The 9 Best Kona Coffee Beans: Don’t Fall for Fake Hawaiian Coffee

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Kona is famous for its top-notch coffee beans, making it a coffee lover’s dream. Did you know Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. where coffee is grown? And among Hawaii’s coffee, Kona beans are the cream of the crop!

Searching for the perfect Kona coffee beans? Avoid spending on fakes or weak blends! I’ve curated a list of top-rated Kona coffee roasters and their finest beans. Dive in and discover your favorite!

Looking for the top Kona coffee roast? I recommend Volcanica Coffee Kona Peaberry for the best quality. For beginners, try the Koa Coffee Tri-Pack—a fantastic starter pack.

What is Kona Coffee?

A Kona coffee field in Hawaii, the US's only major coffee-producing state

Genuine Kona coffee beans are grown on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa in Hawaii’s Kona regions. These special Arabica beans are treasured for their distinct taste, which comes from the nutrient-rich volcanic soil they’re grown in. The perfect weather—sunny mornings, cloudy or rainy afternoons, gentle breezes, and cool nights—adds to their unique flavor. 

What Is So Special About Kona Coffee?

Kona coffee delights with its rich taste, inviting aroma, and memorable aftertaste.

The Kona flavor

Dive into the world of Kona coffee, where each sip whispers of brown sugar, honey, chocolate, milk, and a burst of bright fruits. How you brew it, the roast level, and the freshness of the coffee grounds can tweak its taste. Yet, despite these variations, Kona’s signature delicious essence remains, making it a cherished brew among coffee lovers.

Chocolate and honey, some of the common flavors in Kona coffee beans

The Kona aroma

Kona coffee smells like a dream: buttery caramel, rich cocoa, and juicy fruit. It’s a sweet, Hawaiian treasure that’s absolutely incredible.

The Kona aftertaste

Kona coffee’s aftertaste is a delightful surprise. It brings a mix of citrus and nutty flavors to your taste buds, like leaving a fun party with the best goody bag ever.

Kona Coffee Grades

Kona coffee is famous for a reason. It’s held to incredibly high standards, something other regions only wish for. Each batch gets a special grade from the Hawaiian Department of Agriculture (HDA), ensuring its quality.

The HDA sorts coffee into 8 quality levels, from best to least.

  1. Extra fancy
  2. Fancy
  3. No.1
  4. Select
  5. Prime
  6. No. 3
  7. Natural Prime
  8. Mixed Natural Prime

Coffee grades consider things like bean shape, size, how rare it is, moisture, and flaws. Many of these elements greatly affect how your coffee tastes. Some aspects, like how rare a bean is, are more about bragging rights than actual quality.

In the world of coffee, an HDA extra fancy grade is as good as a promise. It means almost everything was done perfectly, even if not all steps impact the taste. It’s a mark of true quality. 

Avoid Kona Blends

True Kona coffee is a luxury, but beware of fakes! Many brands sell “Kona blends” that only need to contain a tiny 10% of real Kona beans. Sadly, this small amount means you miss out on the special flavors that make Kona coffee so unique. Stick to genuine brands for the real experience.

Fake blends have tarnished the true glory of Kona coffee, which is a real shame. To guarantee you’re getting the genuine taste, always buy Kona coffee that comes directly from Hawaii.

Best Kona Coffee Beans

Let’s dive into the exciting world of Kona coffee! Where can you find the best, most authentic Kona coffee roasts? It’s time to uncover the answer to the ultimate question: Which Kona coffee brand tops them all?

Best Kona Coffee Beans: Volcanica Coffee Kona Peaberry

  • 100% Pure Kona Peaberry Beans for an authentic experience with a flavor that can be described as smooth, nutty and luscious with an intense aroma.
  • The most prized coffee in the world and award winning by Food & Wine Magazine with smooth, rich and full flavor with low acid content. An aroma of orange blossoms and cherries open the flavor of chocolate and roasted almonds. Vibrant and bright and with notes of caramel and a sweet, delicate honey finish.
  • State of Hawaii Certified
  • Medium roasted whole beans allowing the true flavor characteristic to come through for a remarkable taste. Fresh roasted then immediately packed and sealed to assure freshness.
  • 100% Customer Satisfaction Guaranteed. Fresh roasted then immediately packed and sealed to assure freshness.
  • Fresh roasted then immediately packed and sealed to assure freshness
  • 100% Customer Satisfaction Guaranteed.

Volcanica is all about winning. I’ve already praised them for having amazing Ethiopian coffee and top-notch espresso beans. Now, their Hawaiian coffee beans are also getting top marks. If you’ve tasted their best blends, you’ll know why I can’t stop talking about them. Haven’t tried them yet? Maybe now’s the perfect time to see what the fuss is about.

Volcanica Coffee’s Kona Peaberry is a standout, earning its spot as the top peaberry coffee beans and the best Kona coffee out there. Wondering what a peaberry is? It’s a special kind of coffee bean. Normally, coffee cherries contain two beans, but in about 5% of them, something unusual happens, and you get just one bean. This unique bean gets all the nutrients to itself, making it richer and fuller in flavor compared to regular beans. Plus, its distinct round shape is why it’s called a “peaberry.” Dive into the world of peaberries with Volcanica’s Kona Peaberry for an extraordinary coffee experience.

In the world of coffee, peaberries are often separated because they taste different from regular beans. But, there’s something special about peaberry coffee – it’s made exclusively from these unique beans, offering a one-of-a-kind flavor. Coffee enthusiasts debate if peaberry coffee stands out because it’s truly superior or because it’s crafted from top-notch beans. Regardless of the reason, trying peaberry coffee is an adventure every coffee lover should embark on.

Dive into the world of coffee with this medium-roast delight! It’s rich, nutty, and fills the air with inviting aromas. Perfect for those who enjoy a smooth, low-acid coffee with a balanced body. Love Kona coffee’s finest qualities and crave something uniquely rich? These peaberry beans are your perfect match!

Best Kona Coffee Starter Pack: Koa Coffee Tri-Pack

Diving into the world of top-notch Kona beans reveals a treasure trove of flavors! With so many choices, why not kick things off with a sampler pack? It’s a perfect start, featuring three premium Kona beans from Koa Coffee, a roaster that’s earned rave reviews.

  • Grande Domaine Kona: This medium-dark roast was a winner of the Kona Coffee Cupping Contest (try saying that 5 times) for outstanding quality and balance. Want to know part of their secret? Mixed in with their high-quality regular beans are just a handful of peaberries. If you are noticing a theme to quality Kona coffee, you are not alone.
  • Private Reserve Kona: Forbes called this one the “Best in America”. I’d like to tell you a bit more about the blend, but they hold the secret close. All we really know is that it is 100% Kona and includes multiple grades of Kona beans to create a unique final result. The tri-pack includes the medium-roast of this blend, but you can also purchase a dark-roast variant separately if you prefer.
  • Estate Kona: If you want to bring out the full flavor of a bean, you need to keep it separate from other beans that will mask or modify the flavor. The Estate roast uses only beans from a single high-elevation farm. As with the Private Reserve, you can separately purchase a dark-roast variant if you want, but the Tri-Pack includes the medium roast instead.

Best Premium Kona Coffee: Koa Coffee Peaberry Kona

Are you on the hunt for an extraordinary coffee experience? Dive into the world of premium Hawaiian Kona coffee. Kona beans are renowned for their exceptional quality, but imagine only the finest of these making the grade. Now, push the boundaries even more by focusing on the rarest 5% — the peaberries. This meticulous selection process is why this coffee is such a rare find. Get ready to explore the pinnacle of coffee luxury!

Koa Coffee brings a special treat by sourcing rare, unroasted beans from small farms not usually available to us. Sometimes, they’re so popular, they run out! I recommend the medium roast for a smooth taste, but the dark roast is also fantastic for a richer flavor. Can’t decide? Go for the duo pack and try both. It’s a great way to explore their unique offerings.

Best Regular Kona Coffee Beans: Volcanica Coffee Hawaiian Kona Extra Fancy

  • Authentic Hawaiian Kona Extra Fancy Coffee with a refined taste, smooth body, superb aroma and a buttery richness with nutty cinnamon and clove overtones.
  • 100% authentic Kona X-Fancy Coffee and Single Origin. This is NOT a Kona Blend that usually contain little to none Kona Coffee.
  • Certified by the State of Hawaii.
  • Medium roasted ground coffee allowing the true flavor characteristic to come through for a remarkable taste. Fresh roasted then immediately packed and sealed to assure freshness.
  • Fresh roasted then immediately packed and sealed to assure freshness.
  • 100% Customer Satisfaction Guaranteed.

Not all coffee lovers seek peaberries. For those who love classic beans but crave top-notch Kona coffee, Volcanica has you covered. No surprise, it’s exceptional. 

This medium-roast coffee is full-bodied, smooth, and has a rich flavor, with just a hint of acidity. Grown in the nutrient-rich volcanic soil of the Kona region, it’s known for its exceptional quality. It’s an “extra fancy” grade, which means you’re getting the finest beans from Hawaii. Plus, Volcanica roasts the beans only after you order, ensuring you get the freshest coffee possible.

Keala’s Hawaiian Coffee 100% Kona

Just like the previous choice, this coffee is a top-notch Kona roast. It comes from tiny farms in Kona, where beans are carefully handpicked. Seven Coffee Roasters then roasts these beans in small batches to guarantee they’re super fresh.

Dive into a cup where toasted coconut and passion fruit shine, enhancing the lively, fruity taste of these medium-roast beans. It’s a balanced and bold experience, delightfully highlighting the rich flavors of these premium beans.

Imagine Kona

Continuing with top-notch beans, here’s another one you can’t miss! Sure, the packaging might remind you of a magician’s hat, but don’t let that distract you. Perhaps it’s just me, but what’s inside is what truly matters.

Their beans come from one special farm in Kona, growing peacefully under Macadamia nut trees. Each bean is carefully picked by hand, dried in the sun, and roasted with air. This process gives you a coffee that’s sweet and strong, but not too acidic – just smooth and full-flavored. It’s so good, it even won a gold award from the prestigious Agency for the Valorization of Agricultural Products (AVPA) in Paris.

You might be asking why this coffee didn’t land higher on our list. The reason? Some folks ended up with stale batches. For a premium coffee, freshness is key. I just can’t overlook that in a top pick.

Hawaii Coffee Company Royal Kona Estate 100% Kona

  • 100% KONA COFFEE (NOT A BLEND): Made from the finest premium Kona coffee beans and milled at our facility in the heart of the Kona Region that is known for producing some of the world's most famous coffee's.
  • PRIVATE RESERVE WHOLE BEAN: Our premium medium roast private reserve featuring 100% Kona whole bean coffee makes a delicious and memorable cup with a smooth, full bodied flavor.
  • TASTE OF HAWAII: This exquisite private reserve coffee is always fresh from hand selected Kona beans, expertly roasted producing an unforgettable cup of Kona coffee.
  • FRESHNESS GUARANTEED: All Royal Kona coffee is roasted then immediately vacuum sealed and delivered fresh to you for optimal taste and aroma.
  • HAWAII SINCE 1969: Our heritage is Hawaii where we have been roasting and producing some of the world’s best coffee for over 50 years. Every bag of our Kona is fresh and packed with delightful, authentic flavor.
  • WE HAVE A NEW LOOK: You may receive either the original gold design or our new design as we transition our packaging over the next few months, however you can be certain that you’ll receive the same fresh tasting coffee that you know and love.

Wondering if I should highlight that this coffee is top-notch? Well, it’s clear by now! Many top Hawaiian coffee makers, like this one, nurture their beans on their own farms. This ensures they keep a close eye on quality at every stage.

This light roast stands out as the only one on our list, showing just how special it is. It bursts with a lively, bright, and clean taste, highlighted by a fruity touch. The Hawaii Coffee Company roasts beans only when you order, ensuring you get to savor these beans at their freshest and most flavorful.

Blue Horse 100% Kona

  • OUR BRAND STORY: Monumental volcanoes and lush, verdant steep slopes make Kona, Hawaii a special place on earth. The high elevation, mountain slopes, mineral and nutrient-rich volcanic soil, and cooler temperatures create perfect conditions for coffee. It’s where Blue Horse 100% Kona Coffee was born. It's where we grow the world's best and most famous Kona coffee - right here in the USA.
  • 100% HAWAII KONA (NOT A BLEND!): Kona Estate Quality - Made of finest premium Kona coffee beans, grown in Hawaii, USA. The beans we use for our compatible K-cups are the same we use for our whole bean packages (not broken and inferior beans that many other brands grind up and hide in their capsules).
  • FARM-FRESH, SUSTAINABLE: Our coffee is shade grown, handpicked, sun dried, and rainwater washed (means more work for us but more flavor for you).
  • CLASSIC ROAST: This slightly darker medium roast profile is our most popular classic roast and the most common roast level within the Kona Coffee Belt. Best in a French Press, Pour-Over, or Drip Coffee maker.
  • DELICIOUS TASTE: Blue Horse 100% Kona coffee beans have complex fragrant, floral notes with a lingering sweetness. These premium pure Kona beans are medium brown in appearance with spots of aromatic oils. Aromatic, nut-like scents created in the island's rain forest will fill your senses and seep into your veins. Enjoy hints of almonds and tropical vanilla with a light, velvety body.
  • FRESH & FLAVORFUL: The key to great coffee is to enjoy it when it’s freshly roasted. Sealed shut, our premium vacuum sealed, resealable zip-locked bag keeps coffee fresher for longer at peak aroma. (Please squeeze the remaining air out each time you open the bag, so that oxygen doesn’t reduce the coffee’s freshness!)
  • 100% MADE IN THE USA: Our Kona coffee is 100% grown, handpicked, processed, and roasted in the USA.
  • HIGHEST QUALITY: Our farming and processing follows strict USDA and Hawaiian Government legal quality standards, and our state-of-the-art roasting facilities meet or exceed all needed FDA certifications.
  • TRY A CUP: Blue Horse 100% Kona Coffee comes highly rated by thousands of satisfied and loyal customers who have loved our delicious, US-made coffee since 2005. We will let you decide for yourself, and hope you will love our coffee as well. Mahalo!

Moving from the lightest roast we talked about earlier, we now dive into the darkest one on our list. It stands out as the sole true dark roast that we’ve selected. For those who lean towards a less intense flavor, there’s also a medium roast option available. Differing from the majority of our picks, this one isn’t labeled as extra fancy grade Kona. Instead, it’s categorized as estate grade, blending beans from extra fancy down to prime grade.

Blue Horse coffee stands out by using beans grown in the shade, picked by hand, and dried in the sun. They focus on eco-friendly farming, avoiding pesticides and herbicides, and source their beans from a single estate.

They’ve truly outdone themselves crafting a blend that might be lower grade but is bursting with rich chocolate and caramel flavors, true to the Hawaiian Kona coffee tradition. Add in a smooth caramel finish and a hint of nuttiness, and it’s easy to see why this is considered premium Kona coffee.

Big Island Coffee Roasters Kona Bloom

We’ve reached our final pick, but don’t underestimate it – it’s a top-notch, extra fancy grade bean! Truly, a gem among coffees. 

Dive into the smooth, medium roast that dances with flavors! Imagine a sip that’s light yet rich, blending tastes of toffee, nougat, and sweet jasmine. Add a dash of honey-butter, juicy peaches, chocolatey cacao, and ripe apricots. It’s a floral, delicate delight that might just steal your heart as the best of the bunch.

Final Verdict

Exploring the world of coffee can be thrilling, and if you’ve been disappointed by Kona blends before, don’t give up just yet. For a delightful dive into what Kona coffee can offer, the Koa Coffee Tri-Pack is a perfect starting point to taste the variety. And if you’re after a single, standout roast to kickstart your day, I highly recommend the Volcanica Coffee Kona Peaberry. Dive in and enjoy the journey!

To truly dive into coffee, you must try peaberry and standard beans. Soon, you’ll be captivated. Remember, Kona coffee might be pricey, but the best adventures often come with a cost.

Spread the word to your friends about the real deal with Kona blends and save them from a letdown. In return, ask them for a cup of genuine Kona coffee as a thank you. Fair trade, right?

best kona coffee beans

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