Best Hawaiian Coffee: Your Ultimate Guide to Island Brews

Kona coffee plantation in Hawaii

Hawaiian coffee has gained a reputation for its exceptional quality and distinct flavors. With its volcanic soil, tropical climate, and meticulous cultivation, Hawaii has become renowned as a producer of premium coffee. In this article, we will delve into the world of Hawaiian coffee, exploring its history, varieties, taste profiles, brewing methods, and more. Join us on this flavorful journey as we discover the best Hawaiian coffee has to offer.

Hawaii, often referred to as the “Paradise of the Pacific,” is not only known for its stunning landscapes but also for its exceptional coffee. Hawaiian coffee has captivated coffee enthusiasts worldwide with its unique characteristics and captivating flavors. Let’s explore what makes Hawaiian coffee so special and why it has become a favorite among coffee connoisseurs.

History of Hawaiian Coffee

Hawaiian coffee has a unique and rich history, with roots that go back nearly 200 years. Coffee was first introduced to Hawaii in the 1820s, when seeds from Brazil were brought to the islands.

In 1828, Reverend Samuel Ruggles planted the first coffee seedlings on the Big Island in the Hilo area. Since then, coffee cultivation has become an important part of the Hawaiian culture and economy. Hawaii is now the only state in the United States that produces coffee, making it a special and distinctive part of American culture.

Over the years, various coffee varieties have been cultivated across the Hawaiian islands. However, the most famous of them all is Kona coffee, which has become synonymous with high-quality Hawaiian coffee. It’s grown on the slopes of Mauna Loa, one of the largest volcanoes on the Big Island. These fertile slopes provide an ideal environment for coffee cultivation due to their volcanic soil, mild climate, and abundant rainfall.

In addition to Kona coffee, other popular Hawaiian coffee varieties include Ka’u, Puna, and Hamakua. Each of these varieties has its own unique flavor profile and characteristics that contribute to the diverse landscape of Hawaiian coffee production.

As coffee cultivation expanded throughout the Hawaiian islands, it became an important cultural and economic force. Coffee farms attracted immigrants from all over the world, leading to a rich and diverse workforce that influenced the culture and society of the islands. Today, Hawaiian coffee continues to be celebrated as a representation of the unique landscape, culture, and history of the islands.

So, as you enjoy your next cup of Hawaiian coffee, take a moment to appreciate the rich history, culture, and hard work behind this uniquely American beverage.

Kona Coffee

100% Kona coffee beans in bag

100% Kona Coffee

When it comes to Hawaiian coffee, 100% Kona coffee is one of the most sought-after varieties. This coffee is grown exclusively in the Kona region on the Big Island of Hawaii. The combination of the unique volcanic soil, sunny mornings, and afternoon cloud cover creates an ideal environment for cultivating premium-quality coffee beans. Some highly recommended 100% Kona coffee brands include:

  • Big Island Roasters Peaberry Kona Coffee
  • Hawaiian Lion 24K Gold Roast
  • BeanBox’s Keala 100% Kona Coffee

Each of these brands offers a distinct flavor profile, so you can discover your favorite Kona coffee.

Kona Region

The Kona region, located on the western side of the Big Island, is known for its unique Kona coffee belt. This zone spans along the slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualālai volcanoes, with elevations ranging from 500 to 2,500 feet above sea level. The volcanic soil, combined with the specific climate of the area, contributes to the exclusive taste of Kona coffee.

The Kona coffee belt comprises a 30-mile long strip where Kona coffee grows in small, family-owned farms. Each year, hundreds of farmers cultivate and harvest coffee beans in this region. The labor-intensive harvesting process ensures that only the finest beans are handpicked for Kona coffee production.

Kona Coffee Blends

In addition to 100% Kona coffee, you might come across Kona blend coffee on the market. It’s important to note that Kona blends contain only a small percentage of Kona coffee beans (typically around 10%), mixed with other types of beans from different regions.

While these blends might not offer the same exquisite taste as 100% Kona coffee, they can still provide you with a more affordable alternative to experience a hint of the unique Kona flavor. However, be cautious when purchasing Kona blends, as the quality and percentage of Kona beans can vary significantly between different brands.

In summary, Kona coffee, known for its smooth and rich taste, is a delightful beverage produced exclusively in the Kona region. Opting for 100% Kona coffee ensures that you’re getting the pure, unadulterated experience, while Kona blends offer a taste of Kona at a more affordable price.

Other Notable Hawaiian Coffee Regions

Maui Coffee

When exploring Hawaiian coffee, don’t miss out on Maui coffee. Grown in the slopes of Haleakala volcano, Maui coffee primarily produces Maui Mokka, Maui Red Catuai, and Maui Yellow Caturra varieties. The coffee from this region has a distinct profile, often exhibiting bright acidity, fruity notes, and a rich body.

Kauai Coffee

Kauai coffee has also made a name for itself in the world of Hawaiian coffee. Grown on the oldest Hawaiian island, you’ll find coffee production primarily based in the southwest area. Notable Kauai varieties include Kauai Typica, Blue Mountain, and Bourbon. The coffee from Kauai is characterized by its smooth, mild flavors with hints of nuts and chocolate.

Molokai Coffee

Molokai coffee, grown on Molokai island, is another region worth your attention. The majority of coffee production here happens in the 500-acre plantation known as Coffees of Hawaii. The main variety you’ll find in Molokai is the Molokai Red Catuai. Expect a cup of Molokai coffee to have a medium body, with flavors of dark chocolate and a slightly tangy acidity.

Ka’u Coffee

Just south of Kona, the Ka’u coffee region is making its mark. The volcanic soil and climate create an environment suitable for producing excellent coffee. Ka’u coffee farms focus on growing Typica and Red Caturra varieties. When trying Ka’u coffee, you can expect a balanced profile with wine-like acidity, bright fruity notes, and hints of spice.

Puna Coffee

Puna coffee, grown on the eastern side of the Big Island, offers a unique experience. Produced at lower altitudes than other Big Island coffees, Puna coffee typically has a lighter body with bright acidity and fruity, floral flavors. While exploring this region, be sure to taste a variety of Puna coffees to get a sense of their unique profiles.

Hamakua Coffee

Last but not least, Hamakua coffee is a must-try for coffee enthusiasts exploring Hawaiian coffee. Cultivated on the northeastern slopes of Mauna Kea, Hamakua coffee showcases a volcanic soil influence in its flavors. Expect a combination of nutty and fruity notes with a touch of sweetness, wrapped up in a smooth, medium body.

In your journey through Hawaiian coffee regions, make sure to incorporate these regions and their exceptional coffees into your tasting explorations. Each offers a unique experience that can’t be found elsewhere in the world.

Best Hawaiian Coffee Brands

Hawaiian coffee beans

When it comes to finding the best Hawaiian coffee brands, you’ll want to explore a variety of options. Hawaii is known for its uniquely rich volcanic soil and perfect growing conditions, which contribute to the incredible taste of its coffee beans. Let’s dive into some of the top Hawaiian coffee brands you should try.

Big Island Roasters Peaberry Kona Coffee

Big Island Roasters offers a 100% Kona Peaberry coffee that garnered the second-highest rating in a cupping of Hawaiian coffees for Coffee Review’s May 2019 tasting report. Peaberry is a special type of coffee bean that tends to have a greater density of flavors, sugars, and lipids, making it a unique and delicious choice for your morning brew.

Koa Coffee

Koa Coffee is another well-regarded brand, offering 100% Kona coffee. With its strong yet delectable taste, Koa Coffee is a favorite among coffee enthusiasts.

Hawaii Coffee Brands

Other Hawaiian coffee brands you may want to explore include:

  • Hualālai Estate PREMIUM Kona Whole Bean Coffee
  • Kona Coffee Imagine Beans by Buddha’s Cup, Medium Dark Roast
  • Kauai Coffee Coconut Caramel Crunch Ground

These brands showcase the diverse and delicious flavors of Hawaiian coffee, making them an excellent choice to perk up your day.

Growing Conditions and Unique Characteristics

Hawaiian coffee is known for its exceptional quality, which can largely be attributed to the unique growing conditions and characteristics of the region. One of the main factors contributing to this is the volcanic soil found throughout the islands, particularly on Mauna Loa, a massive volcano that makes up the majority of Hawaii’s Big Island.

This volcanic soil, rich in minerals and nutrients, creates an ideal environment for coffee plants to thrive. Combined with the favorable climate of sunny mornings and cloudy, humid afternoons typically found in Hawaii, coffee plants experience optimal conditions for growth and development. As a result, you’ll find that Hawaiian coffee beans are often characterized by their low acidity, smooth taste, and well-rounded flavors.

The presence of national parks, such as the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, also plays a role in preserving the unique growing conditions by protecting the soil and ecology around the Mauna Loa volcano. This helps to maintain the integrity of the land that sustains the renowned Hawaiian coffee industry.

Various regions within Hawaii produce distinct coffee profiles due to the different microclimates and elevations across the islands. Kona, for example, is famous for its smooth, well-balanced coffee, while neighboring regions like Ka’u, Puna, and Hamakua offer their own unique characteristics and flavor profiles.

So, when you’re enjoying a cup of Hawaiian coffee, remember that the unique growing conditions, volcanic soil, and the island’s geography all play a significant role in creating the distinctive taste and quality you’re experiencing.

Coffee Bean Varieties and Flavors

When exploring Hawaiian coffee, you will come across a variety of beans that offer unique flavors and characteristics. In this section, we will focus on some of the most popular Hawaiian coffee beans, including Kona Peaberry and Maui Mokka.

Kona Peaberry

Kona Peaberry is a rare and highly sought-after coffee bean variety. It is a 100% Kona coffee that has earned the title of the best Kona Peaberry and the second-highest rating in a cupping of Hawaiian coffees in May 2019 for Coffee Review.

  • Flavor Profile: Peaberry beans tend to have a greater density of flavor, sugars, and lipids compared to regular coffee beans. This results in a smooth taste with low acidity and a syrupy mouthfeel. As you drink Kona Peaberry coffee, expect rich, well-rounded flavors that make for an exceptional coffee experience.

Maui Mokka

Another noteworthy Hawaiian coffee variety is Maui Mokka. This coffee bean is grown on Maui and is a descendant of the original Mokka coffee brought to Hawaii from Yemen.

  • Flavor Profile: Bitterness is an essential component of the flavor profile for many coffee beans, and the Maui Mokka is no exception. This coffee variety offers a perfect balance between bitter and sweet notes, resulting in a complex, robust taste. In addition to its delightful bitterness, the Maui Mokka also has a smooth, mild flavor with hints of chocolate and fruit.

When searching for high-quality Hawaiian coffee beans, Kona Peaberry and Maui Mokka should be on your list. Keep in mind that selecting the right coffee beans depends on your personal preference, so make sure to experiment with various flavors and tastes. Happy brewing!

Brewing and Drinking Hawaiian Coffee

When it comes to Hawaiian coffee, it’s crucial to use the right brewing method to bring out the rich flavors and aromas that make it special. Among the best Hawaiian coffees are Big Island Roasters Peaberry Kona Coffee and Maui Coffee Roasters, both of which can be enjoyed through various brewing techniques that highlight their unique characteristics. In this section, we’ll focus on three popular brewing methods for Hawaiian coffee: French press, pour-over, and automatic drip.

French Press

Using a French press is an ideal method for brewing Hawaiian coffee, as it produces a full-bodied and rich flavor. To brew with a French press, follow these steps:

  1. Coarsely grind your Hawaiian coffee beans.
  2. Add the grounds to the French press.
  3. Pour hot water (around 200°F or 93°C) over the grounds.
  4. Stir the mixture to ensure even extraction.
  5. Cover the French press and let the coffee steep for about 4 minutes.
  6. Slowly press the plunger down to separate the grounds from the liquid.
  7. Pour and enjoy the robust flavors of your Hawaiian coffee.


The pour-over method enhances the bright flavors often present in Hawaii-cultivated coffee. Here’s how you can brew a delicious cup of Hawaiian coffee using a pour-over:

  1. Gather a pour-over cone, a coffee filter, and coffee beans.
  2. Grind your Hawaiian coffee beans to a medium-fine consistency.
  3. Place the filter in the cone and add the coffee grounds.
  4. Heat water to approximately 200°F (93°C).
  5. Slowly pour the water over the grounds, using a spiral motion, ensuring all the grounds are saturated.
  6. Wait for the coffee to drip through the filter into your cup.
  7. Savor the smooth taste and round body of your Hawaiian coffee.

Automatic Drip

For those who prefer a hands-off approach, the automatic drip machine is a convenient option when brewing Hawaiian coffee. To ensure a flavorful cup, follow these steps:

  1. Measure your Hawaiian coffee beans, using about 1 tablespoon per 6 ounces of water.
  2. Grind the beans to a medium coarseness.
  3. Fill the coffee machine’s filter with the grounds.
  4. Add cold, filtered water to the machine’s reservoir – using the proper ratio of water to coffee.
  5. Turn on the machine and wait for the brewing process to complete.
  6. Pour yourself a cup of aromatic and flavorful Hawaiian coffee.

Each of these methods offers a distinct experience, so don’t be afraid to experiment and find the best brewing technique that suits your taste. Remember to use 100% Kona or other high-quality Hawaiian coffee for an authentic and enjoyable coffee experience.

Price and Availability

When searching for the best Hawaiian coffee, it’s essential to consider the price and availability of these premium beans. The price of Hawaiian coffee, particularly the renowned Kona coffee, tends to be more expensive due to its high demand and limited production. With many options in the market, here are some top picks to help you choose.

One of the best Kona coffee options to consider is Big Island Roasters Peaberry Kona Coffee, which received the second-highest rating in a cupping of Hawaiian coffees for Coffee Review’s May 2019 tasting report. Kona Peaberry coffee, with a greater density of flavor, sugars, and lipids, typically retails for around $5.79 per ounce, or an estimated $92.67 per pound.

Another notable brand is Koa Coffee, known for its 100% Hawaiian coffees. They offer various excellent options, including the award-winning 100% Kona, praised by Forbes as the best coffee in America. Due to its premium quality, you should expect to pay around $34 per pound for Koa Coffee’s 100% Kona.

For those looking for the best Kona coffee brands, here are some options based on Sip Coffee House’s May 2023 Update:

  • Hawaii Prime: A mid-level Kona option, allowing up to 20% defective beans in the total weight
  • Hawaii No. 3: Similar to Hawaii Prime but allows a slightly higher number of defects

Finally, if you are interested in Ka’u coffee, a newer coffee region that’s gaining attention for winning several taste competitions, Rusty’s Hawaiian 100% Ka’u Peaberry Coffee is a great choice for its chocolate and caramelly notes.

Keep in mind that these premium coffees may have limited availability due to their high demand and the small-scale farming conditions. Moreover, buying directly from the producer or a reputable seller ensures that you receive the freshest and most authentic beans. Stay alert to any deals or discounts from online retailers, as it might make the expensive price tag more manageable.

Overall, invest in the best Hawaiian coffee according to your taste preferences, budget, and inclination towards premium or rare coffee varieties like Kona Peaberry or Ka’u Peaberry coffees.

Hawaiian Coffee as a Gift

When considering gifts for coffee lovers, Hawaiian coffee is an excellent choice. With its unique flavor profiles and rich history, it’s perfect for those who appreciate specialty coffee. Some top Hawaiian coffee brands to look into are Koa Coffee, Kona Coffee Purveyors, and Volcanica Coffee Company.

Koa Coffee offers a variety of high-quality beans, with their Peaberry Kona Coffee being a standout option due to its greater density of flavor, sugars, and lipids. Kona Coffee Purveyors also provide authentic Kona coffee, which is grown on the slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano in the Kona district of Hawaii’s Big Island.

For those who use single-serve coffee machines, K-Cup options are also available in Hawaiian coffee flavors, such as vanilla macadamia and toasted coconut. These K-Cup options make it easy for recipients to enjoy a delicious Hawaiian coffee experience at home without the need for a traditional coffee maker.

When selecting your Hawaiian coffee gift, consider these options:

  • Coffee from Kauai Coffee Company, which offers 100% Hawaiian coffee with flavors like Coconut Caramel Crunch and Vanilla Macadamia Nut.
  • Curating a gift set with a variety of bags from Big Island Coffee Roasters, which includes their award-winning Kona Coffee Collection and Medium Hawaiian Coffee Collection.

Another intriguing choice is the Hawaiian Lion coffee, produced by the Volcanica Coffee Company. This rare and exotic blend combines beans from Africa with Hawaiian Kona coffee, creating a unique and flavorful experience that’s perfect for special occasions or to expand a coffee lover’s palette.

Remember to choose coffees that showcase the distinct qualities of Hawaii’s various growing regions, such as Kau, Puna, Kona, and Maui. These diverse flavors and processing methods ensure your gift will be both memorable and enjoyable.

Hawaiian coffee embodies the rich flavors and captivating essence of the Pacific islands. From the world-famous Kona coffee to the hidden gems of Maui, Molokai, and Ka’u, Hawaiian coffee offers a diverse range of taste profiles that can satisfy even the most discerning coffee lovers. Explore the world of Hawaiian coffee, savor its unique flavors, and embark on a flavorful journey that will transport you to the sun-kissed shores of Hawaii.

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