How To Buy Kona Coffee According To Grade And Roast?


If you've ever shopped for Kona coffee online you've probably noticed that there's a lot to choose from. Even the most discerning coffee lovers can become confused when faced with so many choices. We're here to help you make sense of the labels so you can pick the best kona coffee online.

Does Your Kona Coffee Make The Grade? 

We love coffee here in Hawaii. Not only does it play an important role in our local economy, it ties us to our ohana and makes an ono drink, too. You'll find different offers of kona coffee direct on all the different islands and believe it or not, they all do have their own unique taste. This is due to the unique growing conditions each island and each location on the island offers. Coffee, for example, is grown on the slopes of Mauna Loa where the plants receive plentiful rainfall and moderate temperatures, giving them their unique flavor. 

Not all Kona coffee is created equal though, and you'll find different grades of Kona coffee. 

Grades are used to separate coffee by quality. 

Common Kona varieties online include:

  • Extra Fancy (highest grade) 
  • Fancy (high grade) 
  • Kona #1 (mid-grade commonly used in restaurants) 
  • Prime (lowest grade, but still better than most other coffees!) 

These are all considered Type I Coffees. That means they came from berries that had two half beans per coffee cherry.

What Are Kona Peaberry Coffees Type II?  

You'll also find Kona Peaberry coffees online, which are from Type II beans. 

 Type II Coffees have one whole bean per cherry and are the rarest type of coffee. Peaberry Prime is the lowest Type II grade. Peaberry #1 is the highest of the Type II grades. Peaberry coffees are smooth and rich with a robust flavor. They are the best of the Kona coffees.

What Are Kona Blended Coffees? 

Kona is a delicious treat that can be pricey. It's for that reason that growers and roasters started creating Kona blends. These coffees contain some Kona coffee but are blended with coffees from elsewhere (Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian) to create a coffee that retains the clean and well-balanced taste of Kona coffee, but does not cost as much as 100% Kona coffee.

What Laws Govern 100% Pure Kona Labeling?


In 2003, the Hawaii State Truth in Labeling Law was passed. This law requires a Kona blend to contain at least 10% kona coffee brands in order to bear the label Hawaiian Kona Blend if sold in Hawaii. Unfortunately, this law does not extend beyond the state where many companies sell "Kona blends" even though they contain a very trace amount of Kona beans. To ensure you are getting a true Kona blend, always buy from Hawaiian sources.

Coffee Roasts And How To Tell Them Apart?

What are the different roasts?

   American – lightest, Medium – with about 20% more caffeine and French – Dark roast.

How is caffeine content different in different roasts?

   The longer and hotter the roasting process, slightly more caffeine is driven off in the roasting process. Contrary to what may seem logical the darker, stronger tasting roasts have less caffeine than the lighter roasts.

What is Peaberry coffee?

   Typically, each coffee cherry has a pair of flat-sided coffee beans inside. In perhaps 3 or 5% of cherry there is a single more “pea” shaped bean … referred to as Peaberry. It is not easy to tell if a cherry has two beans or one Peaberry bean. Most trees produce both. You might describe it as an accident of nature. It is believed that Peaberry is more flavorful and may have more caffeine. Considering its rarity, it almost always commands a higher price.

What roast or type of coffee is best?

   The only “best” is what you like best! Like wine, one can argue all day long which is best … the reality is if you like the flavor best … it is the best roast for you!

What is the best way to brew coffee?

   The same answer as the best roast. Whatever machine and style that produces the coffee that you find most pleasing to drink. Many people find that they prefer a different roast or brewing method for breakfast coffee than they do for their last cup of the day.

What is Black & Tan roast?

   This is a mix of French (dark) roast and American (light) roast. Some coffee aficionados prefer the blend of the taste and aroma nuances of the two roasts combined. Allows you to have a lot of flavor and a lot of caffeine in the same cup!

What do you do with lower quality Kona Coffee?

   Lesser grades are sold wholesale under trade names … Some are sold to companies that produce 10% Kona blends. The lowest grades are used in body scrubs and other body products.

How long can you keep roasted coffee?

   Roasted coffee that is sealed in the original vacuum sealed bag should be used within a year. After the bag is opened, depending how it is stored, we suggest using it within a month if it is ground or within six months if it is whole bean.

How should I store roasted Kona coffee?

   We recommend a ceramic or glass container with an airtight seal that is kept in a dark cabinet where the temperature is relatively constant. Coffee should NOT be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. The dry coffee beans will pick up moisture and odors from other foodstuffs, which will impact the taste. 

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