Kona Coffee from Hawaii - What Makes It So Special

Genuine Kona coffee is highly prized throughout the world for its full-bodied flavor and pleasing aroma.

Kona coffee is a cultural tradition that's been carried on since Samuel Ruggles first brought arabica coffee to Kona in 1828. This plant was amazingly adaptable to the environment of the Kona region. Americans and Europeans realized that a wonderful marriage took place between Arabica coffee and Kona's calm, unique climate and rich volcanic soil.

Mark Twain was so impressed with this marriage he stated in his book, Letters From Hawaii, " I think Kona coffee has a richer flavor than any other".  As early as 1842, there was a duty tax imposed on all foreign coffee brought into the Kingdom of Hawaii. This protective measure wasn't enough, the crop was devastated by the white scale blight in the 1850's. This pest would eventually be brought under control with the introduction of the Australian beetle.  Hawaiians forged ahead with the first coffee mill in Napoopoo in 1850.

Coffee trees thrive on the cool slopes of the Hualalai and Mauna Loa Mountains in rich volcanic soil and afternoon cloud cover. Growing in this unique environment, Kona coffee has a distinct advantage over coffees grown in other parts of the world. Coffee trees typically bloom after Kona's dry winters and are harvested in autumn. Coffee cultivated in the North and South districts of Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii is the only coffee that can truly be called Kona Coffee.

Before being graded, Kona coffee is hand picked, pulped, dried and hulled.  Machinery at the coffee mill sorts the beans into different grades by size and shape.  Peaberry is top of the line.  A peaberry bean is formed when one side of the flower fuses with the other leaving only one bean in the coffee cherry.  This gives the peaberry a more concentrated flavor and makes up only about 5%-10% of the total Kona Coffee harvest. Top grades (in descending order) are: Extra Fancy, Fancy, No.1 and Prime.

Kona coffee is sun-dried then custom roasted depending on desired results and differences in the moisture of the beans.  A good roasting process, and processor, can make a world of difference. Roasting is referred to as an "art form" by many in the trade. Dark roasts are typically called French Roast, Italian or Espresso. Medium roasts include Full-City and Vienna. Flavored coffee is either sprayed or powdered immediately after roasting for best absorption of the added flavor. Just after roasting the oxidation process begins and coffee is at its freshest.

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