Are Kona Coffee Beans Oily?

Suppose you found a bag of Kona beans with a shiny coating of oil. Now, are Kona coffee beans oily, and does this mean you can't use them anymore? For this guide, you're going to see if Kona beans should be oily, what it means, and how you can prevent it.

Are Kona Coffee Beans Oily?

Kona coffee beans are oily if you're using dark roasted or stale beans. Coffee beans naturally release oils, and the longer they get roasted, the oilier they become. Besides, it's normal for fresh, dark roasted Kona beans to have an oily sheen, even after brewing.

Coffee beans scattered around a cup of coffee

Having oily Kona beans doesn't necessarily mean your coffee will taste bad. This is why it's essential that you understand the roasting process to see why beans get oily and what you can do about it.

Why Do Kona Coffee Beans Have Oil?

Kona coffee beans are oily because of the farming and roasting processes. In some cases, it may be because of prolonged storage.

  • Farming: Oily beans come from a chemical reaction between the beans and oxygen. For instance, Kona coffee farmers at the Bay View Farmdry the beans immediately after harvesting. While most of the moisture evaporates, the sugar and oils remain.
  • Roasting: Beans roasted longer, like a dark roast or French roast, tend to have an oilier appearance. When beans get exposed to heat, the shell cracks, and the oils inside would move to the surface. This provides a shiny coating and a strong aroma to Kona coffee.
  • Improper storage: It's normal for freshly roasted Kona beans to have an oily sheen. However, when beans are left in storage for a long time, they may continue to excrete oils. 

What Are the Effects of Oily Coffee Beans?

Kona coffee beans that are oily may have certain effects in the brewing process and, consequently, the taste.Oily Kona coffee beans

  • Oily Kona coffee beans can make your bean hopper sticky. This may impede the beans from flowing smoothly into the grinder.
  • If not cleaned regularly, your grinder may become gummed up due to the oily grounds sticking together. The oil can also clog the brew units and filters, which may cause your machine to struggle in producing an espresso shot.
  • If the oil comes from stale beans, the rancid oil may produce a foul-tasting coffee, leaving an unpleasant aftertaste.
  • There's still a positive effect. If you love a distinct burnt or bitter taste, the oils from dark roast Kona coffee can provide that smoky flavor.
  • When combined with air bubbles, the oils can produce the much-needed crema in an espresso shot.

Can I Dry Oily Kona Beans?

No, you can't dry oily beans as they would simply release oil over time. Moreover, you can't wash the oiliness away. Washing would allow moisture absorption and downgrade the taste of coffee.

You can still use oily Kona coffee beans by grinding them slightly coarse. This kind of grind can extract more decadent flavors while avoiding bitter notes.

Aside from that, you can use cold brew to extract flavor from oily Kona beans. The cooler temperature won't extract the harsh, bitter flavor. Studies show that cold brew has 66% less acidity and bitterness than hot coffee. Coffee beans roasting on a pan

How to Prevent Oily Kona Coffee Beans

Kona beans become oily due to roasting and storage. However, there are ways you can stop the beans from further releasing oils. 

  • Change roast level: Try light roast or medium roast 100% Kona coffee. These have less oily surfaces since they have shorter roasting times.
  • Seal your coffee containers: If you prefer a dark roast, transfer the coffee beans to an airtight container. In this way, you can prevent a chemical reaction or oxidation, stopping the beans from releasing more oils.
  • Buy in small batches: Keeping coffee freshly ground is among the best ways to minimize oil. With that said, you can use single-serve coffee or buy small packs first. In this way, you would only need to grind the amount you would use for a brewing session.

Related Questions

How Can I Tell If My Kona Coffee Has Gone Bad?

Your Kona coffee has gone bad if you notice dry beans, reduced color, musty smell, and a bland flavor. When you drink a cup of stale coffee, it may taste bready or cardboard-like. However, there are ways to fix weak coffee, like adding flavor enhancers.

How to Degrease an Oily Espresso Machine?

To remove oil in your espresso machine, force a half cup of descaling solution (one-part vinegar and two parts water) through the portafilter and the steam wand. Allow the solution to sit for another 20 minutes. Flush the rest of the solution, then flush clean water to rinse the machine.


It's normal for Kona coffee beans to be oily, especially when using dark roasted ones. The oils can affect how strong Kona coffee is and even how you drink it. Lava Lei 100% Kona coffee ensures you can get a fresh batch of beans while maximizing the natural oils.