Why Is Kona Coffee So Expensive? [4 Tasty Alternatives]

Delicious Kona coffee is grown on the volcanic slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualalai which is located on the Big Island of Hawaii. This region produces 2.7 million pounds of Kona coffee and is one of the only coffees grown commercially in the United States. 

The Hawaiian environment is perfect growing grounds that are the foundation of flavor for this incredible tasting coffee. The volcanic slopes are the ideal elevation for the rich volcanic soil which experiences sunshine early in the morning and rain in the afternoon. 

Kona coffee is very expensive since it is a very labor-intensive product. The farmers handpick the beans that have to be dried, roasted and packaged. The average cost for one pound bag is $8 which does not even include the labor costs. Keep reading below about the cost breakdown and its cheaper alternatives. 

What Does Kona Coffee Taste Like? 

Now that the expense of the coffee has been revealed you must insist this coffee tastes amazing and it does! The taste profile for Kona coffee is sweet, fruity, light, and contains slight hints of nuts or spice.

Kona Coffee

During the roasting process, the fruit and sweet flavors are first picked up then as the roast progresses it develops body. This delectable combination creates unique coffee that can’t be duplicated anywhere else in the world.

Why Is Kona Coffee So Good? 

The unique aspect that makes Kona coffee taste so good is the island microclimate and soil. The land is cared for by coffee farmers that pass their skills from generation to generation to ensure the quality of the coffee remains the same for future generations. The authentic taste depends on the process that is specifically designed to produce the best quality coffee from the region. 

Is Kona Coffee Really Better? 

As a coffee lover, your particular taste determines which coffee is best for you. However, Kona coffee is a level above most other brands due to the state of Hawaii’s strict guidelines created by the agriculture department. 

The Kona coffee grading system includes the following top five categories: 

1.Extra Fancy

Extra Fancy Kona coffee is known as the best of the best due to the beans used being the most moisture heavy and largest of the crop. The beans have less than 10 or fewer imperfections per pound and can’t pass through a 19-64” inch circular hole. The moisture content is 9% to 12%. 

2.Fancy

Like all Kona coffees, the Fancy grade has 9% to 12% moisture content. However, it does not pass through an 18-64” inch round hole and contains less than 16 full imperfections per pound. 

3.Kona Number 1

Many consumers get confused when they realize Kona Number 1 coffee is not considered the best. Instead, first place belongs to the extra fancy blend. Kona Number 1 is actually difficult to find by itself because it’s known for being part of a Kona blend. 

Kona Number 1 by itself contains less than 20 full perfections per pound, it can’t pass through a 16-64” inch round hole. However, it is usually part of a blend that contains less than 50 other types of beans per pound.  

4.Select

The Select grade Kona coffee contains less than 5% defects and is not associated with a particular size. Instead, the strict guidelines for this grade are focused on the flavors it produces when brewed which does not cause any undesirable flavors to be produced including a sour, fermented, medicinal, or moldy taste. 

5.Prime

Kona Prime coffee is the most affordable option of all the coffee grades. It contains 25% or less defective beans and no more than 5% of black or sour beans. It’s the lowest grade on the scale but keep in mind they are all held to strict guidelines and ensure optimal flavor compared to coffee from other coffee-growing regions around the world. 

Keep in mind that Kona coffee is one of the highest in demand coffees around the globe regardless of the grade due to the incredible taste and flavor that can’t be found anywhere else. 

What Is Kona Coffee Cost?

Kona coffee is known as one of the best coffees worldwide and grows in a 30 mile long and 1-mile wide location. The region has about 600 independent family-run coffee farms. Each family works about five to seven acres. The intensive labor from the beginning to the end of the process is highly expensive to maintain. 

Coffee

A one-pound bag of beans alone costs $8 per pound. This doesn’t sound too expensive until you add the labor costs including maintenance, fertilizers, land use, electrical, gas, farm mortgage, marketing, and taxes. All the labor involved makes the price of 100% Kona coffee average between $45 and $60 per pound.

Why Is Most Kona Coffee Sold As Kona blend? 

Since Kona coffee is the most prized and expensive coffee in the world, producers sometimes sell a mixture of non-Kona coffee with authentic Kona beans to reduce costs and create different flavors. 

Kona coffee is not a specific roast such as Italian or French, but it particularly refers to coffee beans grown in a specific area of Hawaii. Since Kona growers are held to extremely strict American labor laws, the cost of this delicious coffee usually costs twice as much as coffee from other regions. 

This exquisite coffee is so special that Hawaiian state law says any blend of Kona coffee has to be labeled and contain at least 10% Kona coffee beans. 

Kona coffee farmers take this seriously and have filed a lawsuit in federal court in Seattle to protect their products from false use and representation. Due to advanced technology, testing has been created to identify individual coffee beans which have revealed about 19 products on the market that are labeled “Kona” do not contain any authentic Kona coffee beans or incredibly small traces. 

Kona Coffee

Kona coffee farmers are in the processing of suing companies such as Costco, Amazon, and Walmart for selling fake Kona coffee products. The list of defendants also includes Kroger, Safeway, Copper Moon Coffee, Magnum Coffee Roastery, and Maui Coffee Co.

Where To Buy Kona Coffee? 

So, with all this trickery going on, where can you buy authentic Kona coffee? Here are the best Kona coffee brands that you can purchase online and have delivered to your front door. 

1.Blue Horse 100% Kona Coffee

This brand comes from a family-owned Kona farm and is known as the best artisan Kona coffee. 

2.Hawaiian Kona Coffee Extra Fancy from Volcanica Coffee

This authentic Kona coffee is freshly roasted to order for superior taste. 

3.Koa Coffee Medium Roast Kona Whole Bean Tri-Pack

This option has amazing value and quality. 

4.Hawaii Coffee Company Royal 100% Kona Estate Medium Roast

This delicate coffee is labeled as a medium roast but it is actually lighter than other roasts. 

4 Tasty Alternatives To Kona Coffee

Kona coffee in its authentic form is rich in flavor and high in demand by coffee drinkers worldwide. However, some coffee lovers are not prepared to pay the high price per pound and seek similar quality at lower prices.

The following information guides you towards delectable high-quality coffees from around the world that are tasty alternatives to Kona coffee and cost slightly less. 

Kona Coffee$45 to $60 per pound
Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee$32 for 1 box of 12 single cups
Tanzania Peaberry Coffee$38 for a 5 pound bag
Guatemalan Antigua Coffee$20 per pound
Panama Geisha CoffeeUp to $69 per pound
  

 1.Jamaican Blue Mountain

Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is considered to be in a league of its own. The unique growing region where the coffee is grown contributes to its unique flavor and fragrance profile that makes it one of the best gourmet coffees in the industry. 

2.Tanzania Peaberry Coffee

This sophisticated and luxurious coffee is grown in a small region located on the slopes of Mt Meru and Mt. Kilimanjaro. This area produces uniquely sweet coffee with an incredible chocolate aftertaste. 

3.Guatemalan Antigua Coffee

This smoky and spicy coffee is a top contender when it comes to the best coffees in the world. The quality is unlike any other in the world and quality freshly roasted batches are worth tracking down. 

4.Panama Geisha Coffee 

This aromatic coffee is a special treat for coffee lovers. It is bursting with flavor and contains a hint of bergamot and floral undertones. The combination of flavors is complex and worth the experience. 

Is Kona Coffee Worth The Price? 

The reason Kona coffee is so expensive is due to the cost of labor. This rich and flavorful coffee is handpicked by farmers year-round. The workers specifically pick the red cherry from the tree which requires them to pick the same tree several times throughout the picking season. The beans are separated by size since the larger bean is known to contain the best quality. Then the coffee is dried, roasted, and packaged. 

As a coffee lover, Kona coffee is worth the price even if you only try it once in your lifetime. The unique conditions the coffee beans are grown under and the roasting process creates a unique taste that must be tried at least once or savored for special moments. Let your taste buds make the decision whether this is a daily morning coffee or one to be enjoyed on a cold day! 

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