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Kona Coffee’s Impact on Hawaii’s Economy and Community

In the lush hillsides of the Kona district on Hawaii’s Big Island, the cultivation of coffee has not only shaped the landscape but also played a pivotal role in shaping the economy and community of the region. Kona coffee, with its unique flavor profile and global reputation for quality, has become a symbol of Hawaiian culture and heritage, contributing significantly to the economic vitality and social fabric of the islands. In this post, we’ll explore the multifaceted impact of Kona coffee on Hawaii’s economy and community, highlighting its contributions to employment, tourism, cultural preservation, and community development.

Economic Contributions

Kona coffee is a major economic driver for Hawaii, generating millions of dollars in revenue annually and supporting thousands of jobs throughout the state. The coffee industry provides employment opportunities for farmers, processors, roasters, retailers, and hospitality workers, contributing to both direct and indirect employment across various sectors of the economy. Additionally, Kona coffee exports bring valuable income to the state and contribute to Hawaii’s overall economic prosperity.

Tourism and Hospitality

Kona coffee plays a significant role in Hawaii’s tourism industry, attracting visitors from around the world who come to experience the rich cultural heritage and natural beauty of the islands. Coffee plantation tours, tasting experiences, and farm-to-table dining options provide unique opportunities for tourists to learn about the history and production of Kona coffee while enjoying the scenic landscapes and warm hospitality of the region. The coffee industry also supports local cafes, restaurants, and hotels, creating additional revenue streams and employment opportunities within the hospitality sector.

Cultural Preservation

Kona coffee is deeply ingrained in Hawaiian culture and heritage, serving as a symbol of tradition, identity, and pride for the local community. The cultivation and processing of coffee have been passed down through generations, preserving traditional farming methods, cultural practices, and knowledge of the land. Many coffee farms in the Kona district are family-owned and operated, maintaining a connection to the land and the values of stewardship and sustainability that define Hawaiian culture.

Community Development

The first settlements in Hawaii
Hawaiian Hula Dancers

Beyond its economic contributions, Kona coffee plays a vital role in community development, fostering social cohesion, and community engagement among residents. Coffee farmers often collaborate with local organizations, schools, and community groups to support initiatives related to education, environmental conservation, and cultural preservation. Additionally, coffee-related events and festivals, such as the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, bring residents together to celebrate their shared heritage and promote the cultural significance of Kona coffee.

Kona coffee’s impact on Hawaii’s economy and community extends far beyond the boundaries of the coffee fields, shaping the livelihoods, identities, and aspirations of generations of residents. As a symbol of tradition, quality, and cultural heritage, Kona coffee embodies the spirit of aloha and the values of stewardship and sustainability that define Hawaiian culture. By supporting local farmers, businesses, and community initiatives, consumers can contribute to the continued prosperity and resilience of the Kona coffee industry and the communities it sustains.

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Celebrating Kona Coffee Festivals: A Guide for Coffee Lovers

The aroma of freshly roasted beans, the sound of live music drifting through the air, the buzz of excitement as coffee enthusiasts gather to celebrate their favorite brew—there’s nothing quite like the experience of attending a Kona coffee festival. From the vibrant colors of the coffee cherry picking contests to the tantalizing aromas of coffee tastings and the lively energy of cultural performances, Kona coffee festivals offer a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich heritage and flavors of Hawaii’s beloved brew. In this post, we’ll take you on a journey to explore some of the most popular Kona coffee festivals, where you can sip, savor, and celebrate the magic of Kona coffee with fellow aficionados from around the world.

Kona Coffee Cultural Festival

Held annually in November, the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival is the oldest and largest coffee festival in Hawaii, celebrating over 200 years of Kona coffee heritage. The festival features a wide range of events and activities, including farm tours, coffee tastings, art exhibits, live music performances, and cultural demonstrations. Visitors can immerse themselves in the rich history and culture of Kona coffee while enjoying the sights, sounds, and flavors of Hawaii’s Big Island.

Holualoa Village Coffee & Art Stroll

Nestled in the charming village of Holualoa, the Holualoa Village Coffee & Art Stroll is a celebration of local art, music, and of course, coffee. Held several times throughout the year, the stroll features open-air galleries, live music performances, and tastings of freshly brewed Kona coffee from local farms. Visitors can explore the quaint streets of Holualoa, meet local artists and artisans, and sample a diverse selection of Kona coffee blends and single-origin roasts.

Kona Coffee Cultural Festival Lantern Parade

As the sun sets over the Kona coast, the streets come alive with the glow of lanterns during the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival Lantern Parade. This magical event brings together community members and visitors alike to celebrate the cultural heritage of Kona coffee with a colorful procession through the streets of Historic Kailua Village. Participants carry lanterns adorned with intricate designs and symbols representing the spirit of aloha and the legacy of Kona coffee.

Kona Coffee & Chocolate Festival

Indulge your senses at the Kona Coffee & Chocolate Festival, where two of Hawaii’s most beloved flavors come together in one delicious celebration. This annual event showcases the finest Kona coffee and chocolate products from local farmers and artisans, offering tastings, workshops, and culinary demonstrations. From decadent chocolate truffles to rich espresso-infused desserts, the festival is a paradise for foodies and coffee lovers alike.

Keauhou Farmers Market

For a taste of Kona’s vibrant food and farming community, don’t miss the Keauhou Farmers Market, held every Saturday morning in Keauhou. Here, you’ll find a diverse array of local produce, crafts, and of course, freshly roasted Kona coffee from nearby farms. Stroll through the market stalls, chat with local farmers and artisans, and sample the flavors of Hawaii’s Big Island in one bustling, open-air marketplace.

Kona coffee festivals offer a unique opportunity to celebrate the rich heritage, culture, and flavors of Hawaii’s beloved brew in a fun and festive atmosphere. Whether you’re sipping freshly brewed coffee at the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, exploring local art and music at the Holualoa Village Coffee & Art Stroll, or indulging in gourmet treats at the Kona Coffee & Chocolate Festival, each festival promises an unforgettable experience for coffee lovers and culture seekers alike. So mark your calendars, pack your bags, and get ready to celebrate the magic of Kona coffee at these must-visit festivals in Hawaii’s Big Island.

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The Influence of Climate Change on Kona Coffee Production

In the lush hills of Hawaii’s Big Island, Kona coffee is more than just a beverage—it’s a cultural icon and a cornerstone of the local economy. However, like many agricultural crops around the world, Kona coffee is facing unprecedented challenges due to the impacts of climate change. From shifting weather patterns to more frequent extreme events, climate change is altering the conditions under which coffee is grown, posing significant risks to the future of Kona coffee production. In this post, we’ll explore the influence of climate change on Kona coffee production and discuss the innovative strategies that farmers are employing to adapt to these changing conditions.

Rising Temperatures

One of the most significant impacts of climate change on Kona coffee production is the rise in temperatures. Warmer temperatures can accelerate the maturation process of coffee cherries, leading to uneven ripening and lower quality beans. Additionally, higher temperatures can increase the risk of heat stress in coffee trees, reducing yields and compromising the overall health of the plants.

Changes in Precipitation Patterns

Climate change is also altering precipitation patterns in Hawaii, leading to shifts in rainfall distribution and intensity. Changes in precipitation patterns can affect soil moisture levels, water availability, and irrigation requirements, posing challenges for coffee farmers who rely on consistent rainfall to nourish their crops.

Increased Frequency of Extreme Events

Extreme weather events such as hurricanes, droughts, and heavy rainfall are becoming more frequent and intense due to climate change. These events can cause significant damage to coffee farms, including crop loss, soil erosion, and infrastructure damage. Recovery from extreme events can be costly and time-consuming, further exacerbating the challenges faced by coffee farmers.

Pest and Disease Pressure

Climate change can also influence the prevalence and distribution of pests and diseases that affect coffee plants. Warmer temperatures and altered precipitation patterns can create favorable conditions for pests such as coffee berry borer and diseases such as coffee leaf rust, leading to increased pressure on coffee crops and potentially devastating losses for farmers.

Adaptation Strategies

Despite the challenges posed by climate change, Kona coffee farmers are employing innovative strategies to adapt to changing conditions and mitigate risks to their crops. These strategies may include planting shade trees to mitigate temperature extremes, implementing water conservation measures to optimize irrigation efficiency, and diversifying crop varieties to increase resilience to pests and diseases.

The influence of climate change on Kona coffee production is undeniable, posing significant challenges for farmers and threatening the future sustainability of the industry. However, by understanding the impacts of climate change and implementing adaptive strategies, Kona coffee farmers can mitigate risks, enhance resilience, and ensure the long-term viability of their farms. As consumers, we can also play a role in supporting sustainable and climate-resilient coffee production by choosing products that are grown and harvested in a manner that prioritizes environmental conservation and social equity.

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Learn More about Kona Coffee Family Farms!

 Learn about Kona Coffee Family Farms in Hawaii

Information about Kona Coffee Family Farms in Kona

Family Farms - Kona Coffee TreesKona coffee family farms are found in the district of Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii, the youngest of the island chain. Furthermore they are on the Hualalai and Mauna Loa mountains western slopes. In the Kona Coffee Belt.  On the leeward side of the Big island. For these reasons and more Kona is the tiny area of the world where the world’s best coffee is found.
Continue reading Learn More about Kona Coffee Family Farms!

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Farm Tour – Taking a Kona Coffee Farm Tour

Kona Coffee Mill

Love coffee? Take a Kona coffee farm tour!

No visit to the Big Island would be complete without a Kona coffee farm tour

Visiting the Big Island of Hawaii usually means sun, surf and volcanoes — but for coffee lovers, their stay wouldn’t be complete without a Kona coffee farm tour.
Continue reading Farm Tour – Taking a Kona Coffee Farm Tour

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History of Kona Coffee – Rich as its Taste!

Reverend Samuel Ruggles

 The History of Coffee in Kona

Uchida Coffee Farm at Kona Living History Farm
Uchida Coffee Farm on Kona Living History Farm

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.

Reverend Samuel Ruggles
Reverend Samuel Ruggles (wikipedia)

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.

Order yours here!

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The History of Hawaiian Coffee and Kona Coffee

100% Pure Kona Coffee label

The History of the World’s Best Coffee: Hawaiian Coffee

Hawaiian coffee has a rich history of coffee production, though it is a relative newcomer to the coffee industry. Mark Twain said  Kona coffee has a richer flavor than any other.

Samuel Reverend Ruggles introduced it in 1828 from arabica cuttings he brought from Brazil.  Coffee grows very efficiently in Kona on both large and small plantations.
Continue reading The History of Hawaiian Coffee and Kona Coffee

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The Kona Coffee Cultural Festival

Kona Coffee Festival

The award-winning Kona Coffee Cultural Festival

November 3, 2017 through November 12, 2017

Kona Coffee Festival The Kona Coffee Festival recognizes the achievements of Kona’s coffee pioneers, farmers and artisans. This award-winning coffee fest is recognized as the oldest and most successful food festival in Hawaii. The festival starts Friday, November 3 and runs through Sunday, November 12, 2017. The festival includes 10 days of events honoring Kona coffees cultural heritage.

Festival Events include:

  • A Lantern Parade.  Historic Kailua Village. Nov 3, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Watch as the lantern parade winds its way through Historic Kailua Village with its glowing procession of light, music and color. And finally culminating with an evening bon dance at Hale Halawai.
  • The Holualoa Village Coffee & Art Stroll.  In historic Holualoa Village. Nov 4 – 9:00 am – 3:00 pm. Stroll through the art district of quaint Holualoa Village. While strolling visit galleries exhibiting an extensive collection of local artists. Also over 30 Kona coffee farms join the festivities offering tastings and products for purchase.

  • The Miss Kona Coffee Scholarship Pageant. Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa – Kaleiopapa Convention Center. Nov 4 – 5:30 pm. The Miss Kona Coffee Scholarship Pageant is hosted by the Kona Coffee Fest each November. A big mahalo to the scholarship sponsor – Ueshima Coffee Company, Ltd. 

    The newly crowned winner will also travel to Japan to promote Kona, it’s special coffee and the industry.

  • The Kona Coffee Recipe Contest & Big Island Showcase. Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa – Kaleiopapa Convention Center. Nov 5 – 10:00 am – 3:00 pm. Big Island Showcase opens at 10 a.m.  Featuring Hawaii Island products, gifts, and opportunities to buy farmer-direct Kona coffee. Also amateurs, culinary students and professional chefs present their favorite sweet and savory recipes . All featuring 100% Kona Coffee. Keiki (children) showcase sweet or savory snacks. Recipe contest doors open at 11 a.m.
    • You’ll experience:
      • Cooking demonstrations.
      • Judging & award presentations.
      • Public tasting to follow.

More Events:

  • Kona Coffee Cultural Fest Ho’olaule’a. Makaeo County Pavilion. Nov 11 – 9:00 am – 3:00 pm. A celebration of all things Kona coffee.
    • Ho’olaule’a vents include:
      • Hands-on cultural demonstrations.
      • An ethnic food market.
      • The Festival of Arts & Crafts.
      • Additionally, all-day live entertainment.

Enjoy the beautiful lei contest. Participate in traditional Hawaiian poi making, ikebana and traditional Japanese calligraphy.  Also visit the heritage display. Indeed, all day fun for the entire ohana (family).

  • Kona Coffee Council Farm & Mill Tour Leaves from Keauhou Shopping Center.  Nov 7 and 10th – 9:00 am – 2:00 pm. You will visit three working coffee farms in Kona. The fee of $75 includes your transportation and a box lunch. Pick up and drop off located in front of Regal Keauhou Stadium 7 Theatres in the Keauhou Shopping Center. Reservations required; book online at
  • Kona Coffee Living History Farm Tour – November 3-10, 2017. Daily at 2:00 pm. $10 with festival button (available for purchase on site). Stroll through this historic farm on a self-guided tour that reveals the story of Kona’s coffee pioneers during the early 20th century. Walk among the coffee trees and meet a “Kona Nightingale”.  Also discover how farmers used the kuriba and hoshidana to mill and dry Kona’s world-famous coffee.

Festival Calendar of Events and more info at