Kona Earth - About Kona Coffee

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

Kona coffee belt

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

Quality

100% Kona Coffee commands some of the highest prices in the world. One of the few specialty coffees grown in the United States, Kona Coffee farmers follow US agricultural guidelines and employ workers at a living wage.

Lesser quality “Kona blends” abound, many containing just 10% of beans from Kona.  However, true 100% Kona Coffee grows only in the Kona coffee belt region and must contain, as the name implies, 100% Kona-grown coffee. The resulting signature specialty coffee has a smooth profile with little bitterness or aftertaste.  Coffee aficionados around the world prize it for it's unique characteristics. 

As the stewards of Kona Earth farms, we take great care in every aspect of our 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. We micro-roast in ten pound batches on site.  This ensures that you will receive the freshest possible coffee, shipping within 48 hours.

Kona Coffee Farming

Farming: A Labor of Love

Most Kona coffee farms are small, independent, family-run farms.  

Unlike large, mechanized farms in other regions, 100% Kona coffee is hand-picked. Even though this method is more labor-intensive and expensive, it is more selective. Workers harvest only the ripe, red cherry during each round of picking. Green fruit continues to ripen on the trees. Weeks later, workers return to pick the next round of cherry.  In this way, harvest is completed throughout the season to gather all of the fruit at its optimum ripeness.

Most coffee-producing regions around the world pay farm workers very little leading to a poor standard of living.  In contrast, Kona farm workers receive a living wage. This reflects the labor standards and practices of a specialty coffee produced in the United States.

As a rule of thumb, it costs the farmer about 10 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.