The rich volcanic soil of the Big Island of Hawaii produces some of the most famous coffee in the world – Kona Coffee! The weather of sunny mornings, cloud or rain in the afternoon, little wind and mild nights combined with porous, mineral rich volcanic soil, creates favorable coffee growing conditions. Kona Coffee is a world-renowned (and also one of the most expensive kinds of) coffee. Only coffee grown on the slopes of the Hualalai and Mauna Loa volcanoes in the north and south kona district can be called “Kona”.
There are more than 700 Kona coffee farms of all sizes spread over 4000+ acres clustered along the ±20 miles of scenic roads on the Hualalai and Mauna Loa slopes. If you love coffee, try to visiting a couple of these farms during your stay on the Kona side of the island. Most farms organize free tastings and tours, and creating your own, self-guided coffee tour is a great way to spend your day!
If you drive along the Hualalai and Mauna Loa slopes during the spring, the coffee is in full bloom, and you will see millions of tiny white fragrant coffee blossoms laden on the coffee tree branches. The locals call this beautiful sight “Kona snow.”
If you visit during the months of August to March, you will see red ripe “cherries” growing from the coffee trees. The exact harvest period depends on rainfall but this is the general picking time. The green coffee fruits do not ripen at the same time, and only the red cherries are picked by hand — a process which takes several months. (back to top)
Ka’u, Puna and Hualalai Coffee farms
Kona is not the only district that produces world class coffee. In decades coffee farms have started all over Hawaii to profit of the fertile volcanic soil and prime coffee growing conditions. Especially coffee from the Ka’u, Puna and Hamakua district is extremely tasty. If you want to get a complete taste of Hawaii, these coffees deserve a place on your menu.
(an essential read if you want to bring Kona coffee home)
You can also pick up your own Kona coffee at the coffee farms or in supermarkets around the Big Island. Be aware that some retailers sell “Kona Blends”. These blends contain a minimum of 10% Kona coffee and are cheaper than 100% Kona coffee, but obviously not the real thing and by far not as tasty. Current Hawaiian law requires blends to state the percentage of Kona coffee on the label, and you can recognize “the real deal’ by the words “100% Kona Coffee” printed on the label. So be sure to stop a moment and carefully read the packaging before you buy your kona coffee to avoid disappointments at home. (back to top)
Since its inception in 1970, the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival has sought to preserve, perpetuate and promote Kona’s unique 180+ year coffee heritage. With nearly 50 events over 10 days there is something for everyone, from coffee drinkers to connoisseurs to your complete family. Festival signature events include a Coffee & Art Stroll, Cupping Competition, Farm & Mill Tours, International Lantern Parade or explore Kona coffee country’s cafe’s, shopping and community with a self-guided driving tour brochure. (back to top)
For more information visit their website.