Similar to champagne, Kona coffee comes from Kona, a specific region on the big island of Hawaii. Other islands grow coffee, but no other coffee can be call Kona, with exception of a KONA blend.
What’s The Big Deal
This coffee is a big deal. It is a unique type of tree that comes from a very unique growing region, the mountains of an island in the middle of the Pacific ocean. It’s a big deal that we even have it. Kona is a relatively small growing region located on the western slopes of the Hualalai and Mauna Loa volcanoes on the big island. Combine the unique tree variety with unique (and expensive) growing region, you have something that equals a big deal.
Unique tree stock, the Kona variety, produces coffee beans with a relativity low acidity. Where as most coffee beans clock in around 4 on the pH scale, (with 7 being neutral), it comes in around 6. Many people can enjoy a cup, even if they are sensitive to acidity. Granted, it has to be freshly roasted.
It is considered a premium coffee due to the high cost of land and labor. The name alone has cache. Marketers use the word KONA to grab attention and associated assumption of quality. You can find Kona BLENDS with as few as one actual bean of Kona coffee. The unaware customer is basically paying for four printed letters, not Kona coffee. The coffee growers tried to pass legislation similar to the Champagne region in France, protecting the name from being watered down by bad blends. In Hawaii, the bags must label the percentage of Kona in the blend. It is only a state law, not federal.
How Crazy is Certified Organic Kona?
We are crazy to think there is a market for certified organic Kona, when it is already at a premium price. But, so are the Bong Brothers. They are USDA Certified Organic coffee producers, and they ship to us directly. Long term sustainability of the land is important to them. It is kept in parchment, to help protect the coffee bean after it is harvested. Then it’s dry milled just before putting it in the mail for us. We receive a 20# box every two weeks directly from the coffee farm. They confess that it is still a gamble. With the expectation of such a high quality product, they have had to triple-hand pick just to make sure the quality is consistent.
Not Easy Street
One would think growing Kona coffee would be a like a stroll down easy street. Not so, here is a typical message from Douglas:
“We are finished picking, wrapped it up mid December. Earliest finish that I can remember. We usually pick in January often February, so pretty unusual weather patterns. No appreciable rain this year so far. Production was about the same as last year, bean size a bit smaller perhaps because of early onset of dry season. We are in another drought, actually never really got out.
Makes it difficult to know when to throw fertilizer and to control pest outbreaks [banana moth larvae attacking the new shoots], but great for weed control. I think in general, we are getting a lot better controlling the borer beetle, predicting when they are out and vulnerable to the bassiana fungus. All in all I’m expecting a good season coming up and feeling good about this current crop in the cup.” – Douglas Bong
We are committed to supporting the only coffee commercially grown in the USA. Plus, we are committed to supporting the Bong brothers, who are going the extra mile to grown organically. Our inventory ebbs and flows based on production and yield, but as long as we can get Bong coffee, we will sell it.