Why Is Kona Coffee Different?

Some internationally-known products have a reputation for being cream of the crop, and among them is the Kona coffee. However, why is Kona coffee different? To understand what makes Kona coffee unique, we're going to share the production process, taste, and other aspects that set it apart from others.

Why Is Kona Coffee Different?

Kona coffee is different from other beans because of its location, growing conditions, and consistency in processing. It offers a different taste due to Kona's high elevation, rich volcanic soil, and microclimate that provides natural irrigation.

Kona coffee is a unique product from Hawaii. To truly appreciate 100% Kona coffee, learn about the island's growing environment that produces this delectable, rare, and high-grade Hawaiian coffee.

Person pouring brewed coffee into a mug

What Makes Kona Coffee Unique?

Kona coffee remains a global phenomenon, given its iconic taste and unique characters. In Mark Twain's Letters from Hawaii, he wrote, "I think the Kona coffee has a richer flavor than any other, be it grown where it may and call it by what name you please".

Volcanic Slopes

Coffee trees grow in over 50 countries around the world, yet Hawaii is the only state in the United States that grows coffee. The Kona Coffee Belt houses Kona coffee farms, including Lava Lei's Bay View Farm Estate.

The belt is approximately 30 miles long and 1 mile wide, found on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa volcanoes. The western slopes provide a plantation elevation ranging from 500 to 3,000 feet.

The volcanic soil contains a concentration of nutrients and minerals, including calcium, potassium, phosphates, and nitrates. All of these are necessary to keep Kona coffee trees healthy.


Altitude and latitude impact climate, an essential factor in growing Kona coffee beans. The island's cycle of bright sunny mornings, shaded rainy afternoons, and mild nights create the ideal growing climate for Kona coffee trees to mature.Man pouring coffee beans in a grinder

  • The island's cloud-covered skies provide a natural shade for the farms to protect the trees from harsh, direct sunlight. This prevents leaf browning while ensuring the beans would flourish.
  • Kona coffee trees bloom after the island's dry winters and get harvested in autumn.
  • Unlike other locations, the lower altitudes in Hawaii help the growing process minimize the tendency to develop acids. This is why Hawaiian coffees like Kona are often sweet than bitter.
  • The Kona Coffee belt rests between 8 and 9 degrees north of the equator. This position entails a mild tropical climate. In effect, the region gets just the right about of rain, while the slopes ensure well-drained soil.


The farmers and small business owners take pride in their involvement from farming, packaging, to marketing. Each pack of 100% Kona coffee lets you experience the flavor and quality preserved by history.

  • Another factor that makes Kona coffee different is its extensive labor and production processes. While this may make 100% Kona a bit more expensive than other varieties, you can guarantee quality from planting, harvesting, drying, milling, to packaging.
  • Despite coffee being the number 2 crop in Hawaii, only about 1,500 farmers tend to more than 10,000 acres of coffee farms. This makes it more challenging for generations of Kona farmers to care for the land and beans.
  • All Kona tree cherries don't ripen at the same time. The high slopes of the Kona mountains require farmers to handpick the beans. This ensures the sharp eye of farmers only picks the ripe, green ones.
  • Manual labor also prevents machines from stripping away the flesh and pulp, leaving the beans behind.
  • Farmers would ferment the beans for 24 to 72 hours before washing them in fresh water.
  • One of the things that make Kona coffee different is that it also undergoes sun drying. The duration depends on the desired result in moisture.
  • Kona coffee has a sweet and fruity taste profile. During the roasting process, the beans would pick up the sweetness and fruity notes, then advance to having a full body. However light roasts, medium roasts, and dark roasts would have varying tastes.Cup of coffee on top of coffee beans

Related Questions

Is Kona Coffee High in Caffeine?

Kona coffee contains almost the same amount of caffeine as other Arabica varieties. However, the longer the roasting process, the lesser the caffeine content. This is why dark roast Lava Lei 100% Kona is a good option to minimize caffeine intake.

How Will I Know if Kona Coffee Is Authentic?

Hawaii's labeling laws require roasters to label 100% Kona coffee on the packaging. Aside from that, check if the source of the beans and production is from Kona Hawaii Big Island.


Kona coffee is different from other coffees because its location, growing conditions, and roasting offer a light, sweet and fruity brew. The island's elevated slopes, fertile volcanic soil, and mild tropical climate allow Lava Lei's 100% Kona coffee to provide an authentic taste of this historical Hawaiian coffee.