Kona coffee is one of the most prized coffees of the world. If you have heard of this famous coffee you most probably want to try a cup or two when you are on Hawaii – and you should. Kona coffee gets much of its fame from the unique combination of rich volcanic soil, sunny mornings and cloudy or rainy afternoons on the western slopes of the Hualalai and Mauna Loa volcanoes.
This fame also has a downside. Because of great international demand Kona coffee is one of the most expensive coffees in the world. This has led the rise of more affordable “Kona Blends” that carry only 10% Kona beans and that fit better into the average budget. If you want to take home real, 100% Hawaiian coffee but are unwilling to pay the Kona price, there are good alternatives that few people outside Hawaii know of.
Ka’u, Puna and Hamakua Coffee
Kona coffee is not the only coffee grown on the Hawaiian Islands. There are many different beans being grown all over the Big Island, each with their own unique taste. Kona coffee is not by default the most tasty coffee you will find on Hawaii. Rather, which coffee you will like most depends a lot on personal preference much like with wines. Do you prefer a Merlot to a Cabernet, or is the Pinot Noir perhaps your champion?
The following coffees don’t have the outstanding marketing and good public relations as Kona coffee. This means they are not as well know and thus much more affordable. Especially if you are planning to take some Hawaiian coffee home as a gift, consider getting some of these coffees. You can typically find these beans at farmers markets (in Kona, Volcano, Waimea or Hilo), in local retail stores, or online.
Taste away while you are on the Big Island, and keep an open mind. Just because the beans are not as well know or expensive as Kona beans, does not mean they are less tasty!
Ka’u coffee has a floral bouquet, distinctive aroma and very smooth taste, and is an ‘up and coming’ coffee on Hawaii. For the last four years, Ka’u Coffee gained top ten placing in tasting competitions at the world’s largest coffee gathering: the Specialty Coffee Association of America Convention.
If you are curious about these Hawaiian beans but not on the islands you can also order them online at the website of the Kau Coffee Farm. There is even a special Ka’u coffee festival in the Big Island organized every may. You can find the exact date and an event calendar at the event website.
Coffee and the Puna district are no strangers to each other. In the mid 1800’s, there were 6000 acres of coffee being grown in the Puna district. With the rise of sugar cane the coffee disappeared from Puna, but now coffee is on the rise again. Currently there are 125 acres where coffee is grown in Puna. Puna coffee is an outstanding coffee with very full-body, heavy, with nutty overtones. It is reminiscent of some finer moccas when roasted to a medium.
If you are not on the Big Island but would like to taste these delicious Hawaiian beans, have a look at the web shop of the Hilo Coffee Mill.
The Hamakua coast is known for its rolling hills and incredible scenic drives. It used to be sugar cane country but now slowly is transforming into coffee country. Most coffee farms on the Hamakua coast are small (on average 5-7 acres) and the berries are hand picked. Hamakua coffee has incredibly rich flavor with chocolaty-smooth finish.