As you're choosing your next coffee beans, you may be seeing Kona blends on the market. This leads us to the question, why is Kona coffee only 10%? We're setting the record straight on why you're seeing some 10% Kona beans and what it means for your brewing experience.
Why Is Kona Coffee Only 10%?
Kona coffee labeled 10% means it's combining 10% Kona coffee beans with 90% of other roasts or varieties. This ratio stems from the need to mass-produce and reach more consumers. It's possible that the beans are not truly from Hawaii since it's mandated that 100% Kona come from the island.
Kona coffee offers an unmistakable rich flavor profile, giving a distinct coffee experience that's only found in Hawaii. However, you may still see labeled 10% Kona, and its taste is nowhere close to what 100% Kona coffee can provide.
What Does It Mean If You Buy 10% Kona?
The Kona belt's microclimate, volcanic soil, and elevation provide much-needed nutrients and minerals for the Kona beans to thrive. When you choose 10% Kona, you're not getting the exceptional flavor profile unique to the Hawaiian single-origin coffee.
- Basically, 10% Kona isn't pure Kona coffee because its content ratio is significantly lower than the rest.
- 10% Kona is not a blend of various Kona beans. Rather, it's a combination of 10% Kona beans and 90% other coffee varieties.
- Depending on the manufacturer, 10% Kona may include Arabica and Robusta varietals. Some companies may use below-grade beans and sell them as quality-grade Kona.
Why Is There 10% Kona Coffee?
Some consumers don't want to pay a premium for coffee. In an attempt to bring the Kona coffee lore to mass consumers, some companies made it more accessible by adding 90% of coffee beans grown from farms outside Hawaii.
Moreover, labor is the highest cost of growing coffee in Hawaii. By introducing 10% Kona, manufacturers can cut down on production costs.
However, there may be manufacturers that would set a high price tag just because they put the label Kona in the packaging. The downside is that you may still pay an expensive price without getting any Kona taste in your cup.
What's the Issue With 10% Kona?
Hawaii state law requires blenders to put the percentage of beans coming from the Kona belt on their packaging. However, they should also refrain from using the Kona label if it does not meet the minimum threshold of 10%.
The problem is that federal legislation doesn't apply this to Kona coffee sold outside Hawaii. Over the years, local farms rallied to get Hawaii to change the law to get the minimum content in Kona blend at 51%. So far, all bills have died in legislative committees.
The Kona Coffee Farmers Association isn't against blending. It believes coffee blending is part of a roaster's art to produce more flavors. The KCFA only objects to the deceptive labeling of 10% Kona masking as a single origin blend.
What Are the Disadvantages of 10% Kona Coffee?
When you buy 10% Kona, you won't fully experience the special flavors of Kona coffee. This compromise means you're also sacrificing the quality. Aside from that, this coffee ratio may affect the livelihood of farmers and the industry's reputation.
- You would hardly get the Kona characteristics and the distinct flavor in each cup since the other varietals may overpower the Kona beans.
- Blenders may sell 10% Kona way cheaper than 100% Kona, hurting farmers and livelihoods. Farmers handpick Kona beans due to the mountain slopes. If you buy 10% Kona, the rest of the beans may come from mass production and mechanical labor.
- Distributors may cheapen the historical Kona coffee name by blending it with imported coffee of lesser quality. This can strip away the reputation of Kona coffee for its sweet and nutty brew.
- By law, imported coffee beans should undergo fumigation using methyl bromide, a highly toxic pesticide. Hence, 10% of Kona coffee packages may have beans doused with chemicals.
What Kona Coffee Roast Should I Buy?
The type of roast to buy may depend on how strong you want to taste Kona coffee. Select Lava Lei light roast if you want a smooth and crisp flavor profile. Opt for a medium roast for a caramelly sweet and nutty taste or a dark roast for a woody-fruity flavor.
Is Kona Coffee Low in Acid?
Kona coffee is generally low in acid because of its roasting process. As with other types of coffee, the difference between light, medium, and dark roast coffee would influence the acidity. Dark roast Kona beans are usually bolder yet the least acidic.
A 10% Kona coffee means it's a mixture of some Kona beans with other coffee. If you're trying to buy Kona coffee from Hawaii, go for a single origin to truly experience authenticity. While Lava Lei has Kona blends, we also offer 100% Kona beans in light, medium, and dark roasts.