What makes kona beans coffee so special? This unique coffee is renowned for being wonderfully smooth with no bitterness or acidity. Many coffees need cream, sugar, or other flavoring to make it drinkable, but Kona Coffee is perfect by itself.
It’s hard to pinpoint one thing that gives it its amazing taste; many different factors come together to make Kona the perfect place for growing coffee. From the tropical climate and volcanic soil to the heirloom trees and hard working farmers, Kona has all the right conditions to create the perfect coffee bean.
Kona’s perfect climate
Kona is located on the western slopes of the mountains of Hualalai and Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii. These giant mountains protect the coffee trees from the strong trade winds that blow from the north east. This creates a tranquil region with gentle breezes and few storms. Additionally, these mountains attract cloud cover in the afternoons. Too much sun harms coffee trees, but these afternoon clouds allow the perfect amount of light each day
The clouds also bring much needed rain for the coffee trees. Kona averages about 50 inches of rain a year, with summer being the wet season and winter being drier. A typical Kona day is sunny and warm in the morning, with clouds rolling in later to bring warm, tropical rain to satisfy the coffee trees in the afternoon.
Kona is warm and pleasant year round. Temperatures rarely drop below 60 degrees, even in the winter, and are usually in the 70’s and 80’s. This warm, mild climate provides a stable, nurturing environment for coffee trees to thrive in Kona.
Nurturing volcanic slopes
The gentle sloping volcanoes of Kona allow coffee to be grown from 600 feet to 2500 feet of elevation. These ranges provide the best rain fall, temperature control, and sunlight for growing coffee.
For coffee to grow properly it is very important to have good drainage. The trees will not tolerate waterlogged roots caused by poor drainage and clay soils. Fortunately, the slopes of Kona provide perfect drainage down the mountains so that water doesn’t accumulate. Additionally, the rocky volcanic soil allows water to seep into the ground quickly.
Lastly, the volcanic soil provides a slightly acidic soil that coffee trees prefer. Kona averages a soil pH of 4.5 to 7 that allows coffee trees to thrive.
Dedicated family farmers
Unlike most coffee operations, Kona coffee farms tend to be small. There are about 600 coffee farms in Kona, with most of them between 3-5 acres in size. Many families in Kona grow their own coffee and get their whole families involved with the picking of the beans each year. These smaller family operations allow greater care to go into harvesting and processing the coffee.
Many of these farms are organic and don’t use dangerous pesticides on the trees. All natural fertilizer is often used and the trees are cared for and harvested by hand. This leads to safer, healthier, more satisfying coffee that is produced with love and aloha.
Stringent quality control
Kona farmers have worked together with the State of Hawaii to produce stringent laws regarding the labeling behind Kona coffee. These rules and guidelines protect Kona farmers by ensuring high quality and consistency in the Kona coffee brand. This tight control has fostered the amazing worldwide reputation of Kona coffee.
Coffee can only be labeled 100% Kona Coffee if every bean has come from the Kona region. Any blends or mixes must be labeled. Agricultural inspectors work to ensure that all farmers follow these guidelines. Additionally, coffee beans are graded on the basis of size, moisture content, and bean type. These different grades produce varying degrees of quality and taste that must be marked on every bag.