The Perfect Hawaiian Coffee

In this article, we are going to learn about the Hawaiian coffee. The article will cover a few topics including the history of Hawaii coffee. You will also learn some interesting facts about Hawaiian coffee among other things.

With that said, let’s start by looking at the history of Hawaii Coffee.

Hawaii coffee
A world map made of roasted coffee beans showing that people drink coffee worldwide.

History Of Hawaii Coffee

Like a child is born and brought forth into the world, 1813 was the year that coffee was first introduced in the islands of Hawaii. It was brought by Francisco de Paula Marin, a Spaniard who was visiting the island of Oahu and decided to plant some on the island. In his journal on the 13th of January, 1813 he wrote that he planted some coffee seeds in Oahu. However, not much is known about this or whether the coffee matured and got harvested or not.

Well, it was not until 1825 that coffee would resurface again in Hawaii from Brazil. It was brought by an English man, John Wilkinson who went ahead to plant them in Manoa Valley in the estate of the then governor of the island, Kamaulele.

Following the passing on of Wilkinson in 1827, the coffee plants were left unattended to and weathered. However, some cuttings were taken from the plants and planted in other regions within Honolulu. During this time, there were also some other coffee plants being grown by Richard Carlton, the British Consul.

In 1828, the first Kona coffee was planted. The coffee was brought by Reverend Samuel Ruggles, who was an American missionary. This was the first time coffee was being grown in the Kona region on the island of Hawaii. The Reverend had just been transferred to the district from the Hilo region and brought with him some cuttings from the coffee plants in Boki estate on Oahu and started to plant them. The first coffee plantation in Kona was planted in July 1828 near Kealakekua Church.

It took some time for the trees to grow but eventually, they did and thrived to become the most successful and popular coffee than any other coffee in Hawaii.

Types of Hawaii Coffee

As we have seen, Hawaiian coffee became the most popular coffee from Hawaii compared to any other coffee from the Big Island. However, this isn’t the only type of coffee being grown in the Big Island of Hawaii. Below are some types of Hawaii coffee coming straight from the Big Island.

Kona Coffee

We’ve just seen the history of Kona coffee and how it emerged to be one of the best coffees ever grown in Hawaii. It is often grown on the slopes of the volcanoes on the Island. It’s been recorded that there are over 600 coffee farms in Hawaii that cultivate Kona coffee. This type of coffee makes almost half of all the coffee produced in Hawaii.

Well, some people would really go for the blend. However, if you are a true coffee enthusiast, you would definitely go for raw non blended Kona coffee that is 100 percent pure. This will give you the opportunity to enjoy its great taste and astounding aroma.

The locals don’t often prefer the raw Kona as they find it too strong. This is why they prefer going for the blend and mixing it up with other types.

For Kona coffee to gain this much popularity and become one of the most consumed coffee beverages globally, there really has to be something about it. Well apart from knowing its origin, here are some interesting facts to know about Kona coffee.

It is unique and special

If you have been reading closely, you would have noticed that there is some special connection between the Kona coffee and the people of the Big Island of Hawaii. It is considered as one of the main cash crops in Hawaii and also seen as part of their heritage as it is among the first ever coffee to be planted in the region.

What makes this type of coffee special is the fact that it is only grown on the slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualalai mountains. This is where they get the best Kona coffee beans that have a full-bodied flavor and produce a mesmerizing aroma. This is all attributed to the volcanic soil found in the slopes hence the complex taste of the beverage. Without the nutrient-rich volcanic soil, Kona coffee won’t thrive.

Contains a bit more caffeine

Kona coffee isn’t like any other coffee out there. As you have seen, it is grown under certain conditions that you wouldn’t find anywhere else but only in Hawaii. Some people would often argue that Kona coffee gets its great taste from the fact that it is a little bit more caffeinated. Well, this might be true.

When you compare Kona coffee to an average Colombian coffee, you will find out that indeed the Kona coffee has a bit more caffeine. A cup of the average Colombian coffee will often contain about 30mg to 50mg of caffeine while a cup of Kona coffee only roasted to medium dark will have about 54mg.

However, even though Kona might be different from your average coffee when it comes to caffeine, it is still not the most caffeinated coffee beverage out there. There are some types that have upto 100 mg. So, does Kona have much caffeine? The answer is yes, but it’s not too much that will become unbearable to you or cause any health issues.

Is it worth the hype?

Whether you buy it locally or internationally, the fact still remains that the best Kona coffee comes at a relatively expensive price. Also, getting to take a sip of an originally brewed coffee from Kona is a big deal.

The reason for Kona coffee being that much priced is simply owed to the fact that there is much demand for the beverage yet the product is limited. Statistically, there are only about 900 coffee plantations in Hawaii. This can only produce about 2.7 million pounds of the beans.

Also, considering the fact that there isn’t any manufacturing process involved, the beans are being sold straight from the farmers. This explains why the coffee seems to be a bit overpriced. The cost of production and a little profit for the farmer.

Hawaii’s Most Famous Coffee

As mentioned before, Kona coffee is the most popular type among other coffee beans harvested in Hawaii. Because of its uniqueness, it has gained much popularity all over the world as one of the most loved coffee. Since the beans are coming from Hawaii, people started calling it Hawaiian coffee. However, there are some other types of coffee grown in Hawaii as well.

The Kona coffee captures more attention mainly because of the conditions it grows under. As mentioned before, the Kona coffee is grown on the volcanic nutrient-rich soil on the slopes of Kona which also has a unique microclimate. As generations of coffee farmers come and go, they always try to find better ways to take care of the coffee beans. This also brings an improvement in terms of quality of the beans produced.

Kona coffee is also processed with utmost care at each stage. By the time it reaches your cup, you will be dazzled by the rich taste and great aroma it has. Truly, you can’t make a comparison between coffee beans that are mass-produced and picked by the use of a machine with a well-cultivated and handpicked Kona coffee.

Drinking a cup of Kona coffee is like drinking a limited coffee beverage. With each sip, comes the satisfaction of being among the few who actually get a chance to taste one of the most flavor-rich coffee in the world. It is for this reason that the Kona coffee remains to be Hawaii’s famous coffee.

Ka’u Coffee

In the southern district of the Island lies the slopes of Mauna Loa. This is where Ka’u coffee is cultivated. It started gaining popularity in the mid-90s when farmers who were growing sugarcane before decided to try their hand in coffee farming. It just took off and the rest is history.

Even though it isn’t as popular as the Kona coffee globally, its name is still well-established in the regional and national markets. This type of coffee is associated with a moist and floral taste which is accompanied by an amazing aroma. You will often find the Ka’u coffee being sold at the local stores or the firm markets on the Island.

Puna Coffee

Still in the slopes of Mauna Loa, there is another type of coffee there, the Puna coffee. At the start of the year, the Puna coffee will start blooming thus giving out a Jasmine-like scent. However, it is until the summer that the real development to maturity will start, after that they harvest in autumn.

The Puna coffee is dense and full-bodied. This means it has a very complex and advanced taste. When drinking it, you will feel as if various tastes are overlapping each other hence bringing a rich and quite admirable taste with each sip you take.

If you are a mocha fan, then you need to roast your puna coffee just to a medium level. It will taste almost like some mochas thus leaving you with a pleasant and satisfying feeling.

Hamakua Coffee

This is also another type of coffee that means so much more to the people of the Big Island of Hawaii. The beans grow on the slopes of Mauna Kea in the district of Hamakua, hence the name.

Since the introduction of this type of coffee in the region, it has provided a lot of opportunities for the local farmers when it comes to coffee farming.

Every year, this region boasts of between 100 and 200 acres of farm lands of harvesting. If you are just visiting the area, you can purchase the Hamakua coffee from the local stores and farm markets. You can also visit the Hilo Coffee Mill to enjoy this and many other different types of coffee grown on the Island.

Kauai Coffee

Coffee farming had gained much popularity in Hawaii and in 1987, Kauai converted about 22, 000 acres of land to coffee plantations. These lands were previously for sugar cane farming. The company responsible for this conversion is Kauai Coffee Company which still owns and grows Kauai coffee. They grow 100 percent pure Kauai coffee using different Arabica beans.

The farms would later be flooded and destroyed in 1992 by Hurricane Iniki. However, the farmers picked up the pieces and bounced back on growing coffee. By 1996, the Kauai coffee harvest equaled the harvest from the Kona coffee belt. This was a major milestone for the farmers and a sign to show just how much coffee means to the people of Hawaii.

Molokai Coffee

The Molokai coffee is in the Kualapuu village. The plantation sits on about 500 acres of land with a mill on it as well. The plantation is being run by Coffee of Hawaii and often makes good roasted coffee.

This type of coffee has a rich body and comes with a chocolate finish, mild acidity and a medium roast. When drinking it, you can always taste the red volcanic soil of Molokai thus adding a great flavor to the beverage.

Waialua Coffee of Oahu

In between the cities of Waialua and Wahiawa, you will find the Waialua estate. This was also a sugar cane farm transforming to a coffee plantation. The farm mainly grows Arabica Typica coffee.

It lies at 650 feet above the sea level and covers about 160 acres. Out of this, about 20 acres is for a Cacao orchard.

This type of coffee is often described as well-balanced when it comes to taste. It has a medium body and a clean finish, not forgetting the hint of chocolate. All these bundled together in your cup will definitely leave you with a mesmerizing aftertaste.


As you may know, there are other types of coffee grown in Hawaii and then there is the Kona coffee. It is among the best coffee you can find and the fact that it comes from Hawaii makes it a little more interesting.

If you are a true coffee lover, you should have it on your coffee-drinking bucket list. The best thing about it is, you don’t have to go all the way to Hawaii to have a taste. You can find it in your local stores and if you can, you can decide to become a tourist and visit the Big Island of Hawaii.

Aside from the coffee, it’s also a beautiful Island with a lot more to offer. Try the Kona coffee today and live to tell the tale.

Read more: Best Uganda’s Coffee Beans

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