Best Kona Coffee – Our Top Brands from the Hawaiian Islands (2023)

Best Kona Coffee

In a world of such advanced coffee cultivation, picking one bean is almost impossible. Whether you are team Arabica or team Robusta, each cup of coffee has its unique qualities.

The majority of coffee originates near volcanic regions, such as Kona Coffee from the Hawaiian Islands.

This guide will highlight some of the best Kona coffee being sold worldwide.

What Is Kona Coffee?

Kona Coffee refers to beans grown in the Kona region of Hawaii. Hawaii has a superb climate of volcano-rich soil and endless sunlight to enhance the success of coffee harvesting.

Kona is a subspecies of Arabica. It offers a sweet, delicate, and fruity body profile. Each sip tastes like perfection, with notes of caramel, butter, and cocoa, giving you the right amount of caffeine per cup.

Kona coffee can be compared to wine. The best-tasting wine requires precision and utmost care. Kona coffee is no different. Through decades of farming and harvesting, Kona has perfected the best bean to give you a true taste of Hawaii.

Where Does Kona Coffee Come From?

100% authentic Kona Coffee only comes from one region of the world, America’s Pacific Islands, Hawaii. Much of the coffee directly grows within the Kona district.

The Kona district is located on the west side of the big island, Hawai’i. The volcanic area of coffee farms stretches from ‘Anaeho ‘omalu Bay to Manukā Park. The majority of coffee farms sit along the slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualalai.

Coffee from this region has risen in popularity for its rich profile and authenticity. Kona coffee is shipped and exported to all corners of the globe. If you want to get your hands on some Kona beans, you might have to do some searching as quantities go fast.

Be Mindful of Kona Look-alikes

Kona production began sometime in the 1800s. Over the past 200 years, other coffee companies have tried to get their hands on the best. And when they can’t obtain the best, they will disguise their beans as the best.

That’s right! Unfortunately, there are more and more companies misbranding their beans as authentic Kona beans. If you are not careful or don’t do your research, you could have your hands on a replica.

Moreover, companies will mislabel their beans and get away with it because once ground, the beans are hard to identify until tasted. Kona beans can be crushed into a fine or coarse coffee ground consistency, allowing you to brew their coffee in a handful of different ways.

Here are a few ways to tell whether or not your Kona beans are real or fake.

Kona Is Expensive, Not Cheap

The price of your coffee beans is one of the biggest giveaways that you have been scammed with. Hawaii is a world away from most people, therefore making the export of beans a pricey task.

Even if you have never bought authentic Kona beans, assume that the price will be higher than any other beans you have purchased before.

Buying cheap Kona beans is a dead giveaway that you have received a Kona blend of less than 100%.

Hawaiian Coffee Brands Outside of Kona District

There are other regions of Hawaii known for coffee harvesting. While you might think that they must harvest similar beans with qualities compared to those of the Kona district, it isn’t true.

There are regions of the Hawaiian belt that make for the best and worst coffee production. The Kona belt is top of the list, while other areas like Maui and Kauai just don’t have what it takes to cultivate Kona beans, let alone coffee.

You can enjoy an average cup of coffee from other parts of Hawaii, but remember that it will not have the Kona taste.

Kona Beans Need To Pass Grading

All Kona beans harvested from the Kona district must go through a thorough test of grading. The Hawaiian Department of Agriculture (HDA) inspects the beans for size, shape, number of defects, and moisture. After testing, each harvest is categorized within a grade to protect its authenticity as a Kona Bean.

Grading system:

  1. Kona Extra Fancy
  2. Kona Fancy
  3. Kona Number 1
  4. Kona Select
  5. Kona Prime

Each of these grades helps Kona beans rank among the best beans in the district. Extra Fancy is top of the line (highest quality), while Kona Prime is edging closer to a lower quality.

The Three Best Kona Coffee Sellers

Now you know what Kona coffee is, where it comes from, and how it achieves true authenticity.

Instead of making your mouth water anymore, we will tell you about the four best Kona Coffee sellers and what beans are amongst the best in the entire world.

Koa Coffee – #1 the King of Kona Coffee

KOA Coffee has quickly risen to fame since its original introduction in 1997. With the company’s high level of quality control and advanced roasteries, KOA has continued to provide people with the most authentic taste of 100% Kona Coffee.

They are recognized by Forbes for being one of the top 10 best coffees in the world.

At KOA, you can choose from a variety of true 100% Kona-harvested Coffee. The company offers three roasts: medium roast, dark roast, and a decaf roast for anti-caffeine lovers.

If you are looking for the best of the best from KOA, you better opt for a medium roast as it is their best seller. Whether you choose Estate or Natural, you will enjoy the fine Hawaiian coffee taste.

Medium Roast Whole Bean Kona Coffee Tri-pack

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Koa Coffee Whole Bean – some of the best kona coffee

While Koa’s tri-pack isn’t the budget-friendly option, it is the best of all three worlds. Coffee drinkers get the most for their money’s worth. With three 1 lb or 8 oz bags, their coffee supply will last a long time.

What’s in the pack?

  • Grande Domaine Kona Coffee – Competition winner based on quality and balance
  • Private Reserve Kona Coffee – Voted best in America
  • Estate Kona Coffee – Grows from a higher elevation and one single farm

KOA has the best Kona Coffee in the world due to its perfect cultivation climate. The tri-pack coffee boasts incredible perfections of a medium roast, giving you a taste of Mauna Loa Volcano.

Buying your coffee in the form of whole beans will give you the freshest smell and taste when grinding the beans to make your next cup.

Volcanica Coffee – #2 Almost the Best Kona Coffee

Volcanica Coffee is a coffee company directing its focus on roasting exotic coffee. The family-owned business finds the best beans that grow in volcanic regions from all around the world. Their mission is to provide coffee-goers with the freshest, highest-quality, and most flavorful taste of coffee.

Volcanica works with local coffee farms to harvest their beans sustainably, handling each bean carefully and protecting the environment where they grow.

Specializing in coffee beans of higher altitudes and volcanic soil, Volcanica offers two types of Hawaiian beans; Kona Extra Fancy and Kona Peaberry. Of both of these, Kona Peaberry sits on the throne as the best Kona Coffee from the Hawaiian paradise.

Kona Peaberry Coffee

Kona Peaberry
Volcanica Kona Peaberry – indispensable in a list of the best Kona coffee

Peaberry coffee is considered the champagne of coffee. Each cup is gentle, smooth, and full of body. The coffee is pretty rare amongst all other beans as only 5% of the beans harvested are Peaberry.

This coffee has a grade of Prime (lower quality but not the lowest). Although it isn’t graded as the highest, its rarity makes it one of the best. Kona Peaberry coffee has notes of toasted almond, honey, and chocolate. For the best medium roast taste, buy the beans whole and grind them yourself.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Limited Quantity

Hawaii Coffee Company – #3 the Oldest Kona Coffee

Hawaii Coffee Company is one of the biggest Hawaiian coffee companies harvesting true Kona beans to date. It is a sister company partnering with three different coffee branches to provide the world with the best Hawaiian coffee possible.

The company originally founded Lions Coffee in Toledo, Ohio, in 1864. Around 100 years later, the company established its presence on Hawaiian soil and launched Royal Kona Coffee. Royal Kona Coffee was harvested on the slopes of Hawaii before Kona hit the international world

In 2004 and then again in 2013, the company began to expand, introducing more brands of coffee and dabbling in the tea culture.

Hawaiian Coffee Company provides more than just Hawaiian coffee. With a heavy focus on 100% Kona coffee, avid coffee drinkers always find their way back to buying more and more every year. Of all their coffee beans, there is one that tops the list; a medium roast from private reserves.

Private Reserve Medium Roast 100% Kona Coffee

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100% Kona Coffee – 100% deserves its spot in the list of the best Kona coffee

Unlike other Kona coffee mentioned on this list, Hawaiian Coffee Company offers the most affordable 100% Kona Coffee. Whether you choose whole bean or ground coffee, you will enjoy the purity of what Kona has to offer.

This medium roast comes from a private reserve, meaning the best Kona coffee in existence. Private reserve coffee offers you the most secretive blend and a roast of Kona production.

Private Reserve Medium Roast 100% Kona Coffee has a full-body profile, smooth taste, and noticeable aromatic scent. You can enjoy these beans in any form of brewing you prefer. Whether you favor a fancy old french press, pour-over method, espresso machine, or traditional coffee pot, you’ll love what each bean brings to the cup.

Pros:

  • Judged Superior by the American Academy of Taste
  • Affordable and high-quality
  • No acidity

Cons:

  • Packaging isn’t vacuum sealed

1st in Coffee – #4 Giving You a Taste of Hawaii

1st in Coffee focuses on selling coffee machine supplies, as well as coffee beans and accessories. Although the company is young, they want to provide its customers with a great coffee bean that pairs well with the machine they buy.

They know what it takes to enjoy a perfect cup of coffee using any brewing method. The company offers its customers the highest quality bean from Hawaii.

100% Kona Extra Fancy Whole Bean

Kona Extra Fancy Coffees
The most premium coffee in this overview – and while price doesn’t say everything, this is still some of the best kona coffee

Kona Extra Fancy is of the highest quality possible. Each bean is harvested from the high volcano slopes of the big island in Hawaii. The coffee plants are grown in shady habitats with plenty of sea and mountain breeze.

The environment of the Kona district provides coffee with the ideal growing characteristics. Extra Fancy provides a medium body and light flavor while preserving its smooth taste and fresh aroma.

Pros:

  • Kona Extra Fancy (Grade 1)
  • Shipped in Resealable bags

Cons:

  • A little expensive

Frequently asked questions

We have weeded through endless internet searches to bring you the most commonly asked questions about Kona Coffee.

Why is it so hard to find Kona Coffee?

The land that Kona Coffee originates from is extremely limited. Other coffee regions of the world have ten times the amount of harvesting space. Therefore Kona can only provide a yearly fixed supply.

How much does a cup of coffee cost in Hawaii?

A regular cup of joe can cost anywhere between $6 and $10 in Hawaii. Coffee lovers can purchase small bags of Kona Coffee for as low as $4.

Can Kona Coffee be used for espresso?

Yes! Kona Coffee is great for Espresso. The medium to dark roasts are great for Espresso as long as the brewing method is performed correctly.

Make Kona Your Next Cup of Coffee

Have we convinced you that Kona is the best Coffee in the world?

If you have never tried Hawaiian Coffee from the Kona belt, you must get your hands on some immediately. Its rich and creamy taste will have you begging for more.

In this article, we have highlighted the best Kona Coffee, KOA Coffee. Whether you choose coffee from KOA Coffee, Volcanica Coffee, Hawaii Coffee Company, or 1st in Coffee, rest assured that you will taste the true history of Hawaii’s Kona culture.