For 2022's Ameri-Kona release, we asked our friends at Honolulu Coffee to stop by our blog and explain a little more about one of the main components of the blend.
Honolulu Coffee is based out of Honolulu, HI, where they have several cafes and roast their coffee near downtown Honolulu.
We're excited to be here on the Kaldi's Coffee blog talking about Kona coffee alongside their Ameri-Kona blend special release. As you might guess, this a topic near and dear to our hearts.
Over the years, Kona coffee has become synonymous with Hawaii. There are many people that put experiencing Kona coffee on the shortlist of things to do on their getaway, and buying a bag of Kona coffee online has become a way for many to relive their Hawaiian experience. There's just something about its taste that transports you back to the islands. It’s always a thrill to see the passion and excitement on our customer's faces every day when we serve them our coffee.
Here, we'll be giving you some brief but thorough details on:
- the history of Kona coffee
- what makes Kona coffee so special
- our Farm to Cup Kona coffee experience
The Honolulu Coffee Experience Center near downtown Honolulu, HI
The History of Kona Coffee
Despite Kona coffee’s popularity and high demand, it may surprise you to learn that this coffee, or any coffee, isn't originally native to Hawaii! Instead, coffee was first introduced to Hawaii by way of Brazil in the 1820's. By 1828, the first ever coffee trees were planted in the Kona region, on the westward volcanic slopes of the Big Island.
As the decades went on, Kona survived via small family holdings, farmed by migrant workers, who did their work in the off-season, when they weren’t contracted to work on the much larger, more lucrative sugar and pineapple plantations. But even without it being a core focus, the Kona coffee varieties continued to quietly develop and improve.
Beginning in the 1980s, Kona coffee began to experience its long-awaited resurgence, along with the rest of specialty coffee all around the globe. As sugar and other cash crops declined, and coffee enthusiasts of the world turned to better tasting and more ethically sourced coffees, Kona was able to reclaim its earlier fame.
What Makes Kona Coffee So Special?
Hawaii is the only geographical region in the United States capable of producing the quality of coffee beans that are classified as specialty coffee. This, paired with a few other facts and elements as mentioned below, has led to Kona becoming a household name.
Elevation, climate, and region: Compared to global coffee production, coffees in Hawaii are grown at a lower relative elevation. But because Hawaii is so much farther north of the equator than many other coffee regions, smaller changes in elevation have a larger impact on the coffee’s quality by allowing access to cooler air and the necessary blend of sunlight and moisture. The climate in Hawaii’s Kona region, and the mineral-rich volcanic soils of Mauna Loa’s steep slopes, ensure exceptional conditions for growing some of the world's best coffee.
Tough standards: Unfortunately, unscrupulous traders have been known to pass off other coffees as Kona coffee. The State of Hawaii issued legislation in 2003 to regulate this abuse of the Kona coffee name, and has more recently been considering even stricter standards on the use of Kona coffee in mixed-origin blends. Kona coffee is only grown on about 6 square miles, making it a hard-to-find, high-end product. In short, the perfect target, unfortunately, for food fraud. Tough standards and transparency are some of the tools we use to combat this.
The mystique: Allow us to get a little sentimental here. Kona coffee is more than just a name or a type; Kona coffee means Hawaiian coffee, in form and spirit. In the fruit and seeds of Kona coffee, we are mindful of the rich volcanic soil of the Big Island, and the deep, red-hot roots beneath the earth. In Kona, we taste the sky that brings cooling rain and the warm sun that dapples the coffee farms in the shade of ancient ohia forest.
Our Farm to Cup
We have the privilege, responsibility, and advantage of owning our own Kona farm located on the beautiful slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano. Our Kona coffee farm, obviously, plays a pivotal role in the quality chain. Afternoon cloud cover, nutrient-rich volcanic soil, and tropical rains make our farm's location an ideal place for producing and cultivating this world-famous coffee. Our Kona coffee farm understands that the growing process simply can't be rushed. Slow maturation of our coffee trees produces the optimal coffee cherries, which are handpicked, wet-processed and sun-dried.
This coffee is then processed and delivered to our roasting facility in our Honolulu Coffee Experience Center, giving our guests a true farm to cup Kona coffee experience.
When it's all said and done, all it takes is just one sip to instantly give coffee drinkers from all over the world a true taste of the spirit of Hawaii. This is the power and the potential of Kona coffee, and we take pride in nurturing this experience from farm to cup.
Drinking Kona anywhere is a pleasure and a luxury, but there is something special about drinking it where it was grown. If you ever find yourself in Hawaii, we invite you to come visit! You can watch us roast our coffee inside our Experience Center near downtown Honolulu any day of the week, then bring paradise home to your kitchen by buying a bag in any of our cafes, or relive those sweet island mornings by ordering any of our pure Kona coffee offerings on our website.