by Neptune Coffee  | 

8 Best Kona Coffee Brands

Hawaii isn’t just for beachcombers, it’s also a coffee-lovers’ paradise.

Grown exclusively on the lava laden slopes of two of the Big Island’s notorious, active volcanoes – Hualalai and Mauna Loa – Kona Coffee is celebrated worldwide for its enviable quality and taste.

So, if you’re addicted to the magic bean juice, you should consider buying your next bag of premium beans from the Big Island.

We understand if you can’t catch the next flight out. Fortunately, to help you channel your inner aloha, we’ve compiled a list of the very best Kona Coffee beans for your drinking pleasure.

8 Best Hawaiian Coffee Brands

Coffee

Details

Price

Koa Coffee, Kona Grande Domaine Vienne Roast

  • Vienna Roast

Royal Kona, Estate 100% Kona Coffee

  • Medium Roast
  • Extra Fancy

Out of the Grey, Royal Kona Greenwell Estate Extra Fancy

  • Medium Roast
  • Handcrafted Organic, Extra Fancy

Imagine Coffee, 100% Kona Coffee

  • Medium/Dark Roast
  • Extra Fancy, Peaberry

Kona Gold Co., Estate Grown 100% Kona Coffee

  • Medium Roast

Hawaii Lion, 24K Gold Roast 100% Kona Coffee

  • Light/Medium Roast

Blue Horse, Farm-Direct 100% Kona Coffee

  • Dark Roast

Koa Coffee, Kona Peaberry Kona Coffee

  • Medium Roast

Koa Coffee, Kona Grande Domaine Vienne Roast

Grande Domaine Vienna Roast Whole Bean Kona Coffee
  • Vienna Roast

Starting as a mom and pop shop in the late 90s, Koa Coffee has quickly climbed the coffee become one of the most sought-after, trustworthy, and delicious Kona coffee bean brands around.

The winner of the esteemed Gevalia Cupping Competition and the PCCA Coffee of the Year, it’s safe to say that if you’re in the market for hand-picked, 100% authentic, first-class Kona beans, the Koa Coffee Plantation has you covered.

Forbes also happens to recognize the Koa Plantation as one of the top 10 coffees in the world and America’s best coffee – but no biggie, right?

But these accolades aren’t an accident. Koa’s Grande Domaine Kona, in particular, has earned quite a bit of notoriety amongst avid Kona Coffee drinkers for being smooth, flavorful, and bold.

Not to mention, this bean is one of the only of its kind and is without a doubt the rarest Kona bean Koa Coffee has to offer. The Koa Grande Domaine Kona is a unique blend of both Peaberry Kona and traditional 100% Kona beans.  

The result is a profoundly satisfying Vienna roast with subtle hints of chocolate and caramel (sans bitterness), shipped directly from the Kona Coffee belt to your front door.


Royal Kona, Estate 100% Kona Coffee

ESTATE MEDIUM ROAST 100% KONA COFFEE
  • Medium Roast
  • Extra Fancy

When is the last time your morning brew made you feel like royalty? According to Royal Kona, this bag of beans is coffee suited for Kings and Queens. So, if you’re not feeling the Monday morning vibes, a cup of this will have you feeling extra fabulous by the afternoon.

This 100% pure Kona bean is smooth, delicate, yet bright and clean. Royal Kona states that this Extra Fancy coffee bean is a tad bit lighter than their traditional Kona bean, but that its roast profile definitely won’t leave you disappointed.

Aside from being a pure, authentic, and highly acclaimed Kona bean, Royal Kona’s Estate bean is grown on a private reserve estate at a high altitude and is roasted using a custom roast profile. According to coffee connoisseurs, this bean is full-bodied, lacks bitterness, and consistently delicious.


Out of the Grey, Royal Kona Greenwell Estate Extra Fancy

SINGLE ORIGIN - ROYAL KONA GREENWELL ESTATE EXTRA FANCY - ORGANIC COFFEE
  • Medium Roast
  • Handcrafted Organic, Extra Fancy

Situated in the heart of Kona’s coffee growing region sits the Greenwell Farms, one of the industry’s leading manufacturers of premium Kona Coffee.

The Greenwell Farms have been around since the 1850s, setting the standard for growing, processing, roasting, and exporting the Kona bean. Out of the Grey, the reputable, small batch, organic coffee roaster hailing from Pennsylvania, prides themselves on capturing the aloha magic and delivering it to your doorstep.

Out of the Grey’s Royal Kona bean is described as a deep, medium brew with complex flavor notes including dark chocolate, strawberry, watermelon, musky lily, and roasted almond.

This bag of beans is not only vibrant, bold, and delightfully sweet, but it also happens to be 100% organic and Extra Fancy. And that Extra Fancy designation means you can expect the crème de la crème in terms of quality.


Imagine Coffee, 100% Kona Coffee

Kona Coffee Beans by Imagine - 100% Kona Hawaii - Medium Dark Roast Whole Bean (Peaberry – 8oz.)
  • Medium/Dark Roast
  • Extra Fancy, Peaberry

According to Imagine, if you’re a coffee connoisseur, this pure batch of Kona beans is reason enough to celebrate.

Like Out of the Grey, Imagine sources only the finest, 100% authentic, Extra Fancy gourmet Kona beans. And because only 10% of Kona coffee beans get to flaunt this type of reputation, we agree, it’s worth writing home about.

These beans are air roasted to minimize acidity and maximize smooth and robust flavor notes. Grown beneath the shade of Macadamia nut trees, you can expect a truly unique sweetness that isn’t found in every Kona bean.

In addition to premium taste, these beans are hand-picked, sun-dried, and are sure to deliver the caffeine kick you need to survive the work week.


Kona Gold Co., Estate Grown 100% Kona Coffee

Kona Gold Coffee Whole Beans - 16 oz, by Kona Gold Rum Co. - Medium/Dark Roast Extra Fancy - 100% Kona Coffee
  • Medium Roast

Like Koa Coffee, Kona Gold boasts a host of impressive coffee-related accomplishments. In fact, this particular bag of Kona beans landed first place in the Kona Crown Competition Division at the 2016 Kona Coffee Cupping Competition.

But aside from sipping on award-winning cup of joe, you can expect a crisp, fruity, creamy brew with hints of molasses, melon, clove, and brown sugar.

Kona Gold’s medium-dark Kona beans are not only authentic, they are all-natural, hand-picked, wet-processed, sun-dried, and air roasted.

What does this all mean? Basically, these beans are guaranteed to fill your kitchen and cup with the aromatic, bright, full-bodied flavors and smells that make the coveted Kona Coffee bean so extraordinary.

According to Kona Gold, these beans are also grown at a single estate beneath the shade of Macadamia Nut and Ohia trees. This mineral-rich, volcanic soil enhances the characteristic Kona flavor profile to include subtle notes of citrus, raspberry, peach, and apple.


Hawaii Lion, 24K Gold Roast 100% Kona Coffee

HAWAIIAN LION 24K GOLD ROAST 100% KONA COFFEE
  • Light/Medium Roast

Have you been picking up on the Kona Coffee trend? Most of the Big Island beans on this list offer plenty of glitz, glam, and gold coffee bags.

Hawaii Lion appears to step it up a notch by adorning their bag with 24 karats. While the bag itself probably isn’t made of pure gold, the beans inside are guaranteed to be 100% pure Kona Coffee – which is basically the same thing, right?

Hawaii Lion brings us the first light-medium roast on this list, but even a diehard coffee drinker will appreciate the naturally robust, smooth flavor profile of this Kona bean.

In fact, this particular bag of beans is not only turning heads in the diehard coffee-drinking community but is also convincing former coffee adversaries that not all beans are created equal.

According to one novice coffee-drinker, a cup of 24k is surprisingly devoid of bitterness and is as smooth as “unsweetened butter.”


Blue Horse, Farm-Direct 100% Kona Coffee

Farm-direct: 100% Kona Coffee, Dark Roast, Whole Beans, 1 Lb
  • Dark Roast

Keeping with the trend of authenticity, Blue Horse outlines several reasons why 100% Kona coffee tastes better than a blend.

For starters, their shade-grown, hand-picked, wet-processed, sustainably grown dark roast lacks excess acidity, is subtly sweet, incredibly aromatic, and “the way nature intended it to be.”

Next, Blue Horse has employed a unique, nitrogen-flushed, multi-layer laminated zip-lock bag that is meant to lock in freshness, so you can divulge in the true taste and aroma a crisp cup of Kona Coffee every single time you brew.

Last, but certainly not least, this single-origin bag of beans strikes the perfect balance between sweet and smooth, without losing any of its vigor.


Koa Coffee, Kona Peaberry Kona Coffee

Peaberry Medium Roast Whole Bean Kona Coffee
  • Medium Roast

Koa Coffee is back at it, but this time with a feistier Peaberry Kona bean.

Don’t fret – Koa’s Peaberry beans share all of the sparkling characteristics of their Grande Domaine Vienna Roast. Like it’s brotherly bean, the peaberry roast is full-bodied, smooth, highly-acclaimed, and flavorful.

So, what’s the difference?

Unlike the Grande Domaine bean, Koa’s Peaberry medium roast contains the atypical and elusive peaberry. Peaberry Kona is known to be lively and is often described as the “Champagne of Kona.”


Why is Kona Coffee So Expensive?

Coffee plantation on hills over Kona
Coffee plantation. Big Island, Hawaii.

The 100%, authentic Kona bean is considered to be one of the best coffee beans in the world. An ideal coffee growing climate, hand-cultivation, and wet-method processing all lend a hand in crafting an exceptional bean.

Unfortunately, the Kona bean’s exclusivity and incredibly labor-intensive process come at a cost. From planting, to picking, to drying, to sorting, and even roasting – the entire Kona bean process is done by hand on small, family-owned and operated coffee farms.

And course, it’s worth noting that the Kona bean is grown on a tiny, volcanic island that sits thousands of miles from the nearest landmass.

Hawaii is considered one of the most remote islands in the world, which comes with a justifiably high cost of living, as well as added expenses for growing and shipping high-quality coffee beans.

Kona Counterfeits Vs. Kona Blends

The hefty price tag of a Kona bean often drives coffee-lovers to seek out cheaper alternatives. And while there's nothing wrong with drinking a Kona blend vs. the real deal, it's important to know you’re actually buying.

The sad reality for Kona coffee farmers is that Kona coffee copycats often mislead coffee connoisseurs with creative advertising terms like “Kona Roast” or “Kona Style.”

These words are not proprietary, which means anyone can slap a faux Kona label on a bag of beans and pass them off as genuine – they don't even have to be from Hawaii.

Fortunately, to put the kibosh on bogus beans, the Department of Agriculture implemented very particular labeling requirements for Kona beans.

Beans that are 100% Kona have to be labeled as such, followed by the word coffee (i.e. Kona Coffee). Kona blends have to include their origin, Kona, as well as both the percent of Kona coffee and the words “coffee blend.”

This makes picking out the perfect blend (or authentic Kona bean) pretty straightforward. If it doesn’t meet those requirements, it’s a fraud!

Kona blends contain a minimum of 10% Kona, making them a less expensive varietal. However, they do actuallycontain a blend of Kona beans. In fact, some coffee-lovers actually prefer Kona blends over 100% Kona beans - we'll let you be the judge.

What’s in a Grade?

Remember those pesky Kona coffee imposters? Well, after battling an influx of disingenuous coffee beans, The Hawaii Agricultural Society decided to tack on an extra inspection step before allowing Kona coffee to be sold.

There are five grades of Kona coffee – Kona Extra Fancy, Kona Fancy, Kona Number 1, Kona Select, and Kona Prime. We’ll admit, decoding the Kona coffee standards can be tricky.

Just as their name implies, Kona Extra Fancy and Kona Fancy beans are the swankiest beans in the lineup. Both beans large, comparatively  rare, and are known to be mild and smooth.

Ironically, Kona Number 1 actually comes in third. But, together with Kona Select, these medium-to-small-sized beans offer a bold body coupled with a nutty, smooth finish.

Kona Prime beans are where the line gets drawn. Anything that doesn’t meet the requirements of a Kona Prime bean isn’t a Kona bean at all.

These beans might be a little more rough around the edges, but they’re still an authentic Kona, so you can expect a high-quality coffee bean nonetheless.

A conversation about Kona coffee wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the Peaberry.

Classified as a Type II bean, the Peaberry is the rarest Kona coffee bean. Peaberries generally receive a little extra TLC in the sorting and inspection process, making them arguably the most delicious Kona bean on this list.

Kona Coffee Growing Regions

Despite producing approximately 95% of coffee on the Big Island, you won’t find large-scale coffee manufacturers in the Kona Coffee Belt.

Instead, the landscape is dotted by hundreds of small coffee farms and estates, hand-picking, growing, and producing premium beans year-round. But although they are little, they are fierce – these mom and pop operations produce over 2 million pounds of Kona Coffee beans every year.

100% pure Kona Coffee is grown exclusively in the tropical region of the north and south Kona district on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa.

This region is blessed with all of the characteristics of an ideal coffee-growing region: Mineral-rich, volcanic soil, high-altitudes, tropical temperatures, periodic rain, and ample tree cover.

Conclusion

It’s time to turn your morning brew into a relaxing island escape. Kona Coffee is a really special, one-of-a-kind premium bean. Is it worth the extra cash? We certainly think so.

Regardless of which particular Kona bean you choose, we’re confident you’ll be glad you spoiled yourself on a beautifully vibrant, smooth, robust Hawaiian brew.