Kona Earth - About Kona Coffee
Though Kona coffee represents a small fraction of the overall specialty coffee market, it is universally prized among coffee connoisseurs for its quality and flavor. Below, we list a few contributing factors to Kona Coffee's beloved status:
Kona Coffee Belt on Hawaii's Big Island
The Kona Coffee Belt is a tiny strip of land on the western side of Hawai'i's Big Island. Just a few miles wide and about 30 miles long, the area is blessed with ideal coffee-growing conditions. It combines a mild, tropical climate with minor temperature variations, mineral-rich, volcanic soil, and elevations between 800 and 2500 feet. 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.
Kona Earth owners Steve and Joanie Wynn walk their farm
Kona Earth's farm is located at approximately 2200 feet in elevation on the tropical slopes of the Hualalai volcano. At that altitude, we have cooler temperatures and more rain. Sunny mornings give way to cloudy afternoons with almost daily rain showers. This provides the perfect combination of sun and moisture for optimal tree growth. This micro-climate allows our trees to mature slowly, giving the fruit more time to develop and ripen. This translates to lush fruit, large beans, and robust flavor.
Another benefit to Kona Earth's farm is that we have a good amount of rich, volcanic soil. Many coffee farms are, quite literally, growing right out of rock.
Kona coffee production at Kona Earth
Authentic Hawaiian Kona Coffee commands some of the highest prices in the world. Why is that?
The small geographic region Kona coffee represents means that supply is naturally limited. This makes it rare and, thus, more valuable than coffee abundantly available from larger coffee-producing regions like Columbia or Costa Rica.
Unlike large, mechanized farms in other regions, Kona coffee is hand-picked. Even though this method is more labor-intensive and expensive, it is more selective. Only ripe, red cherry is picked throughout multiple rounds within a harvest season. Green fruit is left to ripen on the trees, picked on subsequent rounds. Gathering fruit at its optimal ripeness avoids the bitterness that can result from processing green fruit.
Also contributing to Kona coffee's cost is the fact that it is grown in the United States. This ensures that workers are paid a living wage, unlike most coffee-producing regions in other parts of the world.
Most Kona coffee farms are small, family-run operations. As a rule of thumb, it costs the farmer about ten dollars to pick the fruit which results in 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 that 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 an excellent value for a premium gourmet product.
Don't Be Fooled
As a final note, true Kona Coffee grows only in the Kona coffee belt region. However, lesser quality “Kona blends” abound, many containing just 10% of beans from Kona mixed with cheaper, low-quality beans from other regions. If you are looking for an authentic Kona coffee experience, always look for 100% Kona Coffee on the label. That's the only way you can be sure you're getting the real thing.