Have you ever tried coffee from the Kona Coast of Hawaii? If so, then you may have a glimpse of understanding why it enjoys the reverence it has among the coffee community. If you haven’t, then you have been missing out on some of the best coffee flavors in the world.
Kona District is one of Hawaii’s largest islands. It has extremely favorable weather, the right soils, temperatures, and the ideal amount of sunshine and rain needed to grow the best quality coffee berries in the world. Being among the best coffee brands, there are lots of fake blends circulating in the market.
Not knowing the real brands or how to choose the right blends is a sure way to get scammed all the time. In this piece, we present you with a comprehensive review of the best Kona coffee: real Hawaiian coffee brands. We have also included a detailed buyer’s guide so that you know the specifics you need to concentrate on when choosing the best Kona coffee.
How Was This List Made?
Coming up with this list was not the easiest thing we have done. We tasted hundreds of blends from various Kona coffee brands. Our team spent tens of hours reading through the leading coffee blogs and following discussions in several forums.
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Also, we talked with some of the leading baristas from around the world to gain better insights into what the real Kona Coffee brands are. Additionally, we read through hundreds of reviews from past buyers of some of the leading brands.
In this manner, we were able to compile a solid list of the best Kona coffee – real Hawaiian coffee brands. Irrespective of the brand you choose, we are guaranteed that you will be delighted by the taste and the experience.
Best Kona Coffee: Real Hawaiian Coffee Brands
Hawaiian Lion 100% Maui Mokka Coffee
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Hawaiian Lion 100% Maui Mokka Coffee is not a new entrant in the category of the best Kona coffee. It enjoys a good rapport with millions of drinkers across the globe; hence, an easy favorite for those looking for the best Hawaiian coffee. For several years, it held the number one spot for Hawaii’s Best Coffee, according to the Hawaii Coffee Association. This is a subtle indication of just how good the coffee is and a reason for you to check it out if you don’t know how it tastes.
It is the product of tiny round beans, which happens to be the smallest within the Arabica cultivar. From the small beans, you get a clear and refreshing brew with no bitterness whatsoever.
It is not acidic and doesn’t have any tangling on the roof of your mouth. If you hate coffee that usually comes with unpleasant aftertastes, then this is one of the best brands you should watch out for.
What you find in the Hawaiian Lion 100% Maui Mokka Coffee is a fruity and slightly earthy taste. These and its other characteristics can be attributed to the environment where it was grown. It is also a result of the meticulous care and processing that the coffee goes through right after harvesting.
You will be pleased to learn that for this coffee, the beans will only be roasted after you place your order. It will then be packed in well-aerated bags so that it can ship with maximum freshness. This is the only way you can be assured of the deep and rich flavors from one of Hawaii’s finest.
- Roasting is done after you make your order
- Doesn’t have an unpleasant aftertaste
- Reputed as one of the best coffees in the world
- Not acidic
- None that we can think of
Verdict: If you don’t want any more dry and stale beans from fake blenders, then this is something that you should try. It is where coffee legends turn to when they want a truly lush and regal coffee experience.
Hawaiian Kona Coffee Extra Fancy 16 Oz
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Hawaiian Kona Coffee Extra Fancy 16 Oz is known for its rich flavors, and it is another masterpiece from the Hawaiian Islands. It is a flavorful and full-bodied coffee whose mellow straightforward character has never been any doubt. The coffee is low in acid, boasts a delicious taste, and comes with an exciting and inviting heady aroma.
The Hawaiian Kona Coffee Extra Fancy 16 Oz isn’t bitter at all. Unlike the majority of the medium roasts you will be encountering, this comes with a very smooth body.
As such, you don’t have to worry about any stomach upsets or jittery feelings if you are conscious of the acid levels.
Another beautiful attribute you will love about this coffee is that it is a genuine Kona. This means that it was grown, matured, and harvested in the Kona District of Hawaii. Whether you are looking for world-leading coffee brands or you are interested in real gourmet coffee beans that you can trust for deep and sweet flavors, this is one of those brands you can trust.
It is worth noting that this brand usually sells out pretty fast. If you want to grab it, then don’t wait to pick it up at a later date.
- Comes with deep and rich flavors
- Low acid levels
- 100% Kona coffee
- Slightly acidic
Verdict: The Hawaiian Kona Coffee Extra Fancy 16 Oz is for you if you are tired of the average coffee claiming to be the best from Hawaii. It is a rare and delicious find that you may not want to share with anyone else once you lay your hands on it.
Estate Medium Roast Whole Bean 100% Kona Coffee
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Estate Kona Coffee is obtained from one Kona farm, grown without mixing with any other type of crops on the farm. This particular brand is grown in a high elevation and on a single estate. That is where it obtains the classic flavors of Hawaii, which is well known.
The Estate Medium Roast Whole Bean 100% Kona Coffee is considered among the most delicious coffees from Hawaii.
Its beans are relatively smaller, though they come packed with incredible flavors – a result of the natural mutation that takes place during the maturity process.
It is sweeter and smoother than the normal Kona coffees. If it is going to be your first time tasting it, then your mind is likely to be blown away by just how good it is.
The beans were handpicked, sorted, and treated before they finally found their way into your cup.
- A product of rare and highly sort out beans
- Comes in three different bags of coffee
- Smoother and sweeter than most Kona coffee
- Due to the medium roast, it comes with a bright flavor profile
Verdict: Estate Medium Roast Whole Bean 100% Kona Coffee is a nice escape from regular coffees and a great choice if you are looking to go the gourmet way. If you want a taste of one of the smoothest and sweetest Kona coffees, then all you need is a sip of this brand.
100% Waialua Estate Whole Bean Medium Roast Coffee
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Waialua Estate Coffee is usually slightly different compared to most of the Kona coffees. The main reason for this is that it doesn’t feature any blending of cheap coffee. The coffee is grown entirely organic, without the use of any pesticides or chemicals.
With this medium-dark roast coffee, what you get is a perfect blend of flavors and caffeine. The sophisticated overtones and the bold flavors have a way of guaranteeing a delicious cup every time you get a sip.
The Estate is always keen to ensure that only the very best beans of uniform size, texture, and quality make it to the roasters and, ultimately, to your cup.
Inconsistent roasting is always a challenge to the roasters. This is because some beans may under-roast while others may get burnt, leading to inconsistent quality and flavors. However, that is never the case with Waialua Estate Coffee. With this, only beans of uniform sizes are selected and roasted to perfection for great flavors.
- The coffee is completely organic and grown without the use of any chemicals
- Since they are made from uniformly sized beans and perfectly roasted beans, they have consistent flavors.
- It is smooth, with sophisticated but bold flavors.
- The beans are slightly oily (bad news for the roasters, good news for consumers)
Verdict: If you have missed complex overtones known to result in delicious brews, then you have every reason to try the 100% Waialua Estate Whole Bean Medium Roast Coffee. Cut through the clutter and find the best of the best from the islands of Hawaii.
Grande Domaine Vienna Roast Whole Bean 100% Kona Coffee
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Grande Domaine is another great choice for anyone looking for the best Hawaiian coffee. Its manufacturer has been in the coffee business for the last three decades. This gives it the experience and the expertise needed to produce some of the best coffee beans in the world.
This coffee is wonderfully smooth and will not bother with any disgusting tastes. As such, one cup is never enough. It is also normal to find yourself going for a second, third, or even fourth round.
With this coffee, you are not just purchasing from a popular and well-established brand, but also you are getting your money’s worth up to the last penny. This particular pack features three different types of Kona: the Estate, the Private Reserve, and the Grande Domaine.
The Estate features a rich and fragrant blend of the three top-grade Kona coffees. The Private Reserve features exclusively handpicked beans making them one of the most luxurious coffees in the market.
They were once voted by Forbes as “The Best in America.” The Grand Domaine, on the other hand, is a product of trees that were planted more than a hundred years ago.
They have minimal bitterness, though you will have no problems drinking them at any time of the day.
- It is the product of an award-winning company
- It is relatively affordable, yet it boasts extremely high quality
- Made from high-quality beans, which are then roasted to perfection
- The Grande Domaine comes with minimal bitterness.
Verdict: Your search for the best Kona coffee in Hawaii will come to an end the moment you have a taste of the Grande Domaine Vienna Roast Whole Bean 100% Kona Coffee.
It is smooth, comes with rich flavors, and is also deeply satisfying. The fact that it is a product of a renowned coffee company also adds further credence to its quality and the value you will be getting when you make the purchase.
Best Kona Coffee Buying Guide
Now that you have an idea of what some of the best Kona coffee brands are, it also pays to know how to choose wisely should you shop for these coffee types.
Because of their quality and high demand, there are a lot of fake blends and fake brands in the market. To avoid all the fakes and imitations, here is a detailed overview of what you need to look at when shopping for real Kona coffee-:
Avoid Kona Blends
The first step towards buying real Kona coffee in Hawaii is to stay away from “Kona blends.” The truth is that the “real Kona blends” are very rare and very expensive. Most of the time, you will find a lot of products labeled as “Kona blends” selling cheaply in the store.
You won’t easily find the real blends in the stores, and if you stumble upon one, they will be very expensive. Also, real blends must have at least 10% certified Kona beans.
Most of the blends you will encounter will have more of this percentage. In most cases, this is nothing but low-quality dark roasts.
Don’t fall victim to savvy marketers who use the name “Kona” to steal from unsuspecting and naïve customers.
Don’t buy it if it is not from the Kona Region
Real Kona coffee must come from the Kona region of Hawaii. The Kona Belt of Hawaii has the perfect microclimate for growing high-quality beans.
However, this is never the case for most of the remaining islands in Hawaii. In a real sense, the only coffee that qualifies to be called Kona Coffee is those that are grown and matured on the slopes of the Mauna Loa and Hualalai volcanoes.
If it is branded as Kona, yet you see a different region where the coffee was grown; then it is not real Kona coffee. Don’t buy it because you will be promoting fake brands.
Learn to check the grade
If you don’t know how to check your grades, you are going to get it wrong when buying any brand of coffee. For real Hawaii coffee beans, however, there is always a rigorous testing protocol in place. The Hawaii Department of Agriculture has a grading system for every batch of Kona Beans.
The system is based on a criterion that looks into the size, shape, moisture content, and any other flaw that may be present in the beans.
There are generally eight-grade brands. This includes-: Natural Prime, Mixed Natural Prime, Prim, No.3, No.1, Fancy, Extra Fancy, and Select.
Extra Fancy is considered the highest quality of the beans. Such beans have uniform colors and sizes, and they have nearly no defects.
They are considered the most luxurious Kona beans, so get ready to pay a premium price for them. Always look for the HDA grade to help you understand the coffee grade you are buying.
Buy brands that import their beans directly from Hawaii
This is to help you avoid fake blends in the market. There are good chances that you will be getting the real deal when you buy from companies that import directly from Hawaii.
However, not every company is dedicated to being truthful about where they get their beans from. But just check to reduce your chances of dealing with fake companies.
Kona coffee is a gourmet coffee that experts cherish to review. Every Kona coffee brand you find in this list has been gloriously reviewed by multiple experts. In other words, a real Kona coffee will never slip under the radar.
Therefore, when doing your research, check out reviews from relevant experts. If you can’t find reviews from any brand that claims to sell Kona coffee, then just know that you are about to get scammed.
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It was a tough call to pick an outright winner from the above, and we hope we don’t have to because all of them are great. However, if we have a gun on our heads and the only way to keep living is to pick a brand, then we would go for Hawaiian Lion 100% Maui Mokka Coffee.
It has been around for a while and has been tested and proven to be among the best. Besides, it is not that pricey – very well within the price range of most ardent coffee drinkers.
James is the owner of North. After working at Nick’s on Broadway, James moved to Red Fez and put his knowledge to the test with hot dog R&D. He assisted in the launch of Momofuku Ko in NYC In 2008. And a year later, James was part of Christina Tosi’s team for Momofuku Milk Bar as their bread baker.