Posted on: Friday, April 13, 2012The other morning I ran out of the beans I use for my morning espresso (sorry, I don’t serve espresso for breakfast, it’s just my own personal pre-cooking fix) and was forced to use our pure Kona beans – which we DO use every morning for breakfast. I don’t like using our precious Kona beans for espresso because the flavor gets lost. I was reminded how much there is to know about coffee and how much you can learn here in coffee-country.
Kona beans are a luxury item, some of the most delicious and highly-regarded in the world. They are normally hand-picked and sun-dried, which makes the final product fairly expensive. However, the low acidity of the volcanic soil makes for a final product that is mellow and dreamy – everything coffee should be. In fact, it is so smooth and delicious that some of our guests who normally can’t drink coffee (due to acid reflux, for example) can enjoy a cup or two.
Here are some things to keep in mind when shopping for coffee here: first, because of its beautiful mellowness, Kona beans shouldn’t be dark roasted, look for medium roast only. Dark roast is great for strongly flavored beans destined for espresso drinks, but not for pure Kona coffee. Many of the farmers around here don’t offer dark roast beans, or decaffeinated beans, for that matter.
Also, like wine grapes, beans from the same plant can result in wildly different final products depending on where they were raised (remember Hawaii’s diverse microclimates – beans from Hamakua and Kau will taste very different from Kona, and Kona beans from one small farm will taste very different from another) and how the beans were processed.
There are MANY small local coffee growers around, and the final product all tastes different. In fact, there are tasting contests during the Kona coffee festival in the fall during harvest season.
For guests interested in visiting a large farm, the two South Kona favorites are Greenwell Farms and the Kona Living History Museum (both of which can be accessed through the Kona Historical Society's website: www.konahistorical.org. The Inn is just around the corner from Kona Pacific Farmers Cooperative www.kpfc.com too, a roasting cooperative that is also very fun to visit (they process both beans and macadamia nuts).
Whatever you do, make sure to purchase only coffee marked 100% Kona, not Kona-blend, and please help support our hard-working local coffee farmers.