I was surprised to learn how small the Kona coffee-growing region actually is. It’s only in the state of Hawaii, only on the Big Island, only in its Kona District on the west side of the island, and only on the slopes of Mount Hualanai and Mauna Loa. No wonder it’s a bit pricey.
At the risk of sounding like a commercial, it’s the unique climate and soil of this region that gives the coffee its richness. The Kona Coffee Council puts it this way: “Rocky volcano slopes nurture it. Sun-drenched mornings ripen it. Misty afternoons refresh it. Six hundred farmers meticulously handpick it.”
That’s right, six hundred farmers. There are no huge corporate farms on Kona. Only about 2,300 acres are available, and most local growers have less than five acres each. And because of the topography of the land and the uneven ripening rate of the “cherries” that hold the beans, Kona coffee is all picked by hand.
One word of warning before you buy – be careful of the wording on the package. Genuine Kona has a label with the words “100% Kona” on it. Be wary of “Kona Blend”, “Kona “Roast”, and “Kona Style.” Oh, and if you’re heading to Hawaii, how about bringing me back a couple of pounds? I’d be happy to put on a pot and share…