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Guide to The Best Kona Coffee Beans (and where to buy them)

If you love coffee you have probably heard of Kona. Considered one of the best gourmet coffees in the world, Hawaiian Kona coffee is a smooth, rich, complex and deeply aromatic coffee.

To help you choose the best Kona coffee beans, in this article we share the best Kona coffee brands to try, plus we explain how to make sure you are purchasing pure 100% Kona coffee.

If you have never tried these gourmet coffee beans, you are in for a treat!

>> Click here to see the best Kona coffee from Hawaii now

Best Kona Coffee Beans 2021 Comparison

Below is a handy table where you can see all the best 100% pure Kona coffee bean brands reviewed in this guide.

Read on as we discuss the features in more detail in our Hawaiian Kona coffee review section below. 

What Is Kona Coffee?

Kona beans are highly prized arabica coffee beans grown on the slopes of two volcanoes in the Gold Belt of the Kona District on Big Island, Hawaii.

Kona Coffee District Hawaii Map

Just 30 miles long by 2-3 miles wide, the famous coffee belt includes both North and South Kona on the west coast of Big Island. 

Gourmet Kona coffee beans are perfect for your french press, chemex or drip coffee makers and some of the darker roasts are good for espresso too.

They are also one of the most expensive coffee types in the world.

Our Top Pick For The Best Hawaiian Kona Coffee Beans

Koa Coffee Estate Medium Roast Best Hawaii coffee

Koa Coffee Estate Medium Roast

Koa Coffee produce some of the best Kona coffee in Hawaii and are shipped direct from the farm.

They produce a range of premium and super premium Kona coffees, and the Estate Medium Roast is one of the best examples of this style of coffee. 

>> Click here to buy now or read on for our full review.

Why Are Kona Brands So Special?

Coffee production is only successful in a limited number of regions around the world. The reason for this is that coffee plants need the right combination of sun, rain and quality soil to produce great tasting coffee.

What makes Kona Hawaii coffee so highly prized is that this coffee belt has all the critical factors to produce the best tasting gourmet coffee including:

  • Nutrient rich volcanic soil on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa volcanoes.
  • Little need for irrigation due to high rainfall.
  • Well drained slopes for ideal coffee growing conditions.
  • The perfect island microclimate of warm sunny days, humid wet afternoons and mild overnight temperatures.

Few coffee growing regions in the world can tick all these boxes and this is what makes Hawaiian Kona beans so special.

Plus, when you combine these climatic factors with strict quality controls, hand cultivation and generations of family run business experience, the result is not only the best coffee in Hawaii, it is world famous quality coffee.

What Does Kona Taste Like?

Kona is renowned for being a highly aromatic, smooth, rich, sweet and medium bodied coffee.

The flavor notes will vary by farm, but many describe their roasts having flavors such as citrus, honey, caramel and chocolate. The aftertaste is often nutty without the bitterness found in many coffee roasts.

It is also considered a low-acidity coffee, which is great for digestion.

Growing Kona Coffee
A full bag of coffee beans. Credit: Christopher Michel – Growing Kona CoffeeCC BY 2.0Link

What Is The Best Kona Coffee Brand?

So how do you find the best brand of Kona coffee? It is worth noting that just because coffee is grown in the Kona region, doesn’t automatically mean it will taste great.

Differences in the quality of the soil, growing and production techniques as well as roasting methods produce distinctly different coffees. 

To help you choose the best Hawaiian Kona coffee beans, we have reviewed some of the top 100% pure Kona coffee brands here. 

Choose from this list and you can be confident you are buying the best quality pure Kona coffee.

Best Kona Coffee In Hawaii Reviews

All of our best Kona coffee reviews are for 100% Kona whole bean coffee.  

Some companies do sell ground coffee, but honestly, if you are paying top dollar for pure Kona, you need to grind those beans at home to appreciate the unique taste of Kona and to achieve the best tasting coffee. 

Hawaii Coffee Company Royal Kona Coffee Review

Royal Kona Estate Coffee Beans

Medium roast

Extra fancy grade

Single estate origin

Shipped direct from the farm

Decaf and Peaberry available

Hawaii Coffee Company is the largest Kona coffee maker in the world and one of the best Hawaiian coffee brand choices. With a number of brands under their banner, the Royal Kona Private Reserve Estate is one of the top rated Kona coffee options.

Royal Kona coffee is medium roast but has a light, clean, lively taste unlike some other Kona roasts. Extra Fancy Grade and hand-picked from a single estate, it has a distinct aroma and smooth finish and is one of the best 100% Kona coffee options.

It is great for any style of coffee, but if you love to make black coffee in your French Press or Chemex, this is a great choice.

Where to buy Royal Kona? Hawaii Coffee Company sell Royal Kona coffee whole beans direct from the farm.

>> Click here to check the price and order direct

Koa Coffee Estate Medium Roast Kona Coffee Review

Koa Coffee Estate Medium Roast Coffee

Medium roast

Single estate origin

Shipped direct from the farm

Wide range of roasts available

KOA Coffee company was founded in 1997 and has rapidly established itself as a leading Kona brand growing some of the best coffee in Kona.

Koa Kona coffee have a range of awards under their belt including Forbes best Kona coffee in America. They are renowned as one of the best Hawaiian coffee brands and they produce some of the best pure Kona coffee roasts. 

The Estate Medium Roast coffee comes from a single high elevation farm and has a rich and smooth flavor with a subtle sweetness and very little bitterness.

Read any Koa Coffee review and you will see they have many happy customers. It is a great choice for your pour over, french press or cold brew coffee maker and makes a great gift for your coffee loving friend too (or yourself!).

>> Click here to check the price and order direct from the farm

Hawaiian Lion 24k Gold Roast Kona Coffee Review

Lion Hawaiian coffee company coffee beans hawaii

Medium-light roast

Multi-estate origin

Best for pour over

This medium light roast by Lion Coffee is much loved by many coffee lovers. They have been roasting in Hawaii since 1969 and are part of the Hawaii Coffee Company.

The best coffee beans from the Kona coffee harvests are selected to use in their Kona coffee. They are one of the more affordable Kona beans and a great choice for anyone wanting to try a top rated Kona coffee. 

The taste is light, smooth and highly aromatic and it makes a superb cup of coffee.

Many Kona coffee roasts are on the lighter side, so you will appreciate the flavors most with manual or drip style brews.

>> Click here to check the price and read more reviews

Koa Coffee Peaberry Medium Roast Kona Coffee Review

Koa Coffee Peaberry Hawaii Coffee Beans

Medium roast

Exclusive peaberry coffee

Shipped direct from the farm

Wide range of roasts available

For those searching for premium Hawaiian coffee, the Koa Peaberry beans are considered by many to be the best Kona Peaberry coffee beans in Hawaii.

This medium roast has a smooth, well balanced, crisp flavor and a sweetness often seen in Peaberry coffee.

It is perfect for your french press or cold brew coffee maker and is a great choice for black coffee drinkers.

The ultimate in luxury, this gourmet coffee is one of the best Kona peaberry coffee options and makes a great gift for the coffee lover. 

Where to buy Koa Coffee? Koa Peaberry coffee demand often outstrips supply. The best place to buy Koa coffee beans is direct from the farm. 

It isn’t cheap, but it is worth trying at least once, so you should grab a bag when it is available.

>> Click here to check the price and order direct from the farm

Volcanica Coffee Hawaiian Kona Coffee Review

Volcanica Kona coffee beans

Medium roast

Extra fancy grade

Single estate origin

Peaberry available

Shipped direct from Volcanica

Volcanica Kona coffee is a premium extra fancy grade 100% Kona coffee shade grown on the Greenwell Estate in Hawaii.

It is a super smooth full bodied brew with a rich buttery flavor and an interesting mix of floral notes and caramel undertones.

Roasted in Atlanta, Georgia, this whole bean Kona coffee it is one of the best Kona coffee from Hawaii.

You can buy Volcanica on Amazon, but we recommend purchasing direct from the company when buying premium Kona to guarantee maximum freshness.

>> Click here to check the price direct from Volcanica

Kona Gold Coffee Whole Beans Review

Kona Gold Run Co Kona Coffee Beans

Medium-dark roast

Extra fancy grade

Single estate origin

Air roasted

Award winning coffee beans

Kona Gold Rum Co product award winning Full City roast Extra Fancy grade beans grown at high elevation in Kealakekua in Hawaii.

The beans are wet-method processed and air roasted to preserve the bright crisp flavors.

With notes of citrus and peach and tones of molasses and brown sugar, this is a smooth and mellow blend of coffee that is perfect for drip, french press and pour over coffee brewing.

Kona Gold Rum Co are a popular choice on Amazon and often sell out – so grab them when they are available!

>> Click here to check the price and read more reviews

Keala’s Hawaiian Coffee Review

Keala's Hawaiian Kona Coffee Beans

Medium roast

Extra fancy grade

Multi-estate origin

Best for French Press

Seattle based roaster

Keala’s Hawaiian Kona coffee comes from the slopes of Holualoa on the Big Island of Hawaii and is sourced direct from the top 20% of all beans grown in Kona.

Beans are fresh picked and hand processed then freshly roasted in small batches in Seattle. Grown chemical free, these extra fancy grade beans are the best of the best.

The taste is well balanced with a smooth, pleasant body and hints of toasted coconut and passionfruit.

Great to brew in your French Press or Pour Over, Keala’s Kona coffee is a popular choice, so don’t delay as it sells out fast!

>> Click here to check the price and read more reviews

Blue Horse Kona Coffee Review

Blue Horse Kona Coffee Beans

Medium roast

Estate grade

Single estate origin

Dark roast available

Pesticide and herbicide free

Shipped direct from the farm

Blue Horse Kona coffee beans are a mellow medium roast 100 percent Kona coffee. It is naturally low in acidity with spicy afternotes.

Blue Horse has a lighter flavor so is best for french press, cold brew or chemex coffee drinkers. For espresso drinkers we recommend the dark roast.

One of the best Kona coffee on Amazon options, it is often out of stock due to high demand, so if it is available, don’t delay your purchase!

When you buy online, Amazon manage delivery with priority UPS shipping. Delivery is direct from Hawaii and takes only 2-3 days!

>> Click here to check the price and read more reviews

Imagine Kona Coffee Beans Review

Imagine Kona Organic Coffee Beans

Medium-dark roast

Extra fancy grade

Single estate origin

Air roasted

Peaberry available

Imagine Kona coffee beans are a medium-dark Full City roast grown at high elevation and sun dried, derived from Extra Fancy grade beans.

Kona by Imagine is air roasted instead of drum roasted. This reduces the risk of charring and contributes to the sweet, robust flavor noted in this authentic Kona coffee. It lacks the bitterness associated with many dark roast coffees.

Imagine is a good choice if you are looking for quick delivery of Kona extra fancy coffee beans direct from Amazon.

>> Click here to check the price and read more reviews

Why Is Kona Coffee So Expensive?

In addition to the highly valued taste of this gourmet coffee, the high price tag is also higher due to a number of factors relating to their production:

  1. The Kona region only has ~800 coffee farms, most on small acreages.
  2. Coffee is hand picked in small batches at peak ripeness during the year.
  3. Labor costs are higher on Kona coffee farms.
  4. Total yield is low due to the small number of farms and slow maturation period.

The combined result of a superior quality coffee in low quantities and high demand is a high price.

Hawaiian Coffee Grades Explained

The State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture overseas strict standards to grade Kona beans. We summarise the grades here to help you choose between the different the brands.

There are two types of coffee bean.

Type 1 is your typical double coffee bean. It contains 2 beans per cherry. The quality is assessed based on the size, shape, moisture content and purity of the bean.

There are eight grades for Type 1:

  1. Extra Fancy (the highest quality)
  2. Fancy
  3. Number 1
  4. Select
  5. Prime
  6. Number 3
  7. Natural Prime
  8. Mixed Natural Prime (the lowest quality)

Whilst all of the top 5 grades will produce a quality coffee, the best rated Kona coffee is the Extra Fancy Kona coffee. Kona extra fancy beans are the ultimate in quality and will cost more than the other grades.

Type 2 beans are also known as Peaberry coffee beans. These have just 1 bean per cherry and make up only 5% of all beans. 

Type 2 has two grades:

  1. Number 1
  2. Prime

Kona coffee peaberry beans are the champagne of the Hawaiian coffee world and naturally command the highest price.

Peaberry coffee beans have a higher moisture content, less defects and produce a smooth, full bodied coffee considered to be one of the best tasting coffees in the world.

Best Hawaiian Kona Coffee Brands - Kona Coffee Cherries

Are You Buying Real Kona Coffee?

Due to the premium price and value placed on Kona coffee, you need to be wary as there are many Kona blend coffee brands out there. Many Hawaiian coffee brands are not 100% pure Kona coffee.

A Kona blend coffee needs to include just 10% Kona coffee beans. They are often priced higher than other great espresso beans like these ones but a blend is not 100% Kona and it will have a different flavor to the real deal.

It is often difficult to tell at first glance when you buy Kona coffee beans whether it is genuine Kona coffee, or a Kona coffee blend.

Here are some tips to ensure you are buying 100% Kona coffee in Hawaii:

  • Labelling: Genuine Kona will be labelled as 100% pure Kona. Coffee blends will not. In fact they often avoid mentioning it at all.
  • District: Confirm it is grown in the Kona Hawaii district.
  • State: Check the coffee is Hawaiian coffee. Many companies will name their foreign coffee as Kona or Hawaiian coffee to trick the unknowing consumer.
  • Grade: Expect to pay a premium for Peaberry and Extra Fancy Kona coffee beans. If you are looking for the top rated Kona coffee beans, the grade will usually be listed on the packaging.

Where To Buy Kona Coffee Beans

Kona beans are more difficult to find than your everyday coffee beans but the good news is you can buy many Kona brands online (although it is also a great excuse for a Hawaiian vacation!).

For some Kona coffee brands including our favorites, Koa Coffee and Hawaii Coffee Company you need to order direct from the farm. This is the best place to buy Kona coffee online for guaranteed freshness.

On Amazon Kona coffee brands include Blue Horse and Imagine.

We recommend you purchase from the producer through Amazon where possible to ensure maximum freshness. And of course be wary of the blends when you are browsing through options.

How To Order Kona On Amazon

The easiest way to ensure you never run out of genuine Kona coffee beans is to order Kona coffee online through Amazon Prime.

If you aren’t yet signed up to Amazon Prime you can sign up for a 30 day trial here. With free two day delivery, you can have the best espresso beans delivered straight to your door anytime.

Whichever way you decide to purchase your coffee we hope you enjoy one of the best Hawaiian coffee beans on our list. But be warned, it may be hard to go back once you have tried one of the best coffees in the world!

More coffee bean reviews

Find all our coffee bean reviews here. For tips on coffee brewing, see our brew guides here.

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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Coffee beans closeup with text best kona coffee beans
Kona Coffee Beans and the best Kona coffee brands
About Rachel R

Founder of Creators of Coffee, Rachel is a passionate coffee lover, SCA member and former barista, who also loves to research and share practical tips on everything to do with coffee. Favorite way to make coffee: With an Espresso Machine