The Kona Coffee Belt is a strip of land running almost parallel to Kona’s famed “gold” coast. This zone, approximately 30 miles long and 2 to 3 miles wide, has proven to have ideal coffee growing conditions. Some say the best natural growing conditions in the world for coffee.
This “lower humid zone” lies between approximately 700 ft and 2500 ft elevation. It begins in the north at approximately Makalei and extends south almost to Oceanview. Also, the zone includes the west slopes of both Hualalai and Mauna Loa mountains.
Average Annual Rainfall
Annual rainfall in the belt is in an ideal amount and distribution. Consequently coffee in Kona typically has not been irrigated.
The winter dry season forces the coffee trees into a state of semidormancy. This period promotes flowering. Following the dry season, rainfall gradually increases as the crop matures. Then, rainfall decreases as the harvest season approaches and the fruiting cycle starts as the winter dry period begins. The last of the beans are harvested during the low rainfall in December-February.
Rainfall increases rapidly after mid-April in the coffee belt. Higher temperatures and high humidity provide the elements for rapid progression of the present crop. Decreasing rainfall in mid-September promotes harvest of the ripe cherries.
Ideal Coffee Growing Temperatures
In the heart of the Kona coffee belt lies CTAHR’s Kona Research station. This station records the annual average temperature is 69°F, the average minimum is 60°F, and the average maximum is 78°F. Simultaneously with drought, seasonal temperatures drop. Thus causing the coffee trees to slow their growth and develop flower buds. Kona Research Station temperatures for December, January and February average 67°F (57°F minimum, 77°F maximum).
Interesting Note: Previous to 1983, the annual rainfall averaged 68 inches. Although since 1983 when Kilauea began erupting, it has been drier, averaging only 49 inches.
History of coffee in Kona is as rich as its taste! With an area of over 4,028 square miles, the island of Hawaii, also known as “The Big Island”, is home to a beautiful region in the west known as the Kona District. The Kona District is home to many different and wonderful attractions, including the Hawaii Ocean Science & Technology Park, the world-famous Ironman World Championship, the rugged “Gold Coast” with some amazing beaches, sea-turtle habitats, and Kona coffee farms.
Coffee isn’t native to Hawaii — it was brought to Kona by Samuel Reverend Ruggles in 1828. He brought arabica cuttings from Brazil to see how well it would take to the Big Island’s climate.
As it turned out, Kona’s daily cycle of morning sunshine, afternoon cloud cover and rich volcanic soil was perfect for the coffee plants. Consequently coffee established itself as a major crop in Hawaii by the end of the 1800s.
A crash in the price of coffee in the late 1890s led to today’s system of independent family farms. The plantations which had been producing most of the coffee beans were forced to sell their land. As a result the workers bought or leased the land. Generations later, many of these plantation worker descendants are still farming Kona coffee on the same land.
Harvesting and Processing – little change throughout history.
Harvesting (picking) and then processing coffee is a tradition in Kona that you’ll see typically from August to January. Farmers and hired pickers collect the red coffee berries. These berries contain the coffee beans. Then they pulp the fruit. Also known as “wet milling”. Separating the inner bean from the skin or outer layer. The sun, breeze and consistent raking dries the parchment beans. With the exception of some machinery this is the same system used for generations. Then after dry milling the green beans are roasted, bagged and sent around the world. And finally, into your coffee cup.
The prevalence of single-serve coffee makers has been rapidly growing for the past couple of years. It’s easy to see why: convenience – you pop in one of your k cups and out comes your coffee. But what about Kona coffee lovers? 100% Pure Kona Coffee in your Kona k cup is a bit harder to find. It can be confusing with all those coffee pods, k cups and capsules. This guide is designed to help everyone enjoy the smooth taste of Kona Coffee. Whether from their single serve coffee maker of choice, a pour over or a french press. Continue reading Kona K Cups – All about the Best in Kona K cups!
The dry mill grades the green coffee beans according to size and number of defects in a given batch.
Grading the Beans – Size differences
Fancy or Kona #1 beans make up about 75 percent of the harvest. These are the beans most coffee drinkers are grinding when they’re making their cup.
Extra Fancy beans make up about 20 percent of a farm’s crop. They are heavier and larger. They are the biggest in size and will have the least amount of defects.
Peaberry is the rarest of the beans, typically accounting for 3-5% of the total crop. They are genetic anomalies. Normally, two coffee beans are in a berry. However, in the case of peaberry, there’s just one bean. Regular coffee beans are also flat on one side and round on the other, but peaberries look like almost like little footballs. They have a lower acidity and because of their shape, they roast differently and have a slightly different taste. Connoisseurs say they are the smoothest of all and have more of a chocolaty flavor than the other Kona beans .
Also, you might hear the term Estate Grown. Estate means all the beans are all from the same farm. Estate is usually not graded so it may contain a mix of all grades of Kona.
No matter what kind of bean you choose to drink, make it 100 Percent Pure Kona Coffee. Its balanced flavor, low acidity and world renowned quality is unparalleled.
A comprehensive guide on how to properly taste Kona Coffee
Learn to appreciate Kona coffee by learning to properly taste it
Some argue the coffee is a rare treat and its own reward, that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t properly appreciate how to taste Kona coffee.
Sometimes, a few minutes is all someone has to appreciate a cup of coffee. But when you have the time, it’s best to relax and savor the moment. Maximize enjoyment with your very limited Kona coffee tasting. The time you take will go a long way toward appreciation and happiness. Continue reading How to savor and taste Kona coffee
Learn all about Coffee Harvest Season in Kona Hawaii
After the Coffee Cherries are Hand Picked
Coffee harvest season runs from August to December. The coffee beans are hand picked. The cherries, or the fruit of the coffee tree containing coffee beans, are then run through a machine called a pulper which removes the red, fleshy berry, extracting the bean from the pulp. Rollers in the pulpers get the coffee beans ready for drying by removing the mucilage and removing it from the cherry. When the beans are extracted, they are rinsed in clean, fresh water. Continue reading Coffee Harvest Season in Kona, Hawaii
Kona Coffee is at risk as the coffee borer beetle destroys coffee crops!
Some know it as the berry borer beetle or the coffee borer beetle. However, this African pest is now invading Kona and is a real threat to its coffee. This pest is about 1.5 mm long. Females can fly short distances but the males do not have wings. The beetle costs the coffee industry over $500 million each year. Due to Kona’s small harvest, a coffee borer beetle infestation would be devastating. Continue reading Java Lovers, Beware of the Coffee Borer Beetle!
Kona Coffee facts – If you enjoy java, you need to know these facts
Here are some Kona Coffee facts and information about Kona, Hawaii. The “Kona” in Kona coffee refers to a place in Hawaii. Kona, Hawaii is a beautiful small town beyond just growing coffee. Kona is on the Big Island of Hawaii. On the leeward side of the island.
Therefore, Kona coffee is a special variety of coffee and is known the world over. The coffee grows on the west slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa Mountains, on the “lee” of the island. On the leeward side of the mountain slopes there is a special combination of weather and terrain. These things that are unique to this region of Hawaii and Kona especially. Its taste and qualities have made it one of the most sought-after coffees in world. There are other Hawaiian coffees, but there is only one Kona coffee. The natives Hawaiians call coffee kope, pronounced “co-peh”. Continue reading Did You Know These Kona Coffee Facts?