Is Kona Coffee Arabica Beans?

When trying out a new coffee origin, you may want to get as much information about it as possible, like is Kona coffee Arabica beans? To better understand Kona coffee's origin, we're explaining its relation to the Arabica varietal and how it can affect your drinking experience.

Is Kona Coffee Arabica Beans?

Yes, Kona coffee is from the Arabica species, which gives it a full-bodied, mildly nuanced flavor. It's a premium gourmet Arabica coffee solely grown in the Kona slopes of Hawaii. Additionally, it's a high-quality Arabica variety due to its unique growing conditions.

Arabica beans being weighed

The Kona region's growing environment provides a long maturation period, an essential factor in cultivating Arabica coffee beans. Like other Arabica varieties, Kona beans tend to be more expensive than Robusta due to their longer production timeline.

What Makes Kona Arabica?

Kona coffee is an Arabica variety grown, harvested, and processed in the Kona region. Local coffees may get their names from the area in which they grow from, and in this case, the Kona District.

A majority of the coffee trees grown in Hawaii come from Arabica var. Typica, while a relatively small amount consists of Arabica var. Blue Mountain.

Arabica constitutes around 60%-80% of the coffee production globally, making it among the most in-demand sources of coffee.

There are Kona blends that include some other Arabica beans. However, 100% Kona like Lava Lei's whole beans, provide a wholly Arabica flavor without adding other beans.

The Origin of Kona Coffee

The coffee seedlings were first brought to Hawaii from South America in 1813 and planted as ornamentals on the island of Oahu. When missionary Reverend Samuel Ruggles attempted to commercialize the industry, he used Arabica cuttings from Brazil.

Eventually, farmers discovered that growing conditions on the island's western side, including Kona, were better for coffee. As the industry evolved, farmers continued using the Arabica varietal for the Kona Coffee Belt, the prime coffee-growing area in Hawaii's Kona District.

There are more than 600 farms that cultivate Arabica varieties of Kona coffee in Hawaii. This includes the Bay View Farm, a historic Hawaiian coffee plantation that produces the best Lava Lei 100% Kona coffee beans.

Kona coffee in powder and bean form

Growing Conditions of Arabica Varieties

Kona coffee derives from Arabica cuttings native to Ethiopia, Sudan, and Kenya. Thus, cultivating and processing Kona beans follows the same system as other Arabica varieties. The growing conditions in Hawaii make it possible for Kona beans to grow to maturity and produce rich, savory flavor.

The soil, air, weather, and altitude all contribute to the unique taste and aroma of Kona coffee, despite sharing several attributes as other Arabica beans.

  • Arabica likes humidity, yet it can't tolerate a frosty climate. This is why the weather conditions in Hawaii are perfect for Arabica beans. They grow best in shady areas at high elevations, and the slopes of Hawaiian Kona farms range from 500 to 3,000 feet.
  • Kona's slopes have a balance of sunny mornings, with shade and rain in the afternoon and windy nights. 
  • With the volcanoes facing the setting sun, the coffee farms use the mountains as shelter. This helps provide enough protection from wind, rain, and sunlight to prevent damage to the crops.
  • The optimal temperature for growing Arabica is 64 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Kona District's average temperatures range from 60 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Coffee can grow on various types of soil, yet fertile, volcanic red earth is ideal for Arabica beans like Kona coffee. With the Kona District's mineral-rich soil and organic mass, the island makes an excellent location for Arabica varieties to thrive.
    Coffee beans in a container

Taste of Arabica

Arabica beans like Kona have a smoother, sweeter taste with hints of berries. Each sip gives a highly aromatic taste with a clean, spicy finish. True to its Arabica roots, the Kona tree's fruit grows greens and ripens to crimson red, which signifies that it's ready for harvesting.

After processing and brewing, Kona coffee's Arabica origin provides a strong, full-bodied flavor with sweet, fruity, and nutty notes. In general, Arabica coffee beans have a distinct delicate yet slightly acidic flavor, which you can taste in Kona coffee.

Depending on how you prepare Kona coffee, each brew can balance zesty acidity with a smooth buttery finish.

Related Questions

When Is Hawaii's Coffee Harvest Season?

Farmers in Hawaii can harvest coffee beans all year round since various types of coffee grow across the islands. Although for Kona, the harvest season usually falls from August to December after the rainy season.

How Much Coffee Do Hawaiian Coffee Farms Produce?

On average, Hawaiian coffee farms produce about 1,400 pounds of coffee per acre annually. Collectively, the entire state of Hawaii can make 7 to 9 million pounds of unroasted coffee beans every year.


Historically, Kona comes from Arabica coffee cuttings, making it a variety locally grown in Hawaii. This makes Kona a premium Arabica popular worldwide for its unique flavor. This origin also gives Kona its strong yet sweet taste.