There are numerous varieties of coffee available today. Some are grown in many coffee-growing areas while others have a single origin. If you are a coffee lover who appreciates premium coffee, then you have probably heard about Kona coffee. So what kind of coffee is Kona coffee?
Kona coffee is a top-quality Arabica gourmet coffee that is grown in the Kona region of Hawaii Island. The Kona coffee-growing region is also known as the Kona Coffee Country or Kona Coffee Belt. Here is everything you need to know about Kona coffee.
Kona Coffee Flavor Profile
Kona coffee is renowned for its simple but rich flavor. Also, it features a mild, light, and delicate flavor with a complex taste and aroma. Kona coffee is well-balanced and clean, with bright acidity and a medium body. It is classically balanced and exhibits a buttery and spicy quality. It is intensely aromatic with subtle winey tones and a great aftertaste. The best Kona coffee is the one that comes from a single estate rather than a mixture of Kona beans from different Kona coffee estates.
Kona Coffee Growing Region
Although the elevations of the Kona Coffee Belt are lower than those of the regions that grow the best Arabica coffee, the quality of Kona beans is superior. The Kona region has growing conditions that allow for a long coffee maturation period. Thus, by the time the beans are ready for harvesting, they are of premium quality.
Kona Coffee Grades
Kona coffee beans are grouped into different grades including:
- Extra Fancy- It is the highest grade.
- Fancy- A high grade but lower than Extra Fancy.
- Kona #1- It is mid-grade Kona coffee beans. It is sold in bulk and is often used in restaurants.
- Prime- It is the lowest Kona coffee grade.
What kind of coffee is Kona coffee? Well, most of the coffee plants grown in the Kona region are Typica varietal, also known as Coffea arabica var typica. Blue Mountain coffee is also grown in Kona but in smaller numbers. Blue Mountain coffee is categorized under a varietal known as Coffea Arabica var blue mountain. It is the same coffee grown in Jamaica, which is known as Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee.
Kona Coffee Belt
The prime area where Kona coffee is grown is known as the Kona Coffee Belt. It is situated in the Kona district of Hawaii. The area is about 1 mile wide and 30 miles long, with elevations ranging from 500 to 2,500 feet above sea level. The Kona coffee belt sits on the fertile and cool western slopes of the Mauna Loa and Hualalai volcanic mountains.
There are about 500 Kona coffee farms within the Kona Coffee Belt. Most of these farms are less than 5 acres in size. The coffee farms and coffee mills in the area are mostly family-owned. When coffee farming started in the Kona region, most of the Kona coffee farms were owned by Japanese immigrants. Today, many Kona coffee farmers are descendants of Japanese immigrant coffee farmers.
Harvesting and Processing Kona Coffee
Kona coffee cherries are hand-picked during their peak ripeness. Farmers pick the cherries up to 8 times every harvesting season. Once the cherries are picked, they are processed using the wet (washed) coffee processing method.
Wet processing involves fermentation, washing, drying, milling, and grading. Processing results in green coffee beans. The green beans are ready for roasting and packaging.
Roasting Kona Coffee Beans
Since Kona coffee beans are premium beans, they require careful roasting. A medium roast is ideal to enjoy the maximum flavors and nuances of Kona coffee. However, your taste preferences will determine the roast profile to consider. If you want to buy roasted Kona coffee beans, choose those with the most recent roasting date to get the most flavorful Kona coffee.
Peaberry Kona Coffee
Peaberry Kona coffee refers to a Kona coffee cherry that contains a single bean instead of two. Kona Peaberry coffee is categorized under Type II Kona coffee while Kona coffee with two beans is categorized under Type I Kona coffee.
Kona Peaberry is extremely rare. It is denser than Type I Kona beans. It has a robust flavor, rich aroma, and smooth consistency. Peaberry coffee is separated from regular Kona beans during processing. It is sold as a higher-grade bean.