Kona Coffee has been praised by no other than the Mark Twain; in 1866 he stated that ‘Kona Coffee has a richer flavour than any other, be it grown where it may and call it by what name you please.’ The high elevation, rich volcanic soil, cloud coverage and perfect temperatures make Kona the ideal place to grow coffee that produces coffee as flawless as possible.
The attempt to make the coffee production into an industrial scale business did not have an easy start. In 1828 Samual Reverend Ruggles bought the first coffee plant to Kona, but it wasn’t until Henry Nicholas Greenwell relocated to Hawaii (around 1850) established Kona coffee and recognised it as a brand. The coffee production has fluctuated on Kona over the years but fortunately for Kona coffee fans, Coffee trees grow much better on volcanic soil than sugar canes, hence many sugar plantation have over the years been converted into coffee plantations.
The Kona Kai scandal took place between 1993-1996; the event had a dramatic affect on the Kona name, tarnishing it. A coffee supplier by the name of Michael Norton was selling cheap American coffee, re-bagging it and then labelling the commercial coffee as ‘100% pure Hawaii Kona’ therefore selling the wrongly labelled coffee above its true value. Due to the work of food scientist Joseph Rivera, a method of verifying the origin of a coffee bean was created and it’s now mandatory for all green coffee that is being exported from Hawaii to be certified by the State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture.
What is it about coffee from the Kona Mountains that makes it taste so good? The climate and soil where the coffee is grown has ideal conditions for the coffee beans. The volcanic soil and western slopes of the Kona Mountains provides shelter and fertile lands. The weather is a beneficial factor in the coffee growth, the sunny mornings combined with light afternoon rain provides natural irrigation. These conditions come together to create a bold coffee with a heady aroma, beautiful vibrant flavours reminiscent of red wine accompanied by spice notes; thus making Hawaiian Kona coffee the perfect coffee for the winter season.