Kona Coffee | Making Sense of the Grades + Buying Guide

A line of 12oz bags of our Kona coffee, plus coffee mugs and coffee merchandise, sitting on the retail shelf of our Downtown Honolulu cafe
If you've ever shopped for Kona coffee in Honolulu 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 in Honolulu.

Read on to find out more about:
  • Different grades of Kona coffee
  • What makes a Kona blend a Kona blend
  • Our pure Kona offerings
  • Our specialty coffee blend offers

last updated: 8/27/2021

Coffee Grades 

We love coffee here in Hawaii. Not only does it play an important role in our local economy, it ties us to our ancestors and family or ohana and makes an ono drink, too. You'll find different coffees offered 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.

Our Kona 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. We then add our own personal touch during the roasting process, focusing on bringing out the inherent fruitiness in a coffee while showcasing its natural sweetness. 

Not all Kona coffee is created equal though, and you'll find different grades of Kona coffee in Honolulu. Grades are used to separate coffee by quality.

Kona coffee varieties 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/fruit.

- Kona Peaberry Coffees - 

You'll also find Kona Peaberry coffees, which are from Type II beans. Type II beans have one whole bean per cherry and are the rarest type of coffee bean. 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 considered by some to be the best of the Kona coffees.

Read more in our blog, "Kona Peaberry Coffee: What Is It?"

Kona Peaberry Coffees Next To Other Grades
Peaberry coffees next to larger grades

- Kona Blends - 

Kona coffee 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% pure Kona coffee.

In 2003, the Hawaii State Truth in Labeling Law was passed. This law requires a Kona blend to contain at least 10% Kona coffee beans 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.

Tip: To ensure you are getting a true Kona blend, always buy from Hawaiian sources.

_____

A Buying Guide for Our Offerings

Still not sure which coffee is right for you? Here's a breakdown of the fresh roasted coffees that we offer. 

- Pure Kona -

KONA ESTATE SELECTION - (view coffee)

Hand-picked from Honolulu Coffee's farm, Kona Estate Selection is a microlot of the best coffee harvested this season. Experience the unique flavors of lilikoi, dark chocolate and raw honey.
 

KONA EXTRA FANCY - (view coffee)

Kona Extra Fancy, grown on the Big Island of Hawaii, is the highest grade of Kona Coffee available. Kona Coffee is sorted by size, using various screen sizes. Kona Extra Fancy is sorted with a screen size of 19, yielding a larger bean. Such beans take longer to develop, allowing them to absorb more nutrients from the tree. This yields a bold, complex, well-rounded cup of coffee.
 

PEABERRY - (view coffee)

“The Rarest Kona Coffee” - intense notes of milk chocolate, sweet spice, raw honey, and roasted hazelnuts. Coffee cherries normally produce two half-oval-shaped beans per cherry. During the Peaberry growing process, the beans naturally fuse into one small, dense, oval-shaped bean. That single coffee bean retains even more nutrients from the cherry that typically has to provide for two seeds. 

- Blends - 

KONA BLEND - (view coffee)

A heavy-bodied coffee with complex notes of sweet ripe fruits, raw honey, milk chocolate and raw almonds. Our Kona Blend contains 25% Estate-Grown Kona Coffee blended with specialty coffees from Central and South America. This coffee is our signature house blend, and the roast profile is a medium roast, also referred to as a peak roast. 
 

LOKAHI - (view coffee)

Meaning “Harmony and balance”, this coffee has flavor notes of balanced, marmalade and milk chocolate. The spirit and essence of Lokahi encompass what we are as a company and what best represents our coffee experience.

MAKAHIKI - (view coffee)

Flavor notes of sweet cocoa, cherry, and brown sugar. The Makahiki season is an ancient Hawaiian festival of the Harvest Season which celebrates the bounty of the land. As in our blend, we pay homage to the season by offering an ever evolving mix of coffees.

- For Dark Roast Lovers - 

LAVA ROAST - (view coffee)

Roasted exclusively for the dark roast lovers. This intense full-bodied coffee has notes of rich dark chocolate, sweet earth and berries. Lava Roast offers complexity not only in flavor but in its tactile form - a very creamy and buttery mouthfeel.

Mahalo, and enjoy!

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