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Kona Coffee: The Drink of Heaven

Updated on April 12, 2011
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Keith Schroeder writes The Wealthy Accountant blog with 30 years experience in the tax field. He is the tax adviser of Mr. Money Mustache.

Kona coffee is the greatest pleasure a coffee lover can experience. The rich flavor and pleasant aroma entice. No other coffee in the world can match the smooth flavor of Kona coffee.

Kona coffee is grown in an area less than 2,300 acres in size. The whole Kona coffee belt is two miles by 15 miles. Coffee of this high quality and limited production makes it one of the most expensive in the world. A pound of Kona run $30 and up.

It is worth the price. Once you drink Kona you will never think of coffee the same again. This is why I call it the drink of heaven.

In this article I will show you how you can be certain you have 100% Kona coffee, history of this remarkable bean, production, and the scare of the 1990s.

100% Kona Coffee and Kona Blends

Due to the high cost of Kona, some retailers blend Kona with other lower quality coffees. As much as 90% of the blend can be a low grade coffee bean with only 10% Kona. This is a waste of a drink that should be called manna.

In Hawaii, the blend must be disclosed on the package. No similar law exists outside Hawaii. You want pure Kona. Kona roasted and packaged on the farm in Hawaii with a “100% Kona Coffee” label is your assurance you have a real piece of heaven. This is the most important point in this article. “100% Kona Coffee” and packaged in Hawaii where packaging laws require this prominent disclosure.

History

Kona coffee is grown on the slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualalai in the Kona Districts of the Big Island of Hawaii. The rich soil and prime weather pattern provides the perfect growing environment for coffee.

Coffee was brought to Kona in 1828. The crop was inconsequential until later in the 19th Century. The coffee crash of 1899 forced plantations to fragment into smaller farms of 5 – 12 acres. The smaller farms focused on producing supreme quality coffee.

Coffee Production

Kona coffee is picked between August and January with each tree producing about 25 pounds of cherry. The cherry is put into a pulper until the beans separate from the pulp. The beans are placed in a fermentation tank for 12 – 24 hours. The beans are then dried for up to 14 days, until the moisture content is between 9.5% and 12.5%, as required by Hawaiian regulations.

The beans are then classified. Several levels of quality are graded for each type of bean: Type I (a two bean cherry) and Type II (a single bean cherry). There is also a Number 3 grade bean which is illegal to call Kona.

The Scare of the 1990s

Kona coffee trees suffered from root disease in the 1990s. The nematode stunted the coffee trees. A natural solution to resistance was found in 2001, preserving this drink of heaven for the foreseeable future.

Final Note

Kona coffee is great for special events, holidays, and romantic moments. It is also the perfect drink for a quiet moment alone, reflecting on a life well-lived.

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