Kona coffee does not mean any coffee grown in Hawaii. Like French wine, the name only applies to coffee beans grown in a specific area of Hawaii, the Hualalai and Mauna Loa Mountains of North and South Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii.
The area that is now home to Kona coffee plantations once supported the native Hawaiians in the area for a thousand years with crops of sweet potatoes, breadfruit, bananas and taro with rich soil and mild climates. The first coffee plants were introduced to Kona in the early 1800s from Brazilian clippings. They did more than just take root — they flourished. The plants thrive on the western slopes of the Hualalai and Mauna Loa volcanoes that provide shelter for the crops from the trade winds and faces the sun in the afternoon. It is an optimal environment for cultivating coffee which the rest of Hawaii, or the world, cannot replicate.Coffee cultivation in Kona is dominated by smaller growers with farms that usually aren't larger that five acres, in a tiny area of the Kona region. The farms are in an approximate 30 mile area between 800 and 2,500 feet. The climate is too dry and hot for coffee to survive below 800 feet; above 2,500 feet, the area's rain forest dominates the landscape and seasonal rainfall does not take place.
Harvesting and preparing coffee is done on a small scale. Coffee beans are picked by hand from the months of August to January at the peak of their maturity. The beans are encased in a bright red berry that looks like a cherry. Pulping the berry and fermenting the beans takes fresh, pure water. The beans are then placed under the sun on "hoshidanas," or drying racks, and are turned with a rake to ensure even drying.
Only by drinking 100 Percent Pure Kona Coffee, grown on its fertile coffee fields and harvested and processed by hand and by traditional methods, can one truly enjoy Kona coffee. A blend cannot compare.