Kona Coffee vs Ethiopian

Several countries produce coffee, offering unique flavor profiles that suit different taste preferences. For this article, we're focusing on two of the most in-demand coffee types in the global coffee market. Learn the characteristics, differences, and similarities of Kona coffee vs Ethiopian. 

Kona Coffee vs Ethiopian: General Overview

If you're looking to taste the wonderful coffee flavors of the world, Kona and Ethiopian coffees are some of the best beans. Learning about them is a great way to open your taste palate to the international coffee trade.

Ethiopian coffee beans with cups and traditional pot

Overview of Kona Coffee

Kona coffee comes from Hawaii, with the landscape and growing conditions providing the satisfying light and fruity taste. The beans grow from the Kona Coffee Belt, which has a labor-extensive process from handpicking to milling. It has a medium body with buttery smoothness and an aromatic finish.

Overview of Ethiopian Coffee

Ethiopia is the fifth-largest coffee producer internationally. Over the years, the country has mastered the art of harvesting and processing coffee beans. Sidamo, Yirgacheffe, and Harrar are the three central regions that produce single-origin Ethiopian coffee. Overall, Ethiopian coffee is popular for its complexity of pungent, winey quality with acidity.

Comparing Kona Coffee and Ethiopian Coffee

There are different types of coffee beans, offering different flavors based on the variety, location, and processes.


Ethiopian and Kona coffees share some traits, especially in the variety and growing conditions. With these similarities, you can see why Kona and Ethiopian are among the best coffees in the world.

  • Variety: Both Kona and Ethiopian coffees originate from the Arabica plant. Arabica beans dominate about 75% of the global coffee production market. Geographically, Ethiopia is the home of Arabica coffee, a varietal that has more flavor and nuances with less bitterness.
  • Growing conditions: Ethiopia plants the coffee beans on plateaus, whereas Kona coffee grows from volcanic slopes. These elevated locations' ample rainfall, fertile soil, and optimum temperatures make it ideal for growing coffee. Due to the altitude, Kona and Ethiopian coffee grow slower, allowing more nutrients to enter the beans.

Cups of Ethiopian coffee and Kona coffeeDifferences

On average, Americans drink two cups of coffee per day. More people are discovering the wonders of single-origin coffees. Thus, it's essential that you can differentiate them, so you'll know the right time to prepare them.

Growing Region

Kona coffee grows in Hawaii, a state in the Western United States. On the other hand, Ethiopian coffee hails from the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, a country in Africa. Ethiopia is the biggest coffee producer in Africa, producing 584,790 tons of coffee in 2020 alone. 

Flavor Profile

Ethiopian coffee generally has a rich, winey taste with a floral and fruity aftertaste. Meanwhile, Kona coffee has a mellow, sweet, and fruity flavor with spicy and nutty notes.

The Ethiopian Harrar variety is the most intense, leaving a chocolate aftertaste with spicy cinnamon and cardamom hints. Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and Sidamo coffees have a more balanced flavor profile with a fruity aftertaste from berries and lemon. Regardless of the region, the natural sweetness is prominent in Ethiopian coffees.


Arabica beans grown at higher elevations produce citric acid. Ethiopian coffee is generally mildly acidic. On the other hand, Kona coffee, especially dark roast 100% Kona coffee, compared to light roast coffee, has low acidity since it gets roasted longer.


Kona coffee typically uses the natural process from curing to roasting. Hawaii coffee farms like the Bay View Farm Estate follow an all-natural farming process to ensure a full-bodied brew with a pleasing aroma. The beans have longer interactions with the cherry's natural sugars during the natural drying process, providing a richer flavor.Coffee dripping from a machine

Depending on the region, Ethiopian coffee may undergo either a natural or wet process. While washing the beans can help produce vibrant notes, this may require lots of water and machinery. In some cases, this may cause Ethiopian coffee to be too expensive.

Major Distinguishing Factor

Kona coffee has a delicate, sweet taste with nutty and fruity notes. On the other hand, Ethiopian coffee has complex, pungent, and winey flavors with a distinctly fruity and floral aftertaste.

When to Use Kona Coffee

Prepare Kona coffee if you prefer a smooth, sweet, and more balanced taste. Kona coffee is ideal if you want to avoid too acidic coffee or have complex flavors.

When to Use Ethiopian Coffee

Try Ethiopian coffee if you love a wilder, earthier flavor. This is an excellent option to explore more unusual or more robust flavors.

Which Coffee Is Better?

The answer to which coffee is better depends on your taste preferences. For instance, Kona coffee is better than Ethiopian if you want a smooth, sweet cup with a buttery and spicy taste. Meanwhile, Ethiopian would be better than Kona if you want to experience bright, earthy coffee with mild acidity.


Kona and Ethiopian coffee are just some of the flavorful coffees in the market. If the malty and winey taste of Ethiopian coffee sounds too strong for you, you can start your coffee journey with Lava Lei 100% pure Kona coffee.