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Hawaiian Coffee Buying Guide: Ka'u Coffee vs Kona Coffee and More

Ever wonder what causes one coffee to taste different from another? Or of the flavor differences between Kona coffee vs Ka'u coffee? 

Let us give you a tour because that's what we're all about: celebrating Hawaii's diverse and special local coffees. Onward!Hawaii coffee regions


Kona is the state’s most recognized coffee region, commanding some of the highest prices in the world. One reason for the prices is that all Kona and Big Island coffees are hand-harvested. Another is that they are relatively rare, and everyone in the supply chain receives a living wage (that's why there's little purpose to having Fair Trade certifications within Hawaii. Read more about the cost behind Hawaiian coffee here). 

The variety ‘Kona Typica’ is most commonly grown and is responsible for the typical soft and lush Kona coffee profile.

Compared with other Hawaiian coffees, great Kona Typica variety coffees are usually smooth, sweet, and lightly floral with a delicate acidity. Often you'll have notes of stone fruit and cocoa butter. They're great for coffee lovers who prefer balance and drink their coffee black.

We offer 3-4 different Kona coffees at a time, but Kona Peaberry is the most popular for medium-light coffee lovers. At 94 points, it's rated as the highest-scoring Kona Peaberry, and also the top score for a traditional Kona coffee, meaning a washed Typica grown in Kona.

For those who love dark roasts, 100% Kona Moon is our most popular.


Ka'u coffees are fantastic and most often purchased by locals and aficionados who are 'in the know' because they typically cost less, and are just as good.  

Most farms are located 1500′ – 2100′ above sea level, exhibiting characteristics similar to many Central American coffees: a syrupy mouthfeel, complex acidity, with flavors and aromas of malt, citrus, berries, brown sugar, vanilla, and floral notes. The farmers of Ka'u also produce a wider variety of coffees, including caturra, maragogipe, yellow bourbon, pacamara, etc. So if you think of yourself as a coffee explorer, keep an eye on our line of Ka'u coffees. 

Compared with other Big Island coffees, Ka'u coffees tend to have brighter flavors (pineapple, blood orange, jasmine). For this reason, they're ideal for light roast coffee lovers.

At a darker roast, the citric tones become spicy with notes of pine and spruce. It's a great quality for those who prefer "robust" over "smooth" dark roasts.

Our most popular Ka'u coffees sell out very fast ( Ka'u Yellow Bourbon and Ka'u Maragogipe, for instance), but our Ka'u Wood Valley Single Estate is a popular staple and highly recommended. 


Our Puna and Hamakua coffees are rare to come by, and usually reserved for members of our Wild Hawaiian Coffees Club, so I won't spend much time describing them to you here, but in general...

Our Puna coffees have striking, intense, dramatic aromas, possibly due to the young volcanic cinder they grow in, in addition to enduring 200+ inches of rain annually. They're a stark departure from the typical profile of Hawaiian coffee, often with strong notes of almond, red wine and rose. 

Great Hamakua coffees are often deep and smooth, reflective of their deep rich soils. Nuts and chocolate are common tasting notes among Hamakua coffees. 
Hawaiian Coffee District Farm

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