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Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee vs Kona: What’s the Difference?

All of you coffee enthusiasts and newbies alike have certainly heard of Blue Mountain and Kona coffee. These two are some of the most sought after beans on the planet. You may be wondering if they are that different from each other.

Keep reading as we break down Blue Mountain coffee vs Kona.

Coffee ID: What Is What?

First, let’s get to know each coffee.

blue mountain vs kona coffee info table
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Blue Mountain Coffee

This sought after brew comes from beans planted in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. These Jamaican coffee beans must be grown in one of four parishes within a particular elevation range. All growers have to be certified by the Jamaican coffee regulatory body (1). This organization holds plantation owners accountable for their products and prevents fraudulent sales. The best thing is that there are now several Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee tours you can visit to see the whole process for yourself.

Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee gets its one-of-a-kind flavor profile from the unique climate of this small mountain range in Jamaica. The area-specific weather and soil conditions produce a bean known for its lack of bitterness balanced by underlying notes of herbs, chocolate, and nuts.

This smooth coffee is carefully harvested and sorted by hand. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee beans can cost over $100 for 16 ounces due to the bean’s high quality and rarity.

Related: How to Brew Your JBM Coffee.

Kona Coffee

Kona is also known for being one of the best coffees in the world. Only coffee grown in the Kona district on the Big Island of Hawaii is classified as Kona coffee. Even more specifically, the coffee beans must be cultivated from the slopes of Mauna Loa or Hualalai. Just like Blue Mountain coffee, Hawaiian Kona coffee is grown at high elevation on a mountainside.

High altitude growth allows the beans to develop rich, complex sugars that create the sought after flavors.

The Department of Agriculture has a classification system for Kona beans to rank their quality and set guidelines for specific grades (2). Type 1 Kona Extra Fancy is the most pristine and expensive grade. It can cost around $35 for 16 ounces, so it is significantly cheaper than Blue Mountain coffee.

Each roast of Kona coffee has a different flavor profile. Medium roast is the most popular. It is known for its smoothness and balance of cherry, almond, and chocolate notes.

Brewing Methods

The first step in for any optimal brewing process is to start with the perfect beans. Make sure your beans of either type come from a packaged bag. Some supermarkets may sell Hawaiian Kona or Blue Mountain beans by bulk from a bin. This increased exposure to light and oxygen degrades the quality of these exceptional beans.

When you buy coffee, make sure it comes in a bag, and steer away from the big bins at the supermarket.

Using a French press or percolator will yield the highest quality cup for both of these coffees. Mix in 2 tbsp of freshly ground beans for every 8 oz of water and brew as you normally would. Boil your water to 205 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal flavor extraction.

Final Thoughts

In the frequent debate of Blue Mountain vs Kona, there are two winners. Each type of coffee is grown in unique microelement conditions that allow their distinct flavors to develop. Blue Mountain coffee is more nutty and herbal, while Kona is more fruit-forward. You will have to try both to determine your preference.

FAQs

You will know that your coffee is authentic if it has proof of authenticity. Blue Mountain coffee will have a Seal of Certification. For Kona coffee, you have to look at the percentage of Kona beans on the label. Only 100% Kona beans are a completely authentic product.

Yes, both Blue Mountain and Kona coffee have organic beans you can buy.

You could brew your coffee in an electric drip coffee maker, but you will miss out on each bean’s intense flavors. If you want to brew with a pour-over method, a Chemex-like mechanism will yield the best flavors.

  1. (n.d.) Divisions Coffee. Retrieved from http://jacra.org/divisions/coffee/background/
  2. (2014, February 26). Department of Agriculture: Amendment and Compilation of Chapter 4-143 Hawaii Administrative Rules. Retrieved from http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Chapter-4-143-5.24-14-final.pdf
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I come from a country where people drink domestic coffee (what the rest of the world knows as Turkish coffee) and where Nescafe designates all instant coffees ever made. So, imagine my first encounter with, say, Hario V60...Yes, it was love at first sight. Today I’m a moderate coffee connoisseur and a huge coffee lover. My favorite brewing methods are the V60 and traditional espresso-making. Yet, despite my country’s long tradition of Turkish-coffee-adoring, I somehow cannot stand it. That’s just too dark, even for me.

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