Kona Earth - Kona Coffee Questions Answered

100% Kona Coffee is a gourmet, specialty coffee only grown in a distinct area known as the Kona coffee belt on the Big Island of Hawaii. We offer this FAQ page as a way to help you make the most of your Kona coffee purchase.

How is Kona Earth different from other 100% Kona coffee farms?

  • Our 100% Kona coffee is single estate grown, meaning we do not mix our beans with beans from other farms or other coffee-growing regions.
  • Our Kona coffee farm is at 2000 feet, considered a “high elevation farm”. The climate is cooler and wetter, allowing our fruit to mature more slowly. This results in large coffee beans and a rich, robust flavor.
  • We are family-owned and operated and manage the Kona coffee-growing process from seed to cup, ensuring quality at every stage of production. No one cares more about our coffee than we do.
  • We make giving back a priority, donating a percentage of proceeds to our local non-profit partner, The Kohala Center.
  • What is small-batch or micro-roasting?

    Unlike large factory farms, Kona Earth employs small-batch roasting, also called micro-roasting for its 100% Hawaiian Kona coffee. Technically, this means batches of smaller than 150 lbs. However, we roast in batches of 15 – 20 lbs. on our JM Estrada roaster, so we are, in effect – micro/micro roasters. This results in incredibly fresh, premium Kona coffee shipped direct to you from the farm.

    Why do you ship whole beans instead of ground coffee?

    We ship whole bean Kona coffee because it preserves freshness. It also gives you flexibility in selecting a grinding level (fine to medium, etc.) depending on the way you prepare your coffee.

    What are the different Kona coffee roast profiles?

    MEDIUM: Roasted to the first crack, the beans are a light chocolate brown with few surface oils. Medium roast preserves the smooth, delicate nuances that make Kona coffee so special with balanced flavor, aroma, and acidity. Fans of American Roast or Breakfast Roast will appreciate this balanced and well-rounded coffee.

    FULL CITY: Medium-dark roast is pleasing to every palate, balancing the mixture in flavor between the origin of the coffee and the taste of the roasting process. In this roast, the beans roast past the first crack but stop before reaching the second crack. The beans will be mostly dry, with intermittent patches of oil. This roast is often used for espresso drinks.

    DARK: This is a full-bodied coffee with a bold flavor. Roasted to the second crack, the beans are dark brown with an oily surface. Dark roast creates a strong, rich flavor with an unmistakable aroma. Some refer to this roast as French Roast.

    Why don’t you offer a dark roast for Extra Fancy and Peaberry grade Kona coffee?

    We listen to our cupping experts who advise against roasting the higher grade coffees beyond a Full City (medium-dark) roast. Anything darker and you taste the roast, not the bean. They liken it to serving a charred Chateaubriand. The medium roast is smooth and silky and can be enjoyed on its own. If you like cream and sugar in your coffee, the full city roast still allows for the flavor of the bean to come through. If you love a dark roast, Kona Classic is a great choice.

    What do the different coffee grades represent?

    Grading standards are set forth by Hawaii Coffee Association to regulate bean size and quality. During dry milling, the beans are sorted into 3 categories:

    Kona Extra Fancy is a Type I Kona coffee with screen size (19), meaning it is a larger bean with very few defects.

    Our Kona Classic combines other Type I grades including Fancy, Number 1, Select and Prime. Many refer to this grade as Estate coffee.

    Peaberry is in a class of its own as a Type II. It is a special mutation in which only one bean develops instead of the usual two. More sugars develop per bean leading to a better-developed flavor profile.

    Type III aka Triple X beans do not make the cut and are not recognized as Kona Coffee.

    What is the source of the tasting notes for each Kona coffee?

    The Specialty Coffee Association created the Q Grader Program to help provide a consistent, credible and verifiable evaluation process that is utilized worldwide to evaluate coffee. Q Graders score coffee on various qualities like aroma, flavor, and texture.

    Q Graders go through a rigorous training course to be certified to provide sensorial analysis that assists coffee farmers in perfecting their farming and production processes. By understanding the characteristics of their green coffee, this process also informs the development of each coffee’s optimum roasting profile. Many liken Q Graders to Masters of Wine in the wine industry.

    What is the best way to store my coffee?

    The best bet is to store your coffee in an airtight, opaque container in a cupboard, away from light or extreme temperatures. If you don’t have an airtight container, use the tin tie to close the bag, then pop it in a Ziploc. Don't refrigerate your coffee and only freeze it if it will be stored for weeks at a time. We offer a custom Airscape container which is an excellent choice to lock in freshness in an airtight container.

    What is the best brewing method for 100% Kona coffee?

    Whether you enjoy your 100% Kona coffee as drip coffee or espresso, the speed in which hot water flows through your coffee grounds can determine your tasting experience. Over extraction happens when water is in contact with your grounds for too long, extracting too many organize compounds. This results in a harsh, bitter cup of coffee. Conversely, under extraction happens when the water flows through too quickly, resulting in a weak, watery cup of coffee. To correct for any flavor imbalance, experiment with your grind setting. Coarse grounds extract water more slowly while fine grinds extract quickly. Brewing with filtered water is also recommended.