[Updated 8/3/2021] Aloha fellow coffee lover! If you're one of those people who loves trying new exotic coffee flavors, then you may have heard about Hawaiian coffee at some point. Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. that grows and exports coffee. As the lone coffee-producing state, it's known for producing some of the finest and rarest coffee in the world. So why are Hawaiian coffee beans so special and are they really worth buying? These are the questions we will answer in this article.
Why is it Hawaiian coffee special?
The flavor of a coffee bean is largely determined by climate. Hawaii offers a unique environment for coffee beans to grow in. It's tropical weather is ideal and its high elevation yields a very rare flavor profile in the coffee beans that grow there. The end result is typically a bright, crisp, and distinctly clean flavor that coffee lovers around the world would die for. Hawaiian coffee is also known to be very smooth and robustly flavored.
Hawaii is full of volcanoes which means the island has an abundance of volcanic soil. Volcanic soil is especially rich in minerals and nutrients that allow coffee plants to flourish.
The largest growing district in Hawaii is the Kona region which is where the famous Kona coffee is produced. When buying Kona coffee, it's best to avoid blends which can contain as little as 10% Kona. In these cases the remaining 90% is often filled with low quality beans. In other words, you probably won't even taste the Kona coffee if you go with blends. Instead look for coffee that's made from 100% Kona which should cost more than $20/lb. Anything below that price is a red flag that it's not 100% Kona.
In the end, beware of the blend!
Other popular coffee-growing regions are found in Ka’u district and the Hawaiian island of Maui. While there are many different types of Hawaiian coffee, none are as famous as coffee produced in the Kona district (Kona coffee). Hawaiian Coffee also has a standardized set of metrics to gauge quality. They are as follows: Hawaii Coffee Grades
- Extra fancy (the highest quality)
- No. 3
- Natural Prime
- Mixed Natural Prime (The lowest quality)
We've seen our fair share of quality Kona coffees. However, there are certain brands and brews that stand head and shoulders above the rest in our opinion. Below we recommend the top 5 Hawaiian and Kona coffees on the market. The top 4 beans all source only Grade 1 Extra Fancy Kona beans. As an added bonus for our coffee pod lovers, we also include our top picks for the best Kona K Cups and Coffee Pods currently on the market.
Top 5 Best Hawaiian Coffee: (No Blends )
Starting of this list is none other than the Hawaiian Coffee company. They are actually made up of a number of sister companies that sell some of the most authentic Kona and Hawaiian coffee on the market. We've tried their Kona products and can recommend the company without hesitation. Their estate medium roast delivers the full and true Kona experience. Using 100% true Kona beans, this brew offers a superbly clean flavor while being attractively priced.
Out of the Grey Coffee offers an impeccable 100% organic single origin medium dark roast with a wide arrange of complex yet well-balanced flavors. Look for fruit-toned notes of strawberry and watermelon highlighted by dark chocolate. This is a rich coffee with a uniquely vibrant acidity and dry finish. Out of the Grey Coffee consistently finds themselves on our best coffee lists because of their commitment to an unbelievably high standard of coffee. It's no surprise to us that they've made the list of best Hawaiian coffees as well.
Volcanica Coffee has slowly but surely earned its place as a household name among elite coffee lovers. Their Hawaiian coffee uses the top grade of Hawaiian beans (Extra Fancy) so you can be assured you're getting the cream of the coffee crop. This medium roasted, shade grown coffee offers a very rare balance of low acidity and robust flavor which in my opinion, is one of the coveted sweet spots on the flavor profile spectrum. This coffee isn't cheap coffee nor should it be. This is ideal for the coffee drinker who care about quality and is willing to pay the premium for it.
This is a great choice for anyone looking to try different award-winning varieties of authentic Kona. When you consider the price of top-rated Kona, this Tripack is an incredible value. Koa Coffee is yet another well-established brand that has a very highest of standards to uphold. This Kona coffee tri pack includes 3 x 1lb bags coffees
- Grande Domaine Kona Coffee, a Kona Coffee Cupping Contest Winner for outstanding quality and balance.
- Award-winning Private Reserve Kona Coffee, the Kona Coffee that Forbes called “Best in America”
- Estate Kona, from a high elevation, single estate farm; a classic taste of Aloha
Carta Coffee hasn't been around as long as some of these other 100% Kona brands, but they produce a quality Kona coffee that's just as impressive. Their Meridian roast is light roasted to perfection allowing all of the bean's subtle nuances and flavors to express themselves. It's slightly sweeter than other Kona coffee's I've tried which is by no means a bad thing. If you're palette leans to the sweeter side, this would be a good option for you. The brew also has a very creamy texture. Loaded with a variety of natural flavors, Carta Coffee's brew really gives you a sense of what a well-balanced Kona should taste like. If you'd like more details, check out our full Carta Coffee review.
Fresh Roasted Coffee is a company with a sterling reputation and has been around for over a decade. Their 100% Kona coffee pods are organic, single origin, direct trade, and medium roasted to perfection. With tasting notes of spiced cinnamon and sweet honeyed toast, these Kona coffee pods deliver an authentic Kona experience in the convenience of a coffee pod deliver form. It's mild body is complemented by a deliciously refined and uniquely sweet flavor. This organic Kona K Cup compatible coffee pod serves as a great introduction for anyone looking to sample the world of Hawaiian coffee.
Sourced from Hala Tree Farm in Southern District of Kona.
For some reason, finding 100% Kona coffee in K-Cup or coffee pod form can be a challenge. Fortunately, Blue Horse offers a superb 100% Kona K Cup that gives you the true Kona experience but with added convenience. With their pesticide-free, sun dried, rain-water washed coffee, you rest assured that you're getting nothing but the good stuff. These 100% Kona K Cups are also Keurig 2.0 compatible.
Even though Hawaii produces about .04% of all the coffee in the world, what it does produce it does exceptionally. Hawaiian Coffee is easily one of the most sought-after and exotic coffees in the world. Hopefully this article has given you an idea of what to look for and what to expect when shopping top Hawaiian coffee brands. Cheers!