This is the Kona Coffee Story. Coffee trees thrive on the cool slopes of the Hualalai and Mauna Loa Mountains in rich volcanic soil and afternoon cloud cover. Growing in this unique environment, Kona coffee has a distinct advantage over coffees grown in other parts of the world. Coffee trees typically bloom after Kona's dry winters and are harvested in autumn. Coffee cultivated in the North and South districts of Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii is the only coffee that can truly be called Kona Coffee
Before being graded, Kona coffee is hand picked, pulped, dried and hulled. Machinery at the coffee mill sorts the beans into different grades by size and shape. Peaberry is top of the line. A peaberry bean is formed when one side of the flower fuses with the other leaving only one bean in the coffee cherry. This gives the peaberry a more concentrated flavor and makes up only about 5% to 10% of the total Kona Coffee harvest. Top grades (in descending order) include extra fancy, fancy, No.1 and prime.
Kona Coffee is sun dried, then custom roasted depending on desired results and differences in moisture of the beans. A good roasting process (and processor) can make a world of difference. Roasting is referred to as an "art form" by many in the trade. Dark roasts are typically called French Roast, Italian or Espresso. Medium roasts include Full-City and Vienna. Flavored coffee is either sprayed or powdered immediately after roasting for best absorbtion of the added flavor. Just after roasting the oxidation process begins and coffee is at its freshest.
Air tight containers and freezing coffee will optimize freshness. Whole bean stored in this manner retains a recommended shelf life of about three months, ground coffee about a month. Growers suggest buying in whole bean form and grinding just before brewing each pot.
To purchase 100% pure Kona Coffee, check the label. KONA BLEND means it may only contain 10% Kona beans. These are usually mixed with lower grade beans from Brazil, Central America, Africa and Indonesia. If you're coming to the Big Island of Hawaii and the Kona Coast be sure to check out the numerous farms and coffee mills in the Kona Coffee Belt.
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