Just like the Champagne grapes grown in the Champagne region of France, 100% Kona coffee can only be cultivated in a specific region of Hawaii: on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa in the North and South Kona Districts of the Big Island of Hawaii.
But unlike the Champagne designation, Kona coffees can comprise any coffee variety grown within the region, so long it achieves certain state regulated quality standards for Kona coffee (prime grade and above). In other words, to be labeled ‘Kona Coffee’, 100% of the coffee must be grown in the Kona district and must be above a certain quality level, but it can be any arabica coffee variety.
The Original Kona Coffee Variety: Kona Typica
The variety ‘Kona Typica’ is responsible for the soft, lush, chocolatey and floral profile that’s revered in 100% Kona coffee. We refer to this as being the heritage Kona style because Kona Typica is the same variety that's adapted to the environment since 1832.
Today, coffee growers are planting exotic varieties throughout Kona - SL28, Geisha, Bourbon, etc. While these aren’t the traditional Kona coffee varieties that made the Kona region famous, they present exciting new flavors and experiences for coffee lovers.
Know that the State of Hawaii doesn’t regulate coffee varieties in the same way as France regulates Champagne grape varieties, so if you’re a coffee lover on a quest for traditional Kona coffee, you’ll want to stick to Kona Typica. While many of the new varieties are dynamic and amazing, they’re also stark departures from the smooth, chocolatey, peachy traditional Kona Typica profile. We love them both.
Counterfeit & Blended Kona Coffee
If you’re looking for authentic 100% Kona coffee, you should also know that Federal laws don’t protect Kona coffee labeling, only Hawaii state laws do. That means that counterfeiting and mis-labeling is not protected outside of Hawaii, unfortunately. The best way to ensure you’re getting genuine Kona coffee is to purchase it from a reputable company that roasts and sells it within Hawaii.
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