Best Kona Coffee Beans (2022 Buying Guide)

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Hawaiian Kona coffee beans are the most sought-after coffee beans in the world. And for a good reason, they’re delicious! They have a mouth-watering aroma, deliciously smooth, rich flavor, and distinctive fruity profile.

But not all Kona coffee is created equal, and you may be misled when ordering. So, how do you know which beans to buy?

In this guide, I’ll discuss what makes Kona coffee special and why it’s such a popular choice among coffee lovers. Plus, I’ll share some tips and advice on buying the best Kona coffee beans from authentic sources.

Our Favorite Kona Coffee Picks Available

Why Choose 100% Kona Coffee And Not Blends

You should always choose 100% Kona coffee and avoid blends because Kona “blends” are usually low-quality mixes with a low percentage of actual Kona coffee.

In fact, Hawaiian regulation requires blends to have at least 10% Kona or more, but not all coffee sold as Kona outside of Hawaii respects these regulations.

Kona Coffee Beans

Kona blends have a different flavor profile than pure kona coffee. You won’t understand the difference if you’ve never drank 100% Kona coffee.

Once you’ve tasted a brewed a cup of Kona coffee, I think you’ll agree that it’s worth paying the premium price to a reputable brand.

What We Look For In A Kona Coffee Bean

There are several things to look for to make sure you’re getting a legitimate and quality product.

Legitimacy

Coffee Plantation in the Kona District
  • The coffee should be 100% Kona from the Big Island of Hawaii.
  • The coffee should have a certificate of analysis (COA) from an independent lab to verify that it is indeed 100% Kona coffee. Not all brands will ship a copy.

Quality

  • They should be roasted and shipped with minimal time in-between and packaged in an airtight bag.
  • The beans should be sorted and sold by grade. Mixed grades are acceptable, but we prefer being able to choose.
  • No blends that include coffee from other world regions.

More About Grading

There are five different Kona coffee grades: extra fancy, fancy, #1, select, and prime. Peaberries are unique and can be categorized above “Extra Fancy.”

The two main factors that affect grade are bean size and defects. The largest and most perfectly formed beans will be graded as extra fancy. In contrast, smaller, less uniform beans will be graded as Number 1 or Prime.

Peaberry beans have higher moisture content and far fewer imperfections than extra-fancy beans. And only about 3-5% of Kona coffee beans grown are peaberries because they are randomly produced by nature.

Picking Kona Coffee Berries

Peaberry beans produce smooth, full-bodied coffee and have a bit of a bite! Coffee connoisseurs often call Kona peaberry coffee “Kona Champagne.” The price reflects the demand and limited availability.

Best Kona Coffee Beans And Brands

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)

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.

Great Hawaiian Coffee Options That Didn’t Make The List

The following Kona coffees didn’t make our list because of their availability this time around. We’ll update and include them in our top picks once buying options are available.

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 - Arabica Whole Beans - 1 Lb or 16 oz Bag - Blue Horse 100% Kona Coffee from Hawaii

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, Whole Bean Coffee, 8oz - Silky bodied, sweet aroma with notes of fruit, roasted nuts, and caramel

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.

Written By Tara Williams

Tara is a food writer that has been editing and authoring articles for KitchenSanity since its founding. Her writing offers personal experience from experimentation with food and recipe creation. If you’re looking for simple tips, she will make your journey in the kitchen straightforward with a dash of fun.