Are you looking for the best Kona coffee brands? This article from a Hawaii local has everything you need to know.
Kona coffee is widely regarded as the best type of coffee in the world. Between the mineral-rich soil and the year-round warm weather, Kona is the perfect place to grow rich, flavorful coffee beans.
That said, it can be hard to decide which Kona coffee brand is the best. After all, there are nearly 700 Kona coffee farms! But don’t worry – I’m here to share the best Kona coffee brands for you to try.
Disclosure: This article is written in partnership with Big Island Coffee Roasters. All opinions are from Borders & Bucket Lists.
Kona Coffee Questions
Is Coffee Native to Hawaii?
No, coffee is actually not native to Hawaii. Coffee was first introduced to the islands from Brazil in the 1820s. This new crop was originally planted in Manoa Valley on Oahu, but the coffee struggled to survive. As a matter of fact, coffee crops in Hawaii didn’t thrive for quite a few years – at least until coffee was planted in the Big Island’s rich soil in 1828. And, as they say, the rest is history.
Why Is Kona Coffee So Expensive?
The easy answer is because everything in Hawaii in general is expensive. There is limited land in Hawaii, which means that there can be limited coffee crops. And the land in mineral-rich Kona is even more limited. So while this rare soil is what makes Kona coffee so flavorful, it’s also what makes it so pricey.
On top of that, the many Kona coffee brands hand pick the coffee berries (or coffee cherries, which are the fruits that hold the coffee beans), so there is also a high cost of labor to factor in.
All of that said, if you consider yourself a coffee connoisseur and can afford it, Kona coffee is worth the bang for your buck. It’s definitely some of the highest quality coffee out there – if not the highest quality.
What Are Kona Coffee Blends?
If you’re committed to getting 100% Kona coffee, you need to make sure you do your research In order to be considered Kona coffee, blends need to have just 10% of its beans sourced from Kona. That means 90% of the beans can be from literally anywhere else in the world! So you need to be especially vigilant and look for products that say 100% Kona coffee.
Luckily, I’m here to help you out, and I’ve shared quite a few 100% Kona coffee products from the best Kona coffee brands down below.
What’s the Difference Between Kona Coffee and Hawaiian Coffee?
Kona coffee is grown specifically in the volcanic-rich soil in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. Hawaiian coffee can be grown anywhere in the Hawaiian islands. Again, if you’re committed to buying 100% Kona coffee, make sure it also says “Kona” specifically, as opposed to “100% Hawaiian coffee.”
The Best Kona Coffee Brands
Big Island Coffee Roasters
In recent years, Big Island Coffee Roasters has established itself as one of the best Kona coffee brands – if not, the best. First of all, Big Island Coffee Roasters has won countless awards, including 2022 Microroaster of the Year Finalist by Roast Magazine and 2022 Best Local Coffee Company by Honolulu Magazine.
If you want a taste of this award-winning coffee (which you most definitely should), Big Island Coffee Roasters has quite a few 100% Kona coffee options to choose from. Their 100% Kona Peaberry Coffee, 100% Kona Bloom, and 100% Kona Moon are all popular options.
And last but certainly not least, we can’t forget to mention Big Island Coffee Roasters’ fantastic commitment to sustainability. This Kona coffee brand runs on 100% renewable energy, sources beans from local Hawaii farmers, and donates a part of their profits to wildlife rescue and habitat restoration charities. So as you get your morning caffeine fix, you can know you’re putting a little extra good out into the world too.
*Bonus: Big Island Coffee Roasters also produces a revolutionary “chocolate” bar, in which cocoa beans are swapped for Kona coffee beans! Officially known as Espresso Bites, these unique, yet delicious bars are a perfect snack whenever you need a little caffeine fix.
Like Big Island Coffee Roasters, Koa Coffee has won more than its fair share of incredible accolades. The PCCA Coffee of the Year, the Gevalia Cupping Competition, and Forbes’ Best Coffee in America are just the start.
With its running list of awards, it’s clear that you can’t go wrong with any of Koa Coffee’s 100% Kona coffee products. But if you need a little guidance, the Estate Medium Roast Whole Bean 100% Kona Coffee, the Peaberry Medium Roast Whole Bean 100% Kona Coffee, and the Private Reserve Dark Roast Whole Bean 100% Kona Coffee are all fantastic.
Royal Kona Coffee – Hawaiian Coffee Company
The Hawaii Coffee Company is the largest roaster of Kona coffee on the entire planet! And part of this is because the Hawaii Coffee Company has a few different brands under its umbrella. You might be most familiar with its LION Coffee brand, but we’re here to highlight their Royal Kona Coffee brand.
As the name implies, the Royal Kona Coffee branch of the Hawaii Coffee Company is dedicated to Kona coffee in particular. But not every product is 100% Kona coffee (some just have 10%), so you’ll still need to be vigilant! That said, the Private Reserve Medium Roast 100% Kona Coffee and the Whole Bean Peaberry Medium Roast 100% Kona Coffee are sure to please.
Hula Daddy Kona Coffee
Hula Daddy Kona Coffee is one of the few Kona coffee brands that ONLY produces 100% Kona coffee (at least, as of October 2022). That means you don’t really have to keep an eye out for slightly misleading notes, such as “Kona Coffee” (without a percentage) or “100% Hawaiian coffee” (which is still great, but not the same as 100% Kona coffee).
And while Hula Daddy Kona Coffee certainly serves up a great product – try the Karen J Red Bourbon Coffee, you won’t regret it – this Kona coffee farm is actually most well-known for being a great place to visit on the Big Island.
While at the farm, you can learn just about everything you’d like to know about a good ‘ole cup of Joe. Visit the coffee orchard, pop into the roasting room, and even enjoy a free coffee tasting. To no one’s surprise, it’s one of the best places for coffee in Kona.
Mountain Thunder Coffee
Like Hula Daddy Kona Coffee, Mountain Thunder Coffee is one of the only Kona coffee brands that produces ONLY 100% Kona coffee. But on top of that, Mountain Thunder Coffee is one of the rare brands that has ORGANIC 100% Kona Coffee, which is quite a treat.
You truly can’t go wrong with Mountain Thunder Coffee’s 100% Kona Private Reserve. With the perfect balance of acidity, aroma, and flavor, you’ll be excited to start your mornings with a cup of this fancy Kona coffee.
*Pro Tip: You can sometimes find Mountain Thunder Coffee’s 100% Kona Coffee at Costco (especially at locations in Hawaii) for a more affordable price.
Heavenly Hawaiian Kona Coffee Farm
Last but not least, we have Heavenly Hawaiian Kona Coffee Farm. This little company has dozens of awards to its name. As a matter of fact, just their Kona Silk coffee has won 13 awards! In other words, it’s undoubtedly worth a try.
To make things even better, if you happen to be in Kona, Heavenly Hawaiian Kona Coffee Farm offers incredible farm tours. There, you’ll learn everything you could ever wanted to know about Kona coffee beans.
Have you tried any of these incredible Kona coffee brands? Let us know in the comments below!
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