What makes Kona Coffee one of the most popular coffees in the world?
When you think of Hawaii, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Probably sandy beaches, never ending sunshine, some of the best surfing spots in the world, sweet pineapples, fresh fish.. what about coffee? If you didn’t think Hawaii could get any better, think again. Hawaii is home to one of the best, most sought after coffee beans in the world - Kona Coffee. What is about Kona Coffee that makes it so popular? And of course by popular we mean relatively exclusive and expensive.
Where it all began
Coffee beans were introduced to the Hawaiian Island Oahu in 1825 by Brazil. Naturally, these coffee plants flourished in Hawaii’s tropical climate and soon coffee bean growing was spread across all the islands. Eventually, the Brazilian crop was replaced with Guatemalan coffee plants and this has come to be the Hawaiian coffee we know today - including Kona.
The best coffee is known to grow in the Coffee Belt, a horizontal strip between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Likewise, the Kona Belt is cherished for its ideal climate for Kona coffee bean growing. What’s interesting is that outside of the Kona Belt, not only is the rest of Hawaii unsuitable for Kona coffee but it is undesirable for coffee farming in general. Coffee lovers should keep this in mind when purchasing “Hawaiian Coffee”. Rule of thumb: Kona coffee is Hawaiian but Hawaiian coffee is not Kona. Sure, it’s coffee and sure it may taste good - but it’s not Kona.
The rise of Kona
It was the rise in the gourmet coffee trend of the late 1980’s that elevated Kona Coffee to its adored position. It became a household name and found its way onto the shelves of supermarkets and speciality coffee houses around the globe. Today, Kona Coffee is grown entirely on the 600 coffee farms surrounding the Hualalai and Maun