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Kona Coffee - Quality Standards and Labeling

To help our customers understand the controversy between the Kona coffee farmers and Safeway, we at Hawaiian Energy Coffee would like to give an overview of the quality standards and labeling guidelines that all the Kona coffee farmers follow to produce and sell the finest coffee known worldwide.  

Quality Standards

Kona coffee growers have established a standard grading of Kona coffee, and all green coffee beans from Kona are inspected and regulated by the State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture.  A worldwide standard for quality in coffee actually does not exist, with Hawaii's quality standards and labeling of coffee the strictest and most defined in the world.

Grading is based on size (the bigger the better), as well as the number of defects such as broken or discolored beans. Most coffee cherries are segmented and separated into two beans. If a coffee cherry is not segmented, it is considered an exceptional grade called "Peaberry".  Grades of normal segmented beans are based on bean size and number of imperfections and range from "extra fancy", "fancy", "prime" to "number 1".  The official definitions and descriptions of the classifications are outlined on the Hawaii Administrative Rules - Standards for Coffee document.  


Walk down the coffee aisle at any store and you will see terms like "premium coffee", "specialty coffee", "gourmet coffee" etc.  What does all this mean?  The growers, distributors and the State of Hawaii have outlined the rules of labeling for Kona coffee.

In a nutshell, labeling follows the following rules:

  1. No coffee grown outside the defined region of "Kona" (North and South Kona districts) may be labeled as such;
  2. Any package containing less than 100% Kona-grown coffee must be labeled "Kona blend." A Kona blend must contain at least 10% coffee beans from Kona by weight; and
  3. Kona blends claiming to be made of 100% coffee grown in Hawaii must stipulate the geographic origin in Hawaii by percentage. Any blends of Hawaii-origin coffee with non-Hawaii origin coffee must state percentage by weight as well. 

There are strict guidelines for the wording, type size and placement on the package, provided by the State of Hawaii.  The complete details of the strict labeling guidelines are available on the Hawaii Department of Agriculture website.  

If you want to be sure of quality, and support the Kona coffee farmers, insist on 100% Kona coffee.

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