Kona Earth - About Kona Coffee

After water and tea, coffee is the most consumed beverage on the planet. When you think of global coffee production, places like Columbia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Vietnam or Ethiopia may come to mind. On the list of top coffee-producing regions, Kona is just a “pebble in the ocean”, producing just .04% of the world’s coffee. So what makes Kona Coffee so unique? Why is 100% Kona coffee in such high demand? And why is it so expensive?

Kona coffee belt

1. Geography – The Kona Coffee Belt is a tiny strip of land on the western side of the “big island” of Hawaii. Just a few miles wide and about 30 miles long, the area has ideal conditions for growing exceptionally fine Arabica coffee. It combines a mild, tropical climate with minor temperature variations, mineral-rich, volcanic soil and elevations between 800 and 2500 feet. Sunny mornings give way to afternoon clouds, providing natural shade for the trees. Daily rain showers provide plenty of moisture for near-perfect growing conditions. Only grown in this region, the Kona Typica variety has a well-earned reputation for consistent high quality and excellence that keeps Kona coffee fans coming back for more.

Lucky Kona Earth is located at 2000 ft. elevation. We have cooler temperatures and more rain. Our trees mature slowly, giving the fruit more time to develop and ripen. This translates to lush fruit, large beans, and robust flavor. 

Kona coffee cherry

2. Quality – 100% Kona Coffee is internationally known and commands some of the highest prices in the world. One of the few specialty coffees grown in the United States, Kona Coffee benefits from high farming standards and stringent controls by the State of Hawaii. 

Though lesser quality “Kona blends” abound, many containing just 10% of beans from Kona mixed in with coffee from Guatemala or Brazil, true 100% Kona Coffee can only be grown in the specific Kona coffee belt region and must contain, as the name implies, 100% Kona-grown coffee. The resulting signature 100% Kona Coffee is known for its rich, aromatic flavor with little bitterness or aftertaste, appealing to coffee aficionados around the world. It is considered a premium, gourmet product and is prized by coffee lovers everywhere.

As the stewards of Kona Earth farms, we take great care in every aspect of  coffee production, from planting new areas with "keiki" (baby) trees to nurturing our existing trees throughout the year. At harvest time, we carefully pick, pulp and sun-dry the beans on our drying deck. Then, we oversee the dry milling and sorting, which determines the bean quality and rating. Our roasting is done in small batches on site in batches of 20 pounds or less.  This ensures that you will receive the freshest possible coffee, shipping within 48 hours.

Kona Coffee Farming

3. Farming: A Labor of Love - The Kona Coffee region has about 900 farms. Many are smaller, independent farms that, like Kona Earth, are family-owned and operated. 

Unlike large, mechanized farms in other regions, 100% Kona coffee is hand-picked. Though more labor-intensive and expensive, this method is more selective. Pickers harvest only the ripe, red cherry while leaving the green fruit undisturbed to continue ripening on the trees. Typically, the harvest is completed over several rounds of picking throughout the season to gather all of the fruit at its optimum ripeness.

Kona farm workers are paid a living wage which is unlike many coffee-producing regions in places like Indonesia, Ethiopia or Kenya. 

As a rule of thumb, it costs the farmer about 8 dollars to pick one pound of coffee. Add to this the costs of operating the farm, (the inputs or materials used to support the crop, equipment costs, fuel, etc.), along with the costs of processing the coffee. Next, add the cost of land leases or mortgages, taxes and other overhead costs. Finally, add marketing, sales, packaging and shipping costs to get the roasted coffee into the hands of customers. It is understandable then, that a pound of Kona coffee yields a price which averages between $50 and $70 per pound. Most coffee lovers think it's worth the splurge and, as a price per cup, 100% Kona Coffee is still a very good value for a premium gourmet product. 

More questions?  Check out our FAQ's or get in touch and we'll do our best to answer any questions you may have.