All Kona coffees are not alike. Saying that all Kona coffees are the same is like saying all wine from Napa is the same. There are bad, average, good, and extraordinary wines in Napa. The same holds true for Kona coffee.
Coffee beans, like grapes, take on the “goût de terroir,” or taste of the land. Kona Coffee taste is affected by the elevation, soil, orientation to the sun, drainage, pruning, watering and fertilizing. Farms next door to each other often produce coffees which are dramatically different in quality and flavor.
Just as importantly, great coffee requires careful picking. Many farms pay their pickers by the pound. The result is that the pickers try to maximize their pay by picking unripe and over ripe beans along with the good beans. Hula Daddy pays its pickers by the hour to pick only red ripe coffee. It costs more because only picking ripe coffee is slower but we get the best beans for our coffee. We also sort the harvested fruit before it is pulped so that any beans that are damaged or not perfect won’t wind up in our roasted coffee.
Coffee can be ruined by poor processing. Premium coffee beans have to be pulped, fermented, washed, dried, hulled, graded, sorted and stored perfectly to create an outstanding cup of coffee. We monitor each step of the process to make sure that the beans are at their best. At each stage we sort out bad beans. We don’t throw them away – we sell them to large coffee distributors for their discount labels.
Buy Kona Coffee from the Actual Grower
Coffee typically passes through three or four different companies before getting to the consumer. Each distributor moves and stores the coffee. Each move delays the time it takes to get to you, sometimes months, sometimes years.
If you buy direct, you reduce the chance of poor shipping and storage. The only person who can honestly vouch for the purity and quality of the coffee is the person who grew it.
Buy Fresh Grown Coffee Beans
Ask when the coffee beans were grown. Most coffee is brewed from beans that were grown years before. Even if the coffee is “fresh roasted” the beans may still be old. Fresh roasted old coffee is still old coffee. Gourmet Kona Coffee is brewed from this year’s crop. You don’t drink wine made from old grapes and you shouldn’t drink coffee made from old coffee beans.
Buy Kona Coffee Beans from Someone who is Passionate
Growing coffee is like growing wine grapes. Great wines come from vineyards where the workers are passionate about the wine. Great coffee comes from plantations where the grower is passionate about quality. Farmers who care about their coffee are excited and interested. Farmers and distributors who are out to make a buck don’t want to waste their time. Talk to the grower – expect their coffee to reflect their passion.
Two years ago we won both the Kona Cupping Competition and the Hawaii Cupping Competition. Last year we came in second in the Hawaii Cupping Competition. This year we won the Kona Coffee Cupping Competition again. In December 2016, Coffee Review rated our Laura’s Reserve SL-28 as the third best coffee of 2016.
Try different Kona coffees. Talk to the person who grew those coffees. Great tasting Kona coffee comes from farmers who want to talk to you, about their coffee, how they produce it and why they are proud of it.