- Updated Jan 21, 2020
- Writen by Robert Smith
7 Best Kona Coffee Brands: Popular and Tasteful Hawaiian Coffee
- Updated Dec 16, 2018
- Writen by Robert Smith
Kona coffee is a popular and tasteful Hawaiian coffee that is made from 100% Kona coffee beans. This coffee bean is exclusively grown on the slopes of 2 volcanoes, the Hualalai and Mauna Loa in Hawaii.
The History of Kona Coffee
Kona coffee has a long and rich history. In the past, many early attempts to grow Kona coffee has been made. But most of them have unfortunately been unsuccessful.
In 1817, the Spaniard Don Francisco de Paula Marin tried to grow Kona coffee on the plains of Hawaii but failed. However, Samuel Ruggles succeeded in 1828 but was not successful in commercializing it. That’s because at that time attempts to grow sugar on an island-wide scale was underway.
Even if the growth of Kona coffee had a rough start, it still became quite a success.
Especially from 1917 to 1918 where World War I sharply helped increase the demand for coffee, especially for Kona coffee. Additionally, harsh winter in Brazil destroyed almost all of its coffee plantation, so there was a worldwide shortage of coffee.
This helps put Kona coffee in the limelight. Even today, Kona coffee is regarded as the best Hawaiian coffee because of its origins, aromatic taste, and preparation versatility.
Why is Kona Coffee Expensive?
When compared to other types of coffee, Kona coffee is more expensive. There are many reasons for this.
1. Growing Conditions
The temperature of Kona beans need to be around 70°F in order to grow optimally. Unlike other beans, Kona does not grow in winter.
In addition, this coffee bean only grows around 2,000 to 3,000 feet in height so it is difficult to access.
Also worth mentioning is that Kona coffee requires very dry weather and dry soil for optimal growth.
Those are demanding growing conditions that inflate the price of the Kona coffee bean.
Another factor that affects the price of Kona coffee is just how rare it is. Only 1% of the world's coffee production is Kona coffee.
Just like diamonds or gold, its rarity drives the price of Kona coffee.
Also, due to the limited supply of Kona coffee, many manufacturers do not hesitate to make a Kona blend. Those blends normally contain only 10% of Kona beans mixed with 90% of general coffee beans.
3. Labor Costs
Kona coffee beans are delicate and needs to be manually picked. In fact, the bigger the Kona bean, the tastier it is. So only humans are employed in picking Kona coffee beans.
It costs around 65 cents to 75 cents to pick 1 pound of Kona coffee bean. Contrasted to this, other coffee beans cost around 3 cents per pound to pick.
This big gap in labor cost largely explains the more expensive price of Kona coffee.
4. Production Cost
Most Kona coffee beans are harvested on mountainous slopes that are hard to access. It often requires special infrastructure to gain access to the plantation.
Also, Kona coffee production factories have huge operational costs that reflect on the final price of the product.
7 Best Kona Coffee Brands – Reviews
1. Blue Horse Kona Coffee, Dark Roast, Whole Bean (A 100% Kona Coffee for Daily Drinkers)
2. Kona Gold Kona Coffee, Medium Roast, Whole Bean (Smooth, Aromatic, and Has the Extra Fancy Label)
3. Imagine Kona Coffee, Medium Roast, Whole Bean (Sun-dried and Grown Under Optimal Conditions)
4. KB Kona Bean Co Kona Coffee, Dark Roast, Ground (Highly Reputable 100% Kona Beans)
5. Hualalai Estate Kona Coffee, Medium Dark Roast, Whole Bean (Highly Aromatic and Strong 100% Kona Coffee)
6. Royal Kona Kona Coffee, Medium Roast, Whole Bean (Easy to Grind and Has a Smooth Taste)
7. Ferrari Hawaiian Mountain Gold Kona Coffee, Medium Roast, Ground (Comes Pre-grind for Ease of Use)
1. Blue Horse Kona Coffee, Dark Roast, Whole Bean
(A 100% Kona Coffee for Daily Drinkers)
2. Kona Gold Kona Coffee, Medium Roast, Whole Bean
(Smooth, Aromatic, and Has the Extra Fancy Label)
3. Imagine Kona Coffee, Medium Roast, Whole Bean
(Sun-dried and Grown Under Optimal Conditions)
4. KB Kona Bean Co Kona Coffee, Dark Roast, Ground
(Highly Reputable 100% Kona Beans)
5. Hualalai Estate Kona Coffee, Medium Dark Roast, Whole Bean
(Highly Aromatic and Strong 100% Kona Coffee)
6. Royal Kona Kona Coffee, Medium Roast, Whole Bean
(Easy to Grind and Has a Smooth Taste)
7. Ferrari Hawaiian Mountain Gold Kona Coffee, Medium Roast, Ground
(Comes Pre-grind for Ease of Use)
1. Blue Horse Kona Coffee, Dark Roast, Whole Bean – A 100% Kona Coffee for Daily Drinkers
Blue Horse is a popular and freshly roasted Kona coffee that has an attractive price point as well as made from 100% Kona coffee. This is not the blend, so you are guaranteed to get a genuine Kona coffee that has been cultivated in the volcanic slopes of Hawaii.
What differentiates this coffee from others is its mild taste that is not bitter or kicking as other types of coffee.
Therefore, if you’re not a heavy coffee drinker, the chances are that you will like this Blue Horse coffee very much. It is ideal for both casual coffee drinkers as well as those who drink dozens of cups per day.
With this purchase, you get 454 grams of Kona coffee so it will last you at least a month if you are a casual coffee drinker. If you drink more than 2 cups of coffee per day, then we recommend that you buy at least 2 Blue Horse packets.
All in all, if you are a beginner and have never tasted a Kona coffee before, we recommend you get this product. It may not be the best Kona coffee on the market in terms of taste or aroma, but for the price, it is rather close to it.
We recommend that your French press this Kona coffee to preserve its aroma and prevent it from getting a stale taste
2. Kona Gold Kona Coffee, Medium Roast, Whole Bean – Smooth, Aromatic, and Has the Extra Fancy Label
The Kona Gold is an award-winning Kona coffee that has the extra fancy label and contains medium to dark roast beans. And this Kona coffee is reputed for is its high aroma and smoothness.
Indeed, one recurring problem that many Kona coffee brands face is bitterness. This is not a problem that you will face with the Kona Gold. In fact, this coffee has a label of Extra Fancy which means that it is one of the highest-grade Kona coffee that you can buy.
Despite its Extract Fancy label, this product still remains reasonable in price. Sure, when compared to other products in this Kona coffee review, the Kona Gold is a little bit on the expensive side. However, it’s smoothness, and succulent taste makes it well worth the price.
Additionally, you are getting a 100% genuine Kona coffee that has been specially grown in Hawaii so as to meet strict standards that will satisfy any coffee expert. It has been grown under optimal conditions so as to provide you with the best tasting Kona coffee that you can buy.
The packaging has a sticker that will tell you the date of manufacture. In order to get the best tasting Kona coffee, the manufacturing date should not be more than 8 months
3. Imagine Kona Coffee, Medium Roast, Whole Bean – Sun-dried and Grown Under Optimal Conditions
This Kona Coffee is made by Imagine which is one of the best Kona coffee brands on the market. This coffee has been sun-dried and grown in ideal conditions for a superior taste.
It has a strong and yet sweet taste that is characteristic of a true Kona coffee. Yet, it also does not have the bitter or acidic taste that you normally get from others.
For your money, this product is Extract Fancy which means that it will contain less than 8% of damage Kona beans for every 300 grams of product.
Moreover, the manufacturer claims that optimal conditions like growth above an elevation of 2,200 feet as well as ideal temperature have been observed when cultivating this coffee.
Since it has been sun-dried and not drum dried, it will retain all its aroma. In fact, this is one of the main selling points of this Kona coffee because remember, less than 1% of all coffee beans manufactured worldwide are sun-dried.
The product has been sun-dried and not drum dried, so you are guaranteed to get a Kona coffee with all its aromas and flavors perfectly preserved.
4. KB Kona Bean Co Kona Coffee, Dark Roast, Ground – Highly Reputable 100% Kona Beans
Kona Bean Co is a company that specializes in Kona coffee. They have a family-owned estate in Hawaii where they do large-scale cultivation of Kona beans. Since they have been doing this for many years, this company is also reputed for using one of the best Kona coffee beans on the market.
Since there beans are sun-dried, all the flavors and taste are preserved. Moreover, the packaging is airtight so as to further contain the flavor of this Kona coffee. The only caveat we note with this product is that you get only 227 grams of beans. It could have been more!
But when compared to other more expensive Kona coffee in this review, for almost the same weight, it is definitely value for money. This is mostly explained by the fact that this is wrong coffee and knothole beans.
However, if you are looking for a 100% Kona coffee that has an affordable price, then this is an excellent purchase.
Since you do not get a lot of Kona beans with this product, we recommend daily drinkers to purchase multiple packs
5. Hualalai Estate Kona Coffee, Medium Dark Roast, Whole Bean – Highly Aromatic and Strong 100% Kona Coffee
The Hualalai is grown on the volcanic slopes of Mahalo in Hawaii. Therefore, you get a 100% Kona coffee that is strong and highly aromatic, guaranteed to be genuine, and made from the highest-grade Kona beans.
Moreover, this is a pesticide-free Kona bean product that has been grown using optimal conditions so as to preserve the taste and aroma of the beans as best as possible. If you like your Kona coffee to be strong and aromatic, then this Hualalai is an excellent choice.
Indeed, inside the packaging, you will find medium to dark roast Kona beans that are very tasteful. Many of its users say that this product is the best Kona coffee in terms of taste and kick.
The only caveat we note with this product is that you get only 198.5 grams for your money. This isn’t much so you will have to purchase multiple packets especially if you are a daily drinker.
Get this Kona coffee if you like your morning coffee to be aromatic and have a strong kick
6. Royal Kona Kona Coffee, Medium Roast, Whole Bean – Easy to Grind and Has a Smooth Taste
The Royal Kona is a popular Kona coffee that has a smooth taste. It is made from medium roast whole beans that are certified to come from Hawaii and very easy to grind by hand. Therefore, you are getting a 100% Kona coffee with a smooth taste with this product.
What makes this product so special is that it comes at a very attractive price point. In fact, the Royal Kona is the most affordably priced Kona coffee in this entire review.
Even if it has a low price, it still does not sacrifice quality as this coffee has the Extra Fancy label which means that it uses the highest-grade Kona coffee available.
Also, if you are the type of person to hang grind your coffee, then you will absolutely love the finish of this product. It has a smooth and dry texture that is very easy to grind.
Since this color coffee is delivered straight from Hawaii, the shipping may take a while
7. Ferrari Hawaiian Mountain Gold Kona Coffee, Medium Roast, Ground – Comes Pre-grind for Ease of Use
Many serious coffee drinkers consider the Hawaiian Mountain Gold to be the real deal. In fact, this pre-grind coffee is rated by many of its drinkers as being one of the best Kona coffee beans on the market.
Despite its big reputation, it is still very affordably priced, and you get a generous 227 grams of premium Kona coffee beans with this purchase.
This product contains medium roast ground Kona beans. You will not have to grind it yourself as it has been pre-grind. If you are busy in the morning and do not have time, then this is an excellent Kona coffee for your need.
Furthermore, this is a 100% Kona coffee, so you are guaranteed to get a genuine product. The only caveat we note with this color coffee is that the packaging could have been better quality. You also don't have a lot of control over the taste during preparation since this is a ground Kona coffee.
However, only experts will be able to tell the difference because this ground product and the whole bean Kona coffee. It is still an excellent purchase both in terms of price as well as in terms of taste.
If you like to grind your own coffee, then the Hawaiian Mountain Gold is not the Kona coffee for you as it is pre-grind.
How to Buy the Best Kona Coffee Beans
1. Beware of Kona Blend
By law, a Kona blend is usually a mixture of coffee beans of various types that contains at least 10% certified Kona beans.
In normal conditions, this is an excellent way of getting a very affordable Kona coffee while still being able to enjoy a typical Kona taste.
However, due to counterfeit reasons, a Kona blend should be avoided altogether these days because the origin as well as the grade of coffee beans used in the blend is uncertain and cannot be traced.
Therefore, as much as possible, it is recommended to always purchase a Kona coffee that is labeled “100% Kona coffee” even if it is pricier than a Kona blend.
2. Check the label
Understanding coffee labels will help you find the best Kona coffee online. This will prevent you from getting scammed as well as get the best Kona coffee for the money.
We sometimes see labels like “Hawaiian coffee” on the packaging of Kona coffee. However, this type of labeling is often times misleading and downright false advertising.
This is because not all Hawaiian coffee beans are high-grade coffee and mixing a low-grade Hawaiian coffee with Kona beans is just another Kona blend.
Most of the time, a “Hawaiian coffee” will be more or less the same as a Brazilian coffee which will have a subpar taste and smell.
Moreover, only coffee bean that are grown on the slopes of the Hualalai and Mauna Loa volcanoes in Hawaii can be called Kona coffee.
If the label does not make any mention of those 2 slopes, then you are probably only purchasing a Hawaiian coffee and not a Kona coffee.
Coffee comes in several grades. Here is a quick overview of the different types of grades of your Kona coffee.
Extra Fancy: Extra Fancy is the highest grade you can expect from your Kona coffee.
The best Kona coffee in the world usually has Extra Fancy labeling. This is a 100% Kona coffee that uses the highest-grade beans that are usually sun-dried.
However, the Extra Fancy label also has a price as it is the most expensive Kona coffee that you can buy. The government allows only 8 imperfect Kona coffee beans out of every 300 grams of Kona coffee.
Fancy: Fancy is another clean Kona coffee grade that has a good roasting quality. You can expect to find around 12 imperfect Kona beans in 300 grams of Kona coffee with the Fancy label.
Additionally, the size of the Fancy Kona coffee beans is slightly smaller than the Extra Fancy label.
No.1 is still a high-quality Kona coffee where imperfect Kona beans are handpicked. In a No.1 labeled Kona coffee, you will find around 18 imperfect Kona beans out of every 300 grams.
The No.3 label contains the highest number of defective coffee beans.
Usually, in order to have a No.3 label, you need to have around 35% of defective Kona beans in every 300 g of Kona coffee. This is an unacceptable amount of defective beans for many people, especially considering its relatively high price.
Therefore, we recommend that you avoid the No.3 label altogether when it comes to Kona coffee.
Mixed Natural Prime
The Mixed Natural Prime is the lowest quality Kona coffee that you can buy. This is usually a blend that is less expensive than other Kona coffee labels.
It has varying taste depending on the manufacturer and the type of Kona beans that have been used in the blend.
If you still want to enjoy Kona coffee but don’t want to spend a lot of money on it, then the Mixed Natural Prime is the best Hawaiian coffee label for your need.
Tips to Brew Kona Coffee
Tip #1 - Use 100% Kona Coffee Beans
You may be tempted to save some money by purchasing a Kona blend, but this is a no-no. In order to get the best tasting Kona coffee, always use 100% Kona coffee beans.
This type of Kona bean is not normally sold at your supermarket, and you will need to purchase it at your local farmer's store that imports it directly from Hawaii.
However, it is well worth the price and trouble as a 100% Kona brew are absolutely delicious!
Tip #2 - Use Spring Water
Most people use tap water to brew their Kona coffee. However, this is bad practice because tap water contains chlorine which will destroy the taste of the Kona bean.
It is always best to use Spring water when preparing your Kona coffee. You can get it as either bottled water or by using a high-quality filter that will remove the chlorine from your water supply.
Tip #3 - Brew at 200 degrees
All coffee experts agree that the best temperature when brewing coffee is between 195 and 205 Fahrenheit. This is the sweet spot temperature that will preserve the flavor of the coffee.
However, most coffee makers will brew below 195 Fahrenheit especially if the coffee maker is a bit old.
Therefore, use a thermometer when brewing your coffee to ensure that it is at an optimal temperature.
Tip #4 - Clean your Coffee Maker
This oil will become rancid when it comes in contact with water and air, thus affecting the taste of the coffee.
Tip #5 - Use a French Press
The French Press is an excellent way of preserving the taste of your Kona coffee by preventing it from getting direct contact to the air.
It is superior to a regular coffee maker because there is limited space inside the French press for air to affect the taste of your Kona beans.
Why Kona Coffee Has a Special Taste?
Kona coffee is so popular because of its peculiar and distinctive taste.
After all, this coffee is grown on the mountainous slopes of Hawaii. It is also grown in very dry conditions during the summer only. So, Kona coffee inherits this uniqueness when compared to other coffee that can be grown almost anywhere in the world.
Kona coffee made from 100% Kona beans is known for its smooth, clean, creamy and sweet taste. It is not very chocolaty and when prepared correctly this coffee will have a lot of flavors, including fruity flavors depending on the roast.
At the end of the day, even if Kona coffee is more expensive than other types of coffee on the market, the taste will attract both beginners as well as seasoned coffee drinkers.
Kona coffee is really what makes coffee special to so many people. This silky-smooth brew may not be the cheapest coffee on the market, but it is something that you should absolutely try.
With some luck, you may fall in love with this brew and make it your go-to cup of coffee.
Our Kona coffee review above list products that are genuine and 100% Kona coffee. If you are still undecided yet, go through the review again as it may help you pick the right type of Kona coffee.