a United States possession and not a state. At least, it was the last time I checked. So the only coffees produced in the United States are produced in Hawaii. Coffee is grown on some of the other Hawaiian Islands, but so far only Kona Coffee has gained international recognition. But hopefully coffees from other districts and other Hawaii Islands will gain the recognition that they deserve.
Most Kona coffee is grown on small family farms. Some of these farms are being run by the second or even the third generation of family farmers now. And this is another thing that makes kona coffee distinctive. It is not produced by some huge multi-national agri-business conglomerate, but it is produced by people with a deep passion and heritage with growing and producing coffee. A great deal of care is taken by these family farmers to grow their impressive coffees and they tend to take a great deal of pride in producing the freshest product. Beans are quickly, picked and sorted and processed. They aren’t left around to sit a long time after being picked. I’m sure that you can tell the difference that fresh coffee beans make.
Kona Coffee Berry Borer Beetle
The coffee berry borer is a scourge on the Kona coffee industry. The beetle originally came from Africa and it causes more than $500 billion dollars in damage to the world’s coffee crop and it is doing significant damage in Kona too. This pernicious beetle lays its eggs in the berries or fruit of kona coffee trees and when these eggs hatch they produce larva which then proceed to eat the coffee bean, which we kona coffee lovers cherish so dearly.
The coffee beetle causes an enormous amount of damage on the Kona coffee farms of the Big Island and they have made a huge dent in production. And we all know that when dwindling supply meets rising demand prices can go up significantly. So another reason why kona coffee prices are rising is that this coffee beetle is hampering kona coffee supplies, while kona coffee drinkers, like us, still keep on drinking more of this wonderful brew than ever.
Kona Coffee Controversy
Okay, so you’ve read my post and I know that I come across as critical of kona coffee blends.
Am I being too harsh? Or am I being too lenient?
If you are a Kona Coffee grower, do you feel that blends help the overall market or hurt the market for Kona Coffee?
If you are a coffee drinker, do you feel that the labeling of Kona Coffee blends is deceptive or is it fine that blends are marketed the way that they currently are?
I have opened up comments on this post, so feel free to have your say. All I ask is that you keep your comments civil and on topic. Arguing for or against a position on this matter is fine, but ad hominem arguments are not.
Please use the “tweet” or “share” buttons, if you would like to invite your friends to weigh in on this matter.