Here's How To Find The Best Kona Coffee (and avoid the scams)

Have you ever tried coffee from the Kona coast? There's a reason its held in such high regards in the coffee community.

I bought 6 months worth of 'Kona' before realising that something terrible had happened. I'd been buying a fake blend.

So before you buy Kona beans online, be warned: Most of the beans sold as 'Kona' don’t live up to their name. 'Kona beans' are often mixed with cheaper beans to produce affordable blends...but this isn't obvious. 

It's like someone is serving you a fine wine....but watering it down to sell more of it.

This guide will help you stay away from the crap and buy the only Kona worth buying - the real deal.

TOP PICK: The Koa Coffee Tri-pack

3 pack of Koa Coffee

Koa Coffee sells only the best beans direct from the Kona coffee farm, at the best possible price.

The Tri-pack includes 3 types of Kona for variety, one of which was voted 'best in America' by Forbes.

Koa often runs discounts on this deal for new customers, so click the link below for the best valued, quality Kona coffee online.

The Kona Industry and Its Scams

Unfortunately, many opportunists hope to make money in this space. This has led to an abundance of falsely marketed Kona products.

How do you tell what's real, and what's a scam?

Stay Away From “Kona Blends”

Because there is only a limited amount of 'the real deal' available, and it’s very expensive, many companies produce “Kona blends” at a more affordable price. Stay away from these. You want pure Kona only.

According to Hawaiian law, any blend labeled as a “Kona blend” must contain at least 10% of certified Kona beans. Companies wanting to make a buck will, naturally, use the 10% and not one bean more. 90% of these blends will contain low quality dark roast and city roast crap.

Do the math - you will not be getting much Kona in your cup.

An information about why we need to avoid Kona Blends

Even worse, some companies go full-on scammy and don’t use any certified Kona at all.

While the Hawaiian law is strict on this, many places don’t care if companies are using the Kona name merely for marketing purposes. In many countries, so-called Kona beans might contain only a tiny fraction of Kona beans, or none at all.

For this reason, you should buy Kona that is from the island of Hawaii and labelled 100% Pure Kona coffee. Stay away from all "Kona Blends".

Stay Away From 'Kona Beans' That Are NOT from the Kona Region

Like Champagne in France, the Kona Belt of Hawaii is prized for its excellent microclimate. However, this doesn’t apply for all of Hawaii. In fact, most other islands of Hawaii, including Maui and Kauai, are poorly suited for coffee farming.

Here's a general guide to coffee in Hawaii, where you can find about everything that is not Kona related.

facts about hawaiian coffee

Because of a long history of sugarcane farming, the soil of most Hawaiian islands has been exhausted and stripped of nutrition. The clay soil type is much less fertile than the rich volcanic earth of Kona, and the climate isn’t as favourable for growing coffee.

The term “Hawaiian coffee” is sometimes used on packaging to denote high quality, but this is simply misleading advertising.

Don’t be fooled, because not all Hawaiian coffee is first-class. There may be individual non-Kona-coffees from Hawaii that are excellent in their own right.

As a general rule, Hawaiian coffee from outside Kona is not any better than, say, the average coffee from Brazil.

Always Check 'The Grade'

Hawaiian coffee goes through the most meticulous testing in the world, with each batch of Kona receiving a grade from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDA).

If you want to make sure you’re getting the best of the best, you should pay attention to the HDA grade of the Kona. The grade is based on criteria including the size, shape, moisture content and possible flaws in the beans.

Hawaiian coffee is divided into eight grade bands, which are:

  1. Extra fancy (the highest quality)
  2. Fancy
  3. No.1
  4. Select
  5. Prime
  6. No. 3
  7. Natural Prime
  8. Mixed Natural Prime (The lowest quality)

“Extra Fancy” is the highest quality of bean, although any of the first 5 categories can be considered a high-class bean. Grading is affected by qualities like bean size and rarity, which doesn’t really affect the taste of the coffee.

Extra Fancy grades are uniform in colour, size, and contains almost no defective beans. They’re the most luxurious Kona beans you can get - and you’ll be paying a premium for it!

But it’s worth every single penny.

>>> Click Here To Try Authentic, High Quality Kona Coffee


Top 5: Best Kona Coffee Beans

Now you know how to recognise the good from the bad and the ugly: Avoid 'blends', go for beans grown in the right region, and pay attention to the grade band.

To make it even easier to find that perfect taste of Hawaii, we’ve found a few options for you.

IMAGEPRODUCTDESCRIPTION
hg-table__imageKeala's Hawaiian Coffee
  • Medium roast produces a balanced flavour profile
  • Extra Fancy grade beans bought directly from farmers
  • Ships freshly roasted
CHECK PRICE →
hg-table__imageVolcanica Coffee Hawaiian Kona
  • Another balanced medium roast with mild sweetness and low acidity
  • Freshness Guaranteed - Beans are roasted only AFTER order
  • Ground according to your preference
CHECK PRICE →
hg-table__imageKoa Coffee - Tripack
  • With three different coffees, it’s the perfect introduction to Kona
  • Based in Hawaii, Koa grows its own beans
  • High quality beans picked by hand
CHECK PRICE →
hg-table__imageHawaii Coffee Company - Royal Kona Estate Kona Coffee
  • Light roast - bright flavour profile
  • Beans are roasted AFTER you order
CHECK PRICE →
hg-table__imageKoa Coffee - Peaberry Kona
  • Peaberry beans, which are regarded as a rare delicacy
  • Smooth and sweet flavour
  • High class and high quality Koa Coffee
CHECK PRICE →
Coffee Farm

A coffee plantation in Maui

1. - The Keala 100% Kona (Via BeanBox)

Bean box kona coffee on table
  • Grade: 1 (Extra Fancy)
  • Customer Service: Excellent
  • Shipping time: 1-3 days

Keala’s Hawaiian Coffee is pure Kona coffee roasted by a Seattle company. The Extra Fancy grade beans are bought directly from Kona coffee farms on the Honolulu slopes of Big Island and roasted in small batches.

Keala’s medium roast produces a pleasant and balanced flavor profile. Bright and fruity flavors are complemented with sweeter notes of toasted coconut, while Keala’s claims the main flavor is passion fruit.

Their medium roast allows you to experience the different nuances of high-grade Kona without any flavor overpowering the others.

Traveling all the way from the lush volcanic soil of Holualoa to your favorite coffee cup, the Keala beans are a good all-rounder introduction to this lovely blend.

PROS

  • Medium roast produces a balanced flavor profile
  • Extra Fancy grade beans bought directly from farmers
  • Ships freshly roasted

CONS

  • If you prefer a dark roast these might not have enough body
  • Low acidity also offers limited kick - although can be increased by Aeropress brew

#2. Volcanica Coffee - Hawaiian Kona Coffee Extra Fancy

1 pack of Volcanica Coffee

Highlighted Features:

  • Grade: 1 (Extra Fancy)
  • Customer Service: Excellent
  • Shipping time: 1-2 days

Volcanica specializes in coffee that has been grown at altitudes of 3,000 to 7,000 meters and in volcanic soil - so it only makes sense to see them selling this bean. Their Hawaiian Kona Coffee Extra Fancy is another solid medium roast. Their offering has a slightly fuller body than Keala’s, giving a rich but mellow flavor low in acidity.

Volcanica’s Kona is shade-grown, contributing for its mellow, easy-drinking flavor profile. These beans are really making the most of their unique microclimate.

Like most coffees on this list, the Volcanica beans have also received the coveted Extra Fancy grade. With a fuller body, they will satisfy those coffee lovers who like a rich flavor but also enjoy mellow brews low in acidity.

In addition to whole beans, Volcanica also sells these beans ready-ground according to your preferences, which is a plus if you don’t like home grinding. The beans are only roasted after being bought, so you can be sure they are as fresh as possible.

NOTE: Volcanica is committed to a policy of roasting your coffee fresh and shipping it out the next day. They offer U.S., Canada, military, and even international shipping options + free shipping on orders over $60 (which would include this Kona coffee!).They even accept returns within 30 days.

PROS

  • Another balanced medium roast with mild sweetness and low acidity
  • The beans are roasted only after order to ensure freshness
  • Volcanica can also grind the beans according to your preferences

CONS

  • Steep price - but you know you’re getting the good stuff

3.  The Koa Coffee - Tripack [CURRENT FAVORITE]

3 pack of Koa Coffee
  • Grade: 1 (Extra Fancy)
  • Customer Service: Excellent
  • Shipping time: 1-2 business days

The Hawaii-based Koa Coffee has been in the business since 1997, and their K-coffee has been rewarded with titles like PCCA Coffee of the Year and winner of the Gevalia Cupping Competition. They feature as the number one Kona on our list of best coffee beans here.

With Koa Coffee, you know you’re buying from a well-established and popular brand: they have a huge reputation to live up to. Koa Coffee also reward loyalty with special discounts for people in their coffee club, and well-priced multi-buy packages.

The Kona Coffee Tripack Medium is an especially good deal, including three 8-ounce bags of Kona for a bundle discount price. This tripack includes three types of Kona: the Grande Domaine, the Private Reserve, and the Estate.

Their Grande Domaine is produced from trees that were planted a century ago. It is a rich, smooth coffee with minimal bitterness; ideal easy-drinking coffee for any time of day.

The Private Reserve was once awarded the “Best in America” by Forbes. It is made exclusively with hand picked Extra Fancy beans. When you want something truly luxurious, it’s hard to go wrong with this one.

Finally, Their Estate is a rich and fragrant blend of the three highest-quality Kona grades.

BEST SUITED FOR: Those looking for The best Kona at the best price. You get 3 packs, but you get the best deal. Click here to see the best price on this deal.

PROS

  • Award-winning company
  • The tripack bundle is very economical yet extremely high quality
  • With three different coffees, it’s the perfect introduction to Kona
  • High quality beans picked by hand

CONS

  • They only offer one ground option or whole beans

4.  The Hawaii Coffee Company - Royal Kona Estate Kona Coffee

Royal Kona Coffee for royalty
  • Grade: 1 (Extra Fancy)
  • Customer Service: Excellent
  • Shipping time: 1-2 business days

The Hawaii Coffee Company is another well-established brand based in Hawaii. It has a very long history, with its precedent Royal Kona being established already in 1968.

They source their beans from their own plantations, like Koa Coffee.

Their Royal Kona Estate Kona Coffee is another high-class option. It has a clean, bright flavour profile, due to being a lighter roast than most Kona roasts. 

The Royal Kona distinguished from other brands on this list by its fruity and clear taste.

If you prefer light roasts, you might find this one particularly appealing (perfect for pour over coffee).

The Hawaiian Coffee Company offers this coffee in whole bean or “all purpose grind”. The beans are medium-roasted only after being ordered, so they should be as fresh as possible.

NOTE: Both flat rate and expedited shipping options are offered within the U.S. Very affordable Flat Rate prices are offered during the holiday season on all orders as well.

PROS

  • Brighter flavor profile than the others on this list, good if you like light roasts
  • Roasted to order

CONS

  • If you like smoother, richer flavors, this might not have enough body

5. Koa Coffee - Peaberry Kona

A pack of coffee
  • Grade: Only sells the top grades of Kona
  • Customer Service: Excellent
  • Shipping time: 1-2 business days

The Peaberry Kona is another very strong offering from Koa Coffee.

Peaberry” is a type of coffee beans which many people consider the most delicious of them all. Smaller and packing more flavour, these beans are a created by a natural mutation inside the coffee plant.

Of the yearly Kona harvest, only a fraction are peaberry-shaped. According to Koa Coffee, only about 3-5 out of every 100 coffee beans are peaberries. Their Peaberry Kona is a rare delicacy, with demand often exceeding supply.

Even smoother and sweeter than regular Kona, the Peaberry Kona might just blow your mind.

While Koa Coffee is not the only company selling peaberry coffee, their expertise means you can trust the beans are hand-picked and treated well before making it to your cup.

NOTE: Both flat rate and expedited shipping options are offered within the U.S. Very affordable Flat Rate prices are offered during the holiday season on all orders as well.

PROS

  • Peaberry beans are regarded as a rare delicacy
  • The smoother and sweeter flavor profile suits K-coffee especially well
  • A reliably high-class Koa Coffee offering

CONS

  • Limited availability

THE VERDICT: Where To Get The Best Kona Coffee Beans?

>>> My choice: The Koa Coffee Tripack. Click here To Check The Price

All of the Kona brands on this list are worth their premium price but one offering is a head above the others: the Koa Coffee Tripack, which represents amazing value for three bags of top-class Kona.

3 pack of Koa Coffee
The logo of KOA Coffee

If you’ve never tried Kona before and want to see what all the fuss is about, the Tripack is also great for offering three distinct types and flavor profiles.

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Alex
 

Alex is the Founder and Editor of Homegrounds.co. He is passionate about brewing amazing coffee at home, and teaching others to do the same.