5 Fascinating Kona Coffee Facts

5 Fascinating Kona Coffee Facts

November 01, 2019

1. Kona Coffee Can Only  Be Grown In One Small Area Of The World

100% Kona Coffee is the name for (Coffee Arabica) cultivated on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa in the North and South Kona Districts of the Big Island of Hawaii. Kona, Hawaii has the most perfect growing conditions found in only one area in the world.  It provides mineral rich volcanic soil, a balanced climate, and the ideal elevation contributing to its one of a kind flavor.

It is one of the most expensive coffees in the world in part because of its exclusivity, delicious taste and labor intensive demands. Pure Kona Coffee makes up less than 1% of the world's total coffee supply.  Only coffee grown in the Kona Coffee Belt can be described as “Kona Coffee.”

The Kona Coffee Belt is a 30 mile stretch of land only 2 miles wide. The weather of sunny mornings, cloud or rain in the afternoon, little wind and mild nights combined with porous, mineral rich volcanic soil, creates the favorable coffee growing conditions.


2. Kona, Hawaii Has Been Producing The World’s Greatest Coffee Since 1828

The Coffee plant was brought to the Kona district in 1828 by Samuel Ruggles, from Brazilian cuttings. English merchant Henry Nicholas Green moved to the area and established Kona Co coffee as a recognized brand later in the 19th century.

In other parts of the Hawaiian Islands, coffee was grown on large plantations, but the 1899 world coffee market crash caused plantation owners to lease land to their workers. Most were from Japan, brought to work on sugarcane plantations. They worked their leased parcels of between 5 and 12 acres as family concerns, producing large, quality crops.


3. There Are 4 Distinct Stages You Can Sell Your Coffee As

Kona Coffee has four distinct stages which you can sell your coffee as when you are actively farming your land: cherry, parchment, green, and roasted. 
Selling coffee at the cherry stage is the least profitable, but easiest way to sell large quantities for income.  With a little additional processing coffee cherry can be turned into parchment.  Further processing will lead to Green Bean, and after roasting, green bean can be turned into Roasted Coffee.

The state average (the whole state, not just Kona) return for coffee cherry in Hawaii in 2016 was 1.71, assuming no crop damage, so 100 pounds of coffee cherry, can bring you $171.00.
Kona Coffee Cherry
 When you process your coffee to the   parchment stage, you lose 80% of the   weight of the cherry, however you can sell   your  parchment for $10.00 – $12.00 per   pound.   With a minimal time commitment,   and  minimal investment, 100 pounds of   cherry   can be processed to 20 pounds of   parchment – bringing a dollar amount of   $200.00 (20 x $10.00) at the lowest end of   the spectrum.

When you process your coffee to the green bean stage, you lose 82% of the weight of the cherry, however you can sell your green bean for $15.00 – $20.00 per pound.  With a minimal time commitment, and minimal investment, 100 pounds of cherry can be processed to 18 pounds of green bean – bringing a dollar amount of $270.00 (18 x $15.00) at the lowest end of the spectrum.

When you process your coffee to the fully roasted stage, you lose 85% of the weight of the cherry, however you can sell your green bean for $25.00 – $30.00 per pound.  With a minimal time commitment, and minimal investment, 100 pounds of cherry can be processed to 15 pounds of roasted coffee – bringing a dollar amount of $375.00 (15 x $25.00) at the lowest end of the spectrum.


4. Kona Coffee Is All Hand Picked

Kona coffee blooms in February and March. Small white flowers known as “Kona snow” cover the trees. Green berries appear in late March and April. By late August, the red fruit, called “cherry” because of resemblance to a cherry, start to ripen for picking.

Active farms in the area will either employ teams of pickers, or pick the coffee themselves. Each tree gets hand-picked several times between August and January and provides around 10 pound of cherry, which result in about 1.5 pounds of roasted coffee.

If you are going to process your coffee then within 24 hours of picking, the cherry should be run through a pulper which will remove the outer skin of the bean. The beans are separated from the pulp, and then placed overnight in a fermentation tank. The fermentation time is about 12 hours at a low elevation or 24 at a higher elevation.

The beans are rinsed and spread to dry on a drying deck or rack. Traditional decks have a rolling roof to cover the beans in the rain. It takes 7 to 14 days to dry beans to an optimal moisture level of between 10 and 13% (by Hawaii Department of Agriculture regulations). 
Kona Hawaii Beach

5. There Are A Lot Of Farms, But Not A Lot Of Estate Grown Roasted Coffee

The tradition of family farms continues today throughout Kona. The original Japanese families have been joined by Filipinos, mainland Americans, and Europeans over the years. Currently, there are approximately 800 Kona coffee farms listed in the Kona Coffee Belt, however, the majority of these farms are not “actively” farming and if they are farming their land, they are not producing their own roasted coffee.

Most active farmers will grow their coffee to the cherry stage, and sell the cherry to a larger farm.  The larger farm will blend the cherry with other cherry from around the area (as well as their own) and continue process the coffee to green bean or fully roasted.  Unfortunately, by doing this, the coffee loses its distinct “Estate Grown” taste, and becomes an amalgamation of all other farms in the area (still 100% Kona, not to be confused with a Kona Blend).

We here at Kona Loft Farms do everything here in house.  Grow, pick, process, dry, roast & package.  By doing all of this, we offer a true “Estate Grown” 100% Kona Coffee, which allows you to taste all the little nuances that our farm delivers through the tasting profile of our fresh roasted coffee. 

We hope you enjoy all the effort and love that we put into our coffee!!

 




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