Short on time? Our top choice is the Royal Kona Estate Medium Roast Coffee.
Kona coffee is some of the absolute best in the world.
But finding the best Kona coffee is tough.
Not only because of how good it is but because there are so many scams out there.
In this article, I’ll go over my favorite Kona coffees.
I’ll even include a section on how to make sure you’re getting real Kona coffee and not getting scammed.
Let’s jump in!
Best Kona Coffee: Top 9 Picks
- Royal Kona Estate Medium Roast Coffee (Best Overall)
- KOA Coffee Kona Natural Medium Roast (Best Natural Process)
- KOA Coffee Kona Peaberry Medium Roast (Most Interesting Flavor)
- Hawaiian Lion 24K Gold Roast Kona Coffee (Best Light Roast)
- Private Reserve Dark Roast Kona Coffee (Best Dark Roast)
- Lion Coffee Gold Roast Decaf (Best Decaf Kona)
- Grande Domaine Vienna Roast Kona Coffee (Best for a Special Occasion)
- KOA Coffee Kona Estate Medium Roast (Best Medium Roast)
- Royal Kona Mountain Roast Kona Blend Coffee (Best Blended Kona)
Royal Kona Estate Medium Roast Coffee
This is my top choice for an introduction to Kona coffee.
Why is it a great introduction?
Well, it’s a high-elevation Kona coffee bean at a medium-light roast. Also, it isn’t blended.
The high elevation where this coffee was grown means that the beans themselves will be denser and have a ton of flavor.
The medium-light roast, as opposed to a medium roast, will have a brighter taste and be livelier than a purely medium roast.
A light roast will bring out more of the coffee’s natural characteristics.
To top it all off, this is a single estate, 100% Kona. That means that it comes from one farm in the Kona Coffee Belt. And it isn’t blended with other crops.
Being from one farm means that you get all the specific tastes and profiles of that coffee without sacrificing flavors.
The only downside is that there isn’t an option to buy a bigger bag.
This coffee is perfect for someone’s first Kona coffee or someone who wants a solid, no-nonsense Kona.
- This is a high-elevation Kona bean, which means that these beans are denser and have a richer flavor than lower-elevation coffees
- It’s a medium-light roast, which brings out a lively and bright-tasting Kona coffee
- This isn’t a blended Kona, meaning the rich flavors haven’t been diluted with other beans
- This coffee comes from one single estate, which keeps the flavors specific and crisp
- There isn’t an option to buy a bigger bag
KOA Coffee Kona Natural Medium Roast
If you’re anything like me, you enjoy a rounded, bold, and big-bodied coffee.
That’s this Kona Natural.
Naturally processed coffees are coffees that are left in the cherries while drying instead of separated from them.
What that does is impart the beans with more fermented flavors from the meat of the cherries. The result is a more interesting, bigger flavor profile in your cup.
Personally, I love naturally processed coffees.
This Kona has notes of stonefruit and dark chocolate to go along with the strong aromas. That makes this a great coffee for cream and sugar. It also means it tastes great no matter how you brew it.
Plus, it’s unblended. You’ll get a true Kona experience in every bag.
It’s also a medium roast, which balances out the flavors and keeps this coffee smooth.
The only thing to note is that naturally processed coffee can sometimes taste muddled or confusing.
- The natural processing means this coffee retains more of the flavors from the cherry, so it’s a fuller and more rounded profile
- Notes of stonefruit and dark chocolate mean this coffee is rich and has strong aromas, perfect for drinking with cream and sugar
- It’s 100% Kona coffee, which means this coffee wasn’t blended with non-Kona coffee
- It’s a medium roast, which means it is a smooth and balanced coffee
- Naturally processed coffees can sometimes taste muddled or confusing instead of crisp and bright
KOA Coffee Kona Peaberry Medium Roast
Okay, let’s talk about Peaberry coffee. Peaberry is a natural mutation in the coffee cherry where instead of producing two beans, it only produces one big one.
That’s called a peaberry.
Peaberry coffees are generally more flavorful and have a deeper body. However, peaberries are pretty rare. Like, only 3-5% of coffee beans are peaberries.
That makes this coffee extra fancy. And also super flavorful.
The medium roast of this coffee keeps it light enough to have a ton of flavor without sacrificing a smooth and balanced body.
Also, it’s not a blend. It would be easy to blend Kona peaberry coffee beans, but they don’t. That means you get a flavor bomb in every mug.
The washed processing of this coffee keeps the profile crisp and clear. That means you don’t need to worry about muddling the flavors of delicious peaberry beans.
Because of how rare peaberry beans are, this coffee gets pretty expensive. But it’s really worth it!
- Peaberry coffees have a ton of flavor, so this Kona Peaberry is like a flavor bomb in your mug
- The medium roast makes this coffee super smooth and balanced
- It’s 100% Kona, which means it is not a blend, so you get the full effect and taste of Kona coffee
- The washed process means this coffee stays crisp and delicious with every brew
- Because Peaberry coffee is rare, this coffee is a little expensive
Hawaiian Lion 24K Gold Roast Kona Coffee
Lion Hawaii coffee company has been around for a long time. Decades, in fact.
They know what they’re doing.
And this Kona is a staple in their lineup.
It’s a medium-light roast Kona, which means it is a little brighter and livelier than purely medium roast coffees.
But that means you get more interesting and unique flavors in your cup. The trade-off is that it doesn’t go as well with cream and sugar.
But if you ask me, it’s best to drink Kona coffee black anyway.
This coffee has a balanced body that isn’t too bright and not too heavy. It’s a perfect pour-over or cold brew Kona coffee.
This is another unblended Kona. You’ll get the full Kona profile from this coffee.
It’s slightly cheaper than other Kona coffees, so it’s a great first step into the world of Hawaiian coffee.
- The medium-light roast means this coffee is a little brighter than medium-roast Kona’s, so you get some more interesting and unique flavors
- It’s a 100% Kona coffee, which means the flavor profile is full and unblended
- It has a well-balanced body, not too bright and not too heavy, perfect for brewing pour-overs
- Lion has been around for a long time, so you can be sure this roaster is legitimate and quality
- The lighter roast sometimes doesn’t do so well with cream and sugar
Private Reserve Dark Roast Kona Coffee
No list of coffee is complete without a dark roast. After all, dark roasts are where the bold and smooth tastes are.
This Kona is my favorite dark roast Kona available.
It is super rich, smooth, and heavy-bodied. That all makes it the best coffee for drip machines, French presses, or espresso.
If you’re looking for an espresso Kona, I would actually recommend not getting a coffee that’s too dark. If you do, you’ll lose some of the unique Kona characteristics.
This coffee is unblended, which means you get all the profiles and flavors of Kona coffee without other types of coffee messing with your brew.
The thing is, though, that it is a blend of Kona coffees. I know that sounds confusing, but think of it as mixing two flavors of Gatorade instead of mixing Gatorade and Powerade.
The mix of Kona beans means there are some lower-quality Kona beans in there, but the roast balances everything out.
- The dark roast means there is less caffeine than a lighter roast, so it’s a perfect afternoon or evening coffee
- It’s all Kona coffee, so the flavors of the Kona coast aren’t diluted with outside coffees
- Because of the roast, this is a great coffee for drip brewers, French presses, or even espresso
- It’s a blend of coffee grades, so it’s not as high a quality as other 100% Kona coffees
Lion Coffee Gold Roast Decaf
To understand why I think this is the best decaf Kona, you have to understand how coffee gets decaffeinated.
There are two main ways: with chemicals and with water.
Using chemicals is cheap and quick, but takes all the flavor and uniqueness out of the coffee.
Using water is expensive and slow, but it means you still get incredible flavors and quality.
This is called the Swiss Water Process. And this Kona coffee uses it to decaffeinate the beans.
That means you get all the profiles and flavors of caffeinated Kona coffee without a bad chemical aftertaste.
Plus, it’s a light roast, so it’s bright and has notes of citrus. That makes it a great breakfast coffee. But it still goes well with cream and sugar.
The only thing is that they don’t use the highest-quality Kona beans for this, so you get what you pay for.
- The Swiss Water Process means this coffee retains a lot of the natural flavors that would be lost with a chemical decaffeination
- It’s a light roast decaf, so it is bright, lively, and has notes of citrus, making it a great breakfast coffee
- The mellow body means this coffee is versatile and goes well with cream and sugar
- Lion has been producing Kona decaf for a long time, so you can be sure they’ve nailed the process
- They don’t use the highest quality Kona beans for their decaf, so you get what you pay for
Grande Domaine Vienna Roast Kona Coffee
This Grande Domaine Kona was selected as a Kona Coffee Cupping contest winner.
What did it win for? Outstanding quality and balance.
It’s a blend of Kona beans and Kona peaberry beans, which are rare and delicious. That helps it stay balanced without losing flavor.
The Vienna roast is slightly darker than medium, which means you get a deeper flavor that retains a lot of the natural Kona profile.
But you do sacrifice some of the unique flavors of Kona peaberry beans in favor of a coffee that’s easy to brew and tastes great with cream and sugar.
It’s still from a single estate, though, so you get the profile that’s unique to this one farm.
The only thing is that pre-ground coffee will start to lose its flavor faster than whole-bean coffee that’s ground right before you brew.
- Selected as a Kona Coffee Cupping winner for outstanding quality and balance, so you can be sure this coffee is a great brew
- It’s a blend of regular and Peaberry Kona beans, which means the flavors come out strong and bold in your mug
- The Vienna roast is a touch darker than medium, meaning you get a slightly deeper flavor that retains a lot of the natural flavors of Kona coffee
- It’s from a single estate, meaning you get beans from one farm instead of a mix of farms
- Pre-ground coffee will lose its taste faster than whole-bean coffee that’s freshly ground before brewing
KOA Coffee Kona Estate Medium Roast
Medium roast coffee is perhaps the most versatile and easiest to brew.
You keep a lot of the flavors specific to the coffee’s origin while mellowing out some of the acidity and balancing out the body.
For that reason, I sometimes recommend coffee fans start with a medium roast when exploring a new region.
This medium roast Kona is a great example of a coffee that’s a perfect introduction to the Kona Coffee Belt.
It’s from a single estate in the region, which means it comes from one farm. So, you get a true Kona profile from each bag.
It’s a high-elevation coffee. That means that the beans themselves are of higher quality and taste better than those grown at a lower elevation.
The elevation also makes this coffee slightly sweeter and bolder. It’s perfect for drinking black or adding cream and sugar.
The only thing to note is that it’s pre-ground. That means it will start to lose its flavor faster than if you bought it whole bean.
- The medium roast showcases the quality of the beans and balances that with the roast, making a rich and smooth coffee
- It’s from a single estate in the Kona region, which means the beans come from one farm instead of being blended with beans from multiple farms
- It’s a high-elevation coffee, which means it will be slightly sweeter and bolder than coffees from lower elevations
- Pre-ground coffee loses its freshness faster than whole-bean coffee
Royal Kona Mountain Roast Kona Blend Coffee
So, yes, this Royal Kona coffee is a blend. Usually, I don’t recommend getting a blended Kona. But every now and then, it’s a good way to save some money and still get a delicious coffee.
Royal Kona Mountain coffee, in particular, is especially smooth and mellow. That makes it a great coffee, no matter how you brew it. It works in a drip machine as well as a pour-over.
Plus, it’s cheaper than unblended Kona coffees. That makes it a great option for an introduction to the Kona world without breaking the bank.
The Mountain Roast is just a fancier name for a medium roast. Medium roasts are great for keeping a smooth and mellow profile.
The only downside to a blended Kona is that you lose a crisp and rounded profile. Because there are other, non-Kona beans added, the Kona flavor itself will become muddled and cloudy.
- This Kona blend is actually a super smooth and mellow cup of coffee, especially for being a blend
- It’s cheaper than pure Kona coffees, but it has similar profiles and characteristics
- The Mountain Roast is a medium roast, which makes this coffee pair really nicely with cream and sugar
- You do lose some of the benefits of buying pure Kona coffee, so this coffee doesn’t taste as crisp and rich as a pure Kona
What Makes Kona Coffee So Special?
As with any crop grown around the world, there are specific conditions where coffee plants thrive.
These conditions include:
- Volcanic soil (rich in nitrates, phosphates, iron, and manganese)
- Steeper slopes for better drainage (so that the plants aren’t flooded)
- A mix of bright sun and shade (coffee thrives in the shade but needs some direct sun)
- High-elevation farms (upwards of 3,000 feet)
And the Kona Coffee Belt just so happens to check all of those boxes.
The result is a coffee that consistently scores highly on cupping tables.
Keep in mind, however, that price doesn’t always equal quality in the coffee world. It’s the same as with wine or spirits.
Take a really old and super rare bottle of wine, and you’ll find a huge price tag. But pop it open, and you might actually hate the taste.
Part of what makes Kona coffee so expensive and desirable is its relative scarcity. After all, there’s only so much land in Hawaii.
Add to that the rocky terrain, and Kona coffee has to be hand-picked instead of harvested with machines.
Those two factors also increase the price tag of a pound of Kona coffee.
Kona coffee is really good. The price might be bumped up a little because of scarcity, but the quality is there to back it up. I guarantee you’ll remember your first cup of Kona coffee forever.
How To Buy Kona Coffee
Because Kona coffee is so sought after and expensive, buying it can be tricky.
After all, I’m sure you want to make sure what you’re getting is up to the price tag.
In this section, let’s discuss how you can feel certain and comfortable with your purchase.
100% Kona Coffee Vs Kona Coffee Blend
You need to understand that 100% Kona coffee is super rare.
As in, there are only about 800 farms in the Kona region.
So getting a 100% Kona coffee is pretty special. But you can certainly find it out there.
And getting a blend isn’t the end of the world. It just means that there are about 10% beans from the Kona district mixed with beans from other parts of Hawaii.
It doesn’t mean that the coffee is that much worse than pure Kona. It only means that it’s been blended with other coffees.
It comes down to what exactly you’re looking for from a Kona coffee.
Are you looking for a pure and unique experience from your Hawaiian coffee? Then look for a 100% Kona coffee.
Are you looking for a more cost-effective Hawaiian coffee experience? Then getting a blended Kona coffee is more than acceptable.
100% Kona coffee is rare but worth it to know that every coffee bean comes from the Kona region. Blends are a fine way to get quality Hawaiian coffee without breaking the bank.
The Best Kona Coffee Brands
While there are a handful of Kona brands out there, it can be tricky to find the best Kona coffee brand.
Now, the real thing to consider is the range of roasts.
KOA Coffee and Hawaii Coffee Co are my two preferred Hawaii roasters.
They each have unique roasts and coffees. From single-estate coffees to Kona blends, these brands have been at this for a long time and are well worth the investment.
But, as with any high-quality item, you should do your own research. Look into these brands for yourself before you purchase any Kona coffee.
IN A NUTSHELL
Always look into brands for yourself, especially when the coffee you’re buying is rather expensive. But KOA Coffee and Hawaii Coffee Co are my two preferred brands.
How To Spot Scams
It’s no secret that scams involving Kona coffee have been around since the mid-1990s.
But how can you tell if the coffee you’re buying is a scam or not?
Look into the company you’re buying Kona beans from and look at where they are located, where they roast, and where they source their beans from.
Better yet, if you’re buying from a local shop, ask them to tell you about the coffee farm the Kona beans come from. If they can’t or won’t, chances are they are being dubious.
Only buy authentic Kona coffee beans from Hawaiian coffee companies. That means companies that are based in Hawaii, and that only sell Hawaiian coffee. That’s the best and easiest way to ensure you’re not being scammed.
My Final Thoughts
My top choice of best Kona coffee beans is still Royal Kona Estate Medium Roast Coffee.
The high elevation means this coffee is dense and tasty. It’s better than coffees grown at lower elevations.
The medium-light roast keeps the coffee interesting and lively. That means that your coffee won’t be flat or bland.
And it’s 100% Kona coffee, meaning that it hasn’t been blended or mixed with non-Kona beans.
It’s a great investment and a really solid purchase for any fan of Hawaiian coffee.
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