9 Best Kona Coffee Beans Reviewed For 2021

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If you’re looking to take your coffee drinking to the next level, choosing Kona coffee beans is the way to go.

Kona coffee from Hawaii is famous for its mouth-watering aroma and deliciously smooth, rich flavor, and distinctive fruity profile.

That’s why we have reviewed and picked 9 of the best Kona beans for you to consider.

But be warned, once you’ve tasted the best Kona coffee available, you may find it hard to enjoy anything else!

Our Favorite Picks For The Best Kona Coffee Beans

Koa Coffee – Whole Bean Kona Coffee Tri-Pack

Koa Coffee Kona Tri-Pack

The Details | Best Overall

  • Taste: Rich Smooth
  • Roast: Medium Roast & Medium Dark Roast
  • Type: Whole Bean Size: 3 Bags (1 LB (453g) Each)
  • Size: 3 Bags (1 LB (453g) Each)

Review

The Tri-Pack Kona Sampler has three varieties of 100% Kona, each with its unique characteristics.

1 Bag of Grande Domaine Kona Coffee

This little beauty is very well known and was selected as a Kona Coffee Cupping Contest Winner because of its amazing quality and balance. The resulting brew is deliciously rich and smooth without being overly bitter.

1 Bag of Private Reserve Kona Coffee

This blend is a mixture of 100% Kona coffee beans from various grades and farms. The Private Reserve was awarded the title of the “Best in America” by Forbes magazine.

1 Bag of Estate Kona

Sourced from only one small farm on the Mauna Loa volcano slopes, this blend mixes the top three grades of Kona coffee, so you get to experience the full joy of the moistest, flavorful beans combined.

Bottom Line

The Kona Sampler Tri-pack is a great way to try out a few different varieties and make a fantastic coffee lover gift. It also comes at a reasonable price, considering its premium quality – an excellent introduction to the joys of Kona coffee.

Volcanica – Kona Peaberry Coffee Gran Reserve

Volcanica Peaberry Kona Coffee

The Details | 100% Authentic Kona Peaberry Coffee Beans

  • Taste: Smooth Mellow – Honey Aftertaste
  • Roast: Medium Roast & Medium Dark Roast
  • Type: Whole Bean Size: 16 oz. (1 LB (453g) Each)
  • Size: 16 oz. (1 LB (453g) Each)

Review

This Kona peaberry coffee is grown higher on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa than most other Kona beans. Food and Wine Magazine have rated it as a Top 10 Coffee.

Available as whole beans or grounds, these beans produce a smooth and mellow cup.

Described by Volcanica as having an “aroma of orange blossoms and cherries” and a “flavor of chocolate and roasted almonds,” this is a delicious variety that has a sweet honey aftertaste.

Bottom Line

Volcanica peaberry coffee from the Gran Reserve comes in a 16-ounce bag, and the beans are roasted on the day of shipping to get the freshest possible coffee to your doorstep. If you prefer not to grind your beans – you can order pre-ground Kona coffee directly from Volcanica.

Hawaii Coffee Company – Royal Kona Private Reserve

Hawaii Coffee Company Private Reserve Kona

Coffee Features

  • Taste: Fruity And Earthy
  • Roast: Medium Roast
  • Type: Whole Bean
  • Size: 7 oz. (198g)

Review

If you have been to Hawaii, this Royal Kona coffee will take you back to the islands with its intoxicating aroma and smooth profile.

Judged “superior” by the American Academy of Taste, this medium roast Kona is available in whole beans or as an all-purpose grind.

While some coffee comes with a certain level of bitterness, this brew should satisfy even the pickiest of drinkers – particularly those who can’t tolerate high levels of acidity. Fruity and with a touch of earthiness, there’s absolutely no bitter after taste.

The brew may even be a little light for those who prefer some kick to coffee.

Bottom Line

While all our picks would make great gifts for coffee lovers, Royal Kona Private Reserve coffee is one you may want to keep for yourself.

UVB Infused Special Edition Kona Coffee By Imagine

Imagine Kona UltraViolet Blu Light Infused Biodynamic Special Edition | Organic Whole Coffee Beans | Made From Premium Hawaiin Kona Beans | Top Grade Air Roasted | Medium Roast - 16 ounce

Coffee Features

  • Taste: Light Nutty With Hints Of Caramel
  • Roast: Medium-Dark Roast
  • Type: Whole Bean
  • Size: 16 oz. (1 LB (454g))

Review

The Imagine coffee bean by Buddha’s Cup has an extra fancy rating. This indicates that this large and fruity bean is the optimal size and weight and free from defects or disease.

The aroma includes a floral scent, and the coffee may have a citrus flavor at the finish.

What makes these beans special is that they are processed with UVB light in a Blu Room. It’s claimed to make your coffee extra tasty compared to their untreated Kona beans. The downside to that is that the price is much higher.

These beans are strictly Hawaiian grown, which means no blending with Arabica beans from other regions to lessen the flavor intensity or quality.

Imagine beans are available only in whole bean size, so you will want a good grinder to get the best possible flavor from them.

Bottom Line

The Special Edition coffee beans by Imagine are air-roasted to maintain a fruity, sweet taste. While some coffee drinkers prefer a dark and sometimes smoky roasted flavor, this coffee will remind you that coffee beans start as a berry.

Hawaii Roasters – 100% Kona Coffee

Hawaii Roasters Award Winning 100% Kona Coffee, Whole Bean, Medium Roast, 14-Ounce Bag

Coffee Features

  • Taste: Delicate And Mild
  • Roast: Medium Roast
  • Type: Whole Bean
  • Size: 14 oz. Bag

Review

The Hawaii Roasters coffee plantation is located in the Kona Coffee Belt, a two by a fifteen-mile stretch of ideal coffee-growing terrain.

Hawaii Roasters’ 100% Kona beans are handpicked and sun-dried for optimum freshness. Once the beans have dried, they’re roasted in small batches for a unique and delicious coffee experience.

You don’t need to worry about purchasing coffee that’s been sitting around for too long – your beans will be freshly roasted. You can buy the beans whole, pre-ground, or prepped in recyclable K-Cups compatible with Keurig brewers.

Bottom Line

These medium roasted Kona beans give you the best of both worlds – the artisanal roasting process produces a silky smooth and light cup of coffee, while the 100% Kona beans have a low-acid brew most anyone can enjoy.

Blue Horse – Farm-fresh 100% Kona Coffee

Farm-fresh: 100% Kona Coffee, Medium Roast, Whole Beans, 1 Lb

Coffee Features

  • Taste: Smooth With Light Citrus Finish
  • Roast: Medium Roast
  • Type: Whole Bean
  • Size: 16 oz. (1 LB (454g))

Review

Kona coffee can have a citrus finish, and the combination of dark roast and citrus may be too harsh for some coffee drinkers.

Blue Horse is a family-run farm where all the coffee comes from a single estate. The trees are shade-grown, which results in a sweeter taste and minimal acidity.

This coffee is not a Kona Blend or Kona Style! It’s genuinely made only with Kona berries grown in the coffee belt.

Your beans, following the careful harvest and selection process, will be roasted in small batches before packaging and shipping to your home. Your coffee is shipped in a zip lock bag, so your beans stay fresh at all times.

Bottom Line

This 100% Kona Blue Horse medium roast is an excellent option for pure Kona coffee drinkers. This roast is hearty enough to bring out the coffee’s rich flavor without adding a bitter edge.

Starbucks – Private Reserve 100% Kona Coffee

Starbucks 100% Kona Coffee Medium Roast 8.8 Oz Whole Bean

Coffee Features

  • Taste: Citrusy With Notes Of Nutty-Caramel
  • Roast: Medium Roast
  • Type: Whole Bean
  • Size: 8.8 Ounces

Review

Starbucks is a top-rated provider of Kona coffee, and Kona blends. Their Kona Private Reserve 100% Parry Estate Coffee is a very high-quality Kona coffee made with peaberry coffee beans.

It boasts a citrusy, floral aroma and a sweet, nutty-caramel flavor and is sourced from a well-established plantation situated at a very high altitude on the slopes of Mauna Loa.

This coffee is carefully cultured, gathered, and prepared for optimum flavor and freshness. It has a delightful and balanced flavor that I think everyone can appreciate.

Bottom Line

You may be able to find a Starbucks near you that offers Starbucks Kona Private Reserve coffee by the cup. This is a great way to sample it before ordering a bag of coffee beans for home.

Keala’s Hawaiian Coffee

Coffee Features

  • Taste: Bright And Sweet
  • Roast: Medium Roast
  • Type: Whole Bean
  • Size: 8 oz.

Review

Made only from extra fancy grade Kona beans from several small farms on Hualalai’s slopes, the main flavor notes are bright and fruity, with Keala boasting, there are hints of toasted coconut.

As the name suggests, Keala’s Hawaiian Coffee brand offers coffee products grown all over the islands, not just in the Kona band.

This brand was created by Sean Lee, owner of a Seattle craft roasting coffee house. You can be sure that your Hawaiian coffee is an authentic artisan product.

If you enjoy Kona and would like to branch out, consider trying one of the other delicious Hawaiian coffee blends.

The rich volcanic soil of the islands lends itself to the coffee plant, so you can be sure that your coffee will have gotten a great start in life. The low acid content is perfect for coffee lovers who have gastric issues.

Bottom Line

This medium roast is not too strong and has a delightfully silky body. The flavor profile is bright and sweet – although, if you like a bit of extra oomph to your coffee, it may be a little too laid back for you.

Greenwell Farms – 100% Full City Roast Kona Coffee

Greenwell Farms - 100% Kona Coffee - Full City Roast - 8oz - WHOLE BEAN

The Details | 100% Kona

  • Taste: Nutty With Notes Of Vanilla, Chocolate, And Citrus
  • Roast: Full City Roast
  • Type: Ground
  • Size: 8 oz.

Review

Greenwell Farms is right in the heart of the Kona district and has been maintained by the Greenwell family for over 200 years! The coffee produced here is roasted and packaged on the very same farm that it’s grown.

This extra fancy Kona has a deep and fruity taste with a mouthfeel reminiscent of syrup. You may detect hints of chocolate and caramel with an afterthought of citrus from this fantastic bean.

Bottom Line

If the mild, full flavor of Hawaiian coffee appeals to you, you can be confident that your Greenwell Estate kona beans have been handled with the utmost care.

How To Choose The Best Kona Coffee Beans – Buying Guide

What To Look For

When purchasing Kona coffee, it pays to do your homework. Consider the background and history of the plantations whose products you are considering purchasing.

Kona Coffee Beans

With a solid tradition of producing high-quality, pure Kona coffees, well-established farms are the only ones you can trust if you truly seek genuine Kona flavor.

Be aware that Kona “blends” are usually low-quality mixes with a low percentage of actual Kona coffee. In Hawaii, blends are required to have at least 10% Kona or more.

Before you buy Kona coffee online, here are a quick list of what to look for:

  1. The brand or company has farmed on estates in Hawaii.
  2. The coffee is 100% Kona and not a blend from other regions.
  3. Labeling and coffee certifications check out. Beware of scams and fake credentials.
  4. Determine how long it takes from roasting to your doorstep. The quicker, the better.
  5. Check reviews to see what others are saying (see our recommended brands below).

Are you a picky coffee drinker? Because Kona is expensive than your best grocery store coffee, buy a single bag your first time.

What Is Special About Kona Coffee?

Kona coffee is one of the most esteemed coffee varieties on earth. It’s highly desirable, therefore a tad expensive, but delivers supreme and distinctive aromas that will have your mouth watering the minute you open a packet.

Coffee Plantation in the Kona District

Grown exclusively in the north and south areas of the Kona district on the big island of Hawaii, the coffee trees nurtured here thrive in the rich volcanic soils on the slopes of the Hualalai and Mauna Loa volcanoes.

The microclimate on these two mountains provides sunny mornings, misty afternoons, and mild nights – perfect conditions for growing coffee.

Although Hawaii has a fantastic climate for coffee production – due to the fertile, volcanic earth and abundance of sun and rain – only coffee grown in the Kona district can be officially classified as Kona coffee.

Kona has around 600 small, independent coffee plantations, most of them family-run. It is estimated there is only a total of approximately 2290 acres of farms, producing about two million pounds of coffee annually.

This makes Kona coffee a highly-limited commodity, with a cap on how much is available every year.

Picking Kona Coffee Berries

Forget mass-production and automation – the farmers painstakingly handpick Kona coffee beans.

Not all coffee “cherries” (seeds or beans) ripen at the same time, so handpicking beans enables harvesters only to select the beans that are perfectly ripe and ready.

Kona coffee beans are processed using a ‘wet-method,’ where the beans are fermented for around 12-24 hours and rinsed in freshwater before being laid out in the sun to dry.

What Is The Best 100% Kona Coffee?

The best of the best comes in the form of the peaberry coffee beans. They have higher moisture content and far fewer imperfections than even Kona Extra Fancy beans.

These beans are randomly produced by nature and are very rare. Only about 3-5% of Kona coffee beans grown are peaberries.

Kona Peaberry Coffee | The Best 100% Kona Coffee

We recommend getting your hands on the Koa Coffee Peaberry Kona Roast Style Duo Pack. This bundle includes a bag of each medium and dark roast. It’s expensive, but you get what you pay for, and you can gift one to a friend.

Splash out and treat yourself to what most fans describe as the best coffee they’ve ever experienced.

Peaberry beans roast beautifully and produce smooth, full-bodied coffee and have a bit of a bite! It’s no wonder that coffee connoisseurs call Kona peaberry coffee “Kona Champagne.”

Peaberries are in high demand, so you should be prepared to pay the price.

Related | Best Peaberry Coffee

Best Kona Coffee Brands

Here are our top 5 favorite Kona coffee brands to choose from:

KOA Coffee

The Koa Coffee Plantation has been in business since 1997. Established and run by the Artukovich family, it was later sold to Kona’s Best Natural Coffee – known as Koa Coffee Plantation.

The source coffee plantation rests on the Mauna Loa slopes in Hawaii’s “Kona coffee belt.”

Today, Koa Coffees is a worldwide sensation produced with top-of-the-line equipment and carefully vacuum-sealed to bring a rich, fresh-roasted aroma straight to you.

Koa Coffee is all about the smoothness, full flavor, a high-quality and exquisite balance of these offerings.

Related | Types Of Coffee Roasts

Volcanica Coffee

Volcanica Coffee Company launched in 2005 to provide coffee fans access to high-altitude coffees grown in volcanic soil. They offer coffee from all over the globe.

As we’re often concerned about the coffee farmer’s wages, Volcanica assures us that they pay fair-trade coffee prices that exceed their base costs.

The gourmet coffees offered by Volcanica are not blends but pure, mountain-grown beans, often from a single farmer or family of coffee bean producers.

Hawaii Coffee Company

Royal Kona Coffee is a Hawaiian tradition, having gotten its start in 1968. The Hawaii Coffee Company is the largest Kona coffee roaster worldwide, and its coffees are phenomenally popular in stores, restaurants, and hotels throughout the islands.

All the beans are sourced from their plantations.

Blue Horse

Blue Horse Kona coffee is produced without the use of pesticides or herbicides.

The Blue Horse Coffee Plantation is located on the Big Island of Hawaii, down the slope from the Mauna Loa and the Mauna Kea volcanoes. The old lava deposits from these volcanoes provide coffee growers (and coffee drinkers) an ideal soil for coffee plants.

The mountainous conditions require that all planting, tending, and harvesting be done by hand.

After each harvest, these coffee fruits are washed, sorted, and air-dried before roasting to ensure that the beans sold by Blue Horse are simply the best pick of each harvest.

Buddha’s Cup

Buddha’s Cup coffee is grown on the big island of Hawaii. Their coffee plants, Buddha’s Sanctuary, thrive at 2200-feet in lush volcanic soil, sheltered and shaded by macadamia nut trees.

They’re well known for their UVB Light Infused Coffee, which uses the latest light technology that they’ve developed and invested in to enhance their coffee flavor.

The different use of technology increases the price of their special edition coffee dramatically. Still, their other offerings fit the bill, which is why we feel comfortable recommending them as one of the best.

Kona Coffee FAQs

What Does Kona Coffee Taste Like?

You have to taste this coffee to understand its unique subtleties.

You can count on Kona to be smooth, rich, sweet, and flavorful, with citrus or nutty aftertaste. It’s ever so slightly acidic and has a delectable aroma. Some experts describe the flavor as “winey” or “spicy.”

The premium peaberry Kona bean, even more exclusive and rare, is described as having a smooth, chocolate flavor.

Sipping a cup of premium Kona coffee is unlike drinking coffee of any other type because it is simultaneously a relaxing and energizing experience.

What Is Kona Blend Coffee?

Kona blends are not made up of 100% Kona coffee, but a mixture of Kona and origin coffees from other countries such as Colombia or Brazil.

The minimum Kona content that blends must have by law to use the Kona label is 10%.

Don’t be fooled into buying a packet only because it claims a Kona blend – it’s likely to be the inferior quality with only a sprinkling of real Kona coffee beans, and you won’t get authentic Kona flavors and aromas.

Is Kona Coffee Arabica Or Robusta?

Kona coffee is an Arabica coffee species that is grown in higher altitudes. There are between 25 and 100 species of Arabica coffee trees, ranging in size, shape, and color.

Why Is Kona Coffee So Expensive?

Coffee Arabica is descended from the first-ever coffee trees in Ethiopia and is well-known for producing premium coffee with around 50-60 percent more caffeine than the Robusta varieties.

That is why Arabica is considered to be much better quality and fetches a higher price.

Because Kona coffee is one of the finest Arabica species, it is also one of the most expensive.

Final Thoughts

We hope our reviews of the best Kona coffee and buying guide helps you make a delicious decision.

Still undecided? If we had to choose a single top pick, we would select the Koa Coffee Tri-Pack Sampler Collection. While it might be a great gift idea, it also allows you to explore various Kona coffees without the added costs of purchasing them separately.