In 1866, famous novelist Mark Twain stated that Kona Coffee was the richest in flavor of any coffee he had ever tasted.
The coffee industry is now worth more than $100 billion globally. So the richness of Hawaiian Isles coffee must be quite something! That’s why many serious roasters use Hawaiian Coffee beans over other types of coffee. But why? If you’re thinking of using Kona coffee in your roasts then you’ll want to know why it is one of the best out there. Well, you’re in the right place! Read on to find out more about why the best Hawaiian coffee is becoming the best coffee in the world.
Hawaiian Coffee Has Ancient Origins
These ancient origins create a path for truly excellent coffee. Coffee arrived in Hawaii in 1810 in the belongings of American Missionaries. They didn’t know then that they were bringing it to one of the best growing lands in the world. The soil was ready following Hualalai’s eruption of 1800 to 1801. The first coffee plantation in Hawaii opened in 1828. It was owned by Samual Reverend Ruggles. This plant grew a strain of Arabica coffee beans from Brazil. And most plantations grew Brazilian Arabica bushes until 1897. But in 1892, a gentleman called Herman Weidemann came to Hawaii, and he brought a Guatemalan strain of Arabica coffee beans to the isles. These ancient beans are the granddaddy of great tasting coffee. Weidemann convinced coffee growers to use this superior strain in 1897. And it’s still used today!
The Best Hawaiian Coffee Gets its Great Taste From the Land
Hawaii’s unique climate creates the best coffee-growing land in the world. This is the Kona Coffee Belt! This region is 30 miles long and approximately 1 mile wide. It sits above the southwest coast of Hawaii’s largest island. And on either side are the Hualalai and Mauna Loa volcanoes. These volcanoes are partially responsible for this fertile land. Their volcanic eruptions create soil that is rich with vitamins and minerals. The Kona coffee beans soak these straight up. The mountains also create shelter from the Arabic bushes. Mild temperatures and light cloud coverage combine with this mountain shelter. And the weather perfectly compliments coffee growth.
It is sunny in the mornings but rains lightly in the afternoons. The result is natural irrigation and some of the best coffee beans in the world! Kona coffee is smooth, medium-bodied and has a subtle nutty flavor. Where sugar cane plantations have struggled, the coffee bushes thrive. But Kona coffee isn’t the only coffee to come out of Hawaii! Kaanapali coffee and Kauai coffee boast high-quality peaberry beans! They also plant in a more accessible region. This means these beans don’t come with the Kona price tag.
Kona Coffee is Naturally Nurtured
The coffee plantation owners take their lead from this perfect natural environment. They use natural resources to nurture their crops. The Mountain Thunder plantation in the Kona region is the perfect example. It uses homemade fertilizer and compost. Cherry skins, coffee husks, seaweed, and other organic material create the perfect fertilizer. They also use livestock to enrich the environment. Sheep and donkeys add to the natural fertilizer with their droppings. Meanwhile, geese, roosters, and hens are able to fight weeds and pests. This means the Arabica bushes grow without interference from pesticides, herbicides or GMOs.
Hawaiian Coffee is Picked With Care
Different plantations around Hawaii used different methods to pick their coffee beans. In Kona beans are hand-picked. Whereas in Kauai production is mechanized. In both regions, the coffee beans usually dry in the sun on a hoshidana.The beans dry in temperatures that can reach up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit for seven to fourteen days.
After this their moisture levels are between ten and thirteen percent. This low moisture level limits the growth of ochratoxin A, which is harmful to humans. Once they have reached this perfect level, they are ready for sorting.
The Famous Peaberry
Coffee from the island of Maui is particularly prized for its peaberry beans. And this might be why some people claim that Maui is the best coffee in the whole of Hawaii! A peaberry bean has a rich, concentrated flavor. This is because it is formed when only one seed in the coffee cherry develops. One side of the flower fuses with the other and the result is a small, pea-like bean. And the peaberry doesn’t just have a stronger flavor. They also roast more evenly. Unlike regular coffee beans, it is round rather than flat. This means the beans can rolls easily over one another in the roasting chamber. Their dense structure also helps heat transfer during roasting. So if you come across a Hawaiian peaberry you know you’re looking at the best of the best.
Make Sure You’re Tasting Proper Hawaiian Coffee
But you’ve got to be careful that you’re getting the proper coffee beans! The ‘Kona coffee’ name is like ‘champagne’. The name comes from the region. So only coffee from the Kona region is proper Kona coffee. But over the years, several companies have misused the respected name of Kona coffee. One example of this took place between 1993 and 1996. An American coffee company re-bagged cheap American coffee in Kona coffee packaging. And while this is an old scam, you still need to keep an eye out to make sure you’re getting the right thing. Kona Blend coffee only contains 10% Kona beans. And they’re usually mixed with Brazilian, African or Indonesian beans.
The Bottom Line
Hawaiian coffee absorbs all the benefits of its unique ecosystem. This creates a rich, smooth coffee that is hard to beat. From the famous Kona belt all the way to Maui’s peaberry beans there’s nothing quite like it. And for more information on the latest coffee trends, check out our blog here! Or get in touch with any questions. We’re here to help!