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Kona Coffee Turns a Cup of Jo in to a Cup of Aloha

There’s nothing quite like a Hawaiian vacation. Snorkeling, whale watching and cruising the beautiful Kona Coast, is a paradise lover’s dream come true. Yet, while our pristine warm waters and tropical marine life is second to none, Kona is also known for its delicious above ground treasure. Kona’s world-famous “coffee belt” is only about a mile wide and 30 miles long and produces some of the best coffee in the world.

diagram, map

Kona Coffee Belt

Residents of Hawaiʻi Island take their coffee seriously. So much so, that many residents and visitors alike never leave the island without packing a bag or two in their luggage. There’s nothing quite like opening your suitcase to have the delicious scent of the island come wafting out of your bag. The aroma of Kona Coffee is as much the scent of Hawai’i as coconut lotion and leis.

Hawaiʻi Island, and more specifically South Kona, is the perfect environment for growing and producing coffee. Its sunny mornings and afternoon rains, combined with the island’s rich volcanic soil provides the ideal conditions for growing the perfect coffee cherry.

Visitors can take a free tour of one of the many coffee farms dotting the Kona landscape. Take in the cool morning air while learning all about how Kona Coffee is grown and what makes it so special. Enjoy coffee tastings on a farm, then head out to lunch at one of the quaint cafes in South Kona. You’ll have plenty of time left to browse the shops on Aliʻi Drive before boarding the Kanoa II for a historical sunset dinner cruise. Cruise down to Kealakekua Bay and Captain Cook’s Monument where you’ll get a great view of coffee country from the ocean.

Each coffee farm in Kona is known for producing coffee with a well-balanced flavor uniquely its own. One special characteristic of Kona coffee is that the coffee cherries are hand-picked only when ripe. According to the Kona Coffee Council, each bean must be picked by hand and inspected upon harvest to ensure its ripeness. This results in coffee cherries being harvested at the peak of perfection. This is unlike mechanical harvests, which require the crop to be picked all at once. This results in a combination of overripe and immature beans.

a group of fruit and vegetables on display

Coffee ‘Cherry’ – left, Roasted Kona Coffee Beans – right

Hand picking coffee is a laborious task, and is one of the reasons coffee grown in Hawaiʻi is relatively expensive compared to other coffees. It’s important to keep in mind that a farm worker in Hawaiʻi is paid significantly more than a farm worker in South America or Africa. This is one of the reasons it is important to purchase fair trade coffee.

Coffee is an important component to the cultural heritage of Kona, and the history of Hawaiʻi Island. Be sure to make Kona Coffee a part of your vacation plans when visiting. One warning however—once you experience a ‘Cup of Aloha,’ you may just be hooked for life!