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What Does Kona Coffee Taste Like?

What Does Kona Coffee Taste Like?

With more than 25 years of farming Kona coffee under our belt, I guess you could say we know a thing or two about what real, 100% Kona coffee tastes like. We take our seed to cup operation very seriously, in fact we maintain meticulous control of more than 150 acres of our little coffee seeds from the moment they are planted into the ground to the very second we hand it off to you. (And yes, coffee is the roasted seed of a fruiting shrub!)


100% Kona coffee, defined as coffee grown in the Kona region on the west side of Hawaii Island, mostly comes from a varietal called Kona Typica. Generally, Kona coffee is known to be smooth, balanced and slightly nutty. Kona coffee generally has a syrupy, medium body and tasting notes like caramel, honey and milk chocolate. Many try this sweet and approachable coffee and they want to drink it every day. 


Let's focus on the roasting process and give you a glimpse into what is often a mysterious and heavily guarded trade, shrouded in secrecy. 

This is an old coffee roasting machine ad from 1912. Can you see the similarities with our modernized roaster below? In more than 100 years of coffee roasting history, the best coffee roasting machines have remained largely unchanged since their inception. They appear almost like an industrial homage to yesteryear. Roasting begins when the solid, green coffee beans are poured into a red-hot cast iron or steel rotating drum of the coffee roaster. You may have seen (or smelled) our roasting machine located in the back of our Kona Coffee & Tea Café in Hawaii. 

Below the rotating drum are high powered flames that heat the drum, with the bouncing coffee inside, up to 400 degrees and higher. It’s the roastmaster’s job to carefully manipulate the flame and airflow at certain exact times in the roast to slow or speed up the development of the coffee. This brings out the subtle, delicious nuances that make one roast different from another. Then, when the time is right, the roaster dumps the coffee out into the circular cooling tray below where it is cooled down to room temperature, thus ending the roasting process. It takes a skilled and experienced roaster to master these tricks, and even more-so to maintain consistency over time. Their knowledge is then handed down to the few worthy individuals, in secretive, gold-plated tablets in a long-forgotten language (untrue).

Davey is our Roaster at Kona Coffee & Tea and a big part of the Production team. Although anyone may technically be able to learn to roast coffee, not everyone has the passion and dedication needed to develop the skills and instincts to be great. In addition, Kona coffee is a unique coffee to roast, in itself. As a coffee growing region, Kona is like none other on the planet. Two massive volcanos, Mount Hualalai in the north and Mauna Loa to the south, make up the Kona coffee growing region. It is on these sacred slopes, at a specific elevation, that the coffee grows. The region is only about 30 miles long and about 2 to 3 miles wide and is made up of rich, volcanic soil that is naturally high in minerals needed to grow coffee. Perhaps it is this reason that the coffee grown on the steep slopes of Kona is one of the most sought after coffees on Earth.


Generally, lighter roasts offer more fruit flavors and complexity, while the darker roasts bring in more richness and depth. It is traditionally said that Kona coffee is best suited to a medium roast. We sell more medium roasted 100% Kona coffee than any other offering.

Even with our farm, milling, and roasting remaining consistent, annual changes in weather and other growing conditions subtly change the flavors found in the final cup. Each year's coffee is excitingly different because every drop of rain and every minute of sunlight has an effect on the final outcome. Our customers enjoy coming back each season to try our freshly harvested crop. We hope you can taste the hard work that we’ve put into the 100% Kona coffee we sell and we welcome to you to try all three roast levels at our cafe, or in your home.

"Each year's coffee is excitingly different because every drop of rain and every minute of sunlight has an effect on the final outcome. Our customers enjoy coming back each season to try our freshly harvested crop."

With more than 150 acres of planted coffee trees, we oversee our sustainable and regenerative agroforestry farming practices, our very own milling operations (where the coffee is processed), our roasting operations (the cooking or browning of the “bean”), our packaging and distribution center, and of course, our flagship Kona Coffee & Tea Café in downtown Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, where our hand-selected baristas are among the top award winning baristas on the islands…the final front line to your Single Estate - 100% Kona Coffee drinking experience. 

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100% Kona Coffee - Sharing Aloha - From our Farm to your Cup