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5 Best Kona Coffee Brands That Live Up to the Hype

As an avid coffee drinker, I've tried it all. Arabica. Robusta. Dark. Light. Iced. Blended. Some of it was horrible; some of it struck me blind with deliciousness.

My absolute favorite, however, is Kona coffee.

Quick Summary - Our Top Kona Coffee Picks

If you're in a hurry, here is a quick overview of our top picks. All these are true 100% Kona. 

Keala's Hawaiian Coffee
  • Imported directly from the Hawaiian coast
  • Good price
  • Smooth medium blend
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Volcanica Coffee - Hawaiian Kona
  • Extra fancy grade
  • Smooth and mellow roast
  • Available as both whole beans and grounds
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Koa Coffee Kona
  • Award-winning brand
  • Three different bags of coffee beans
  • No quality compromises with "blends" or "mixes"
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Royal Kona (Hawaii Coffee Company)
  • No bitterness before or after drinking
  • Light, fruity notes
  • Lush and regal experience
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Peaberry Coffee
  • Rare peaberry blend
  • Light, sweet and crisp flavor
  • No bitterness
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How to Choose the Best Kona Coffee Without Getting Ripped Off

Here are some tips on choosing high quality 100% Kona coffee without getting scammed.

kona coffee sack

What is Kona Coffee?

Kona coffee is harvested from the Kona district of Hawaii's biggest island. 

The weather there is extremely favorable for coffee growing; if you look up pictures, it's like something off a postcard. The hills are vibrantly green with soft grasses and dark soil. The land gets an equal amount of sun and rain, so it's never too hot and never too dry.

There are blue skies for most of the week, but the sun moves aside for light, refreshing showers every few days.

If that wasn't enough, many coffee farms are also located on the slopes of volcanoes like Hualalai and Mauna Loa. The beans are grown in dark, fertile soil that's packed with minerals and enriched by the earth and the shade.

Why Does This Matter?

As you've probably guessed, Kona coffee is the real deal. It offers high-quality beans grown in near-perfect conditions to create rich, flavorful roasts. It can get expensive, especially if you buy 100 percent pure Kona coffee beans, but it's worth the extra dollars.

Once you've tried Kona coffee, you'll never be able to choke down Starbucks again.

Where Can I Find True Kona Coffee?

Kona coffee isn't usually sold in supermarkets because of its rarity and purity. You might be able to find it from gourmet coffee shops or farmer's markets, but you should be careful about buying it from unknown vendors. You don't want to get ripped off.

Another option is finding it on the web. It's available from most major online retailers, including Amazon. They'll ship it to your door with a vacuum seal designed to keep it fresh until you're ready to brew.

What Else Do I Need To Know?

It's a common practice to sell "Kona blends" that are really something like 10 percent Kona coffee and 90 percent Colombian or Brazilian coffee.

best kona coffee

To avoid this, look for coffee brands that import their beans directly from Hawaii. Hawaiian law is strict about what gets labelled "Kona coffee," so if a company is getting their stuff straight from the source, they're legit.

Unfortunately, the rest of the world isn't that dedicated to the truthfulness of their labels. Some brands slap the Kona name on their coffee even when it contains zero Kona beans!

A glaring red flag is if the brand claims to be selling Kona coffee but makes no mention of Hawaii in their product or company description. If they were selling genuine Kona coffee, they'd be keen to prove it.

Another thing to watch out for is a brand talking about "Hawaiian flavors" without mentioning the Kona district.

Many parts of Hawaii aren't suitable for growing coffee at all; they're too hot or too wet. Some brands try to sell coffee from these lesser regions and pass it off as Kona coffee by invoking "the taste of Hawaii."

Long story short: If you want genuine Kona coffee, look for a label that mentions both "Kona" and "Hawaii." If they're really keen, they might also name-drop the Hualalai or Mauna Loa volcanoes.

kona coffee growing

Best Hawaiian Kona Coffee Brands - Our Favorite Picks

We've established the value of Kona coffee and talked about where to find it. Now it's time for me to get enthusiastic about my favorite brands!

I should disclaim right away that these aren't the only worthwhile Kona coffee brands out there. They're just my personal favorites. Whether for taste, roast, aroma or price, they're the Kona coffee brands that I keep coming back to again and again.

Let's get started!

The single best thing about Keala's Hawaiian Coffee is that it's 100 percent genuine Kona coffee.

bean box kona coffee keala

PROS

  • Imported directly from the Hawaiian coast
  • Good price
  • Smooth medium blend

CONS

  • Lacks acidity

This smoothly-blended coffee is just what you need to get yourself going in the morning. It's a medium roast, so it isn't too overpowering, but it has a nice body that feels like silk all the way down.

The flavor profile of Keala's Hawaiian Coffee is bright and sweet. Most people report tasting fruity notes like coconut and passion fruit, but I've also detected a toasted twinge that grounds it and gives it depth.

There's very little acidity. This is great for people who are prone to gastric issues like heartburn and acid reflux; it won't be bitter enough to trigger any unpleasant symptoms. 

On the other hand, people who like their coffee to have a bit of a kick might be let down by the mellowness of Keala's Hawaiian Coffee. It all depends on your perspective.

It's harvested from the slopes of Holualoa and roasted in Seattle, and it isn't blended with any other type of bean. It even has the coffee grade of "extra fancy," which sounds made up but is a real way that coffee is evaluated and measured. When it's "extra fancy," it only comes from the top 20 percent of coffee cherries.

All things considered, you could do a lot worse than Keala's Hawaiian Coffee. It's genuine; it's nice and balanced; it has light, fun flavors. What more could you want in a cup of coffee?

What's the Bottom Line?

If you've never experienced the joy of Kona coffee, try Keala's Hawaiian Coffee. It's an excellent introduction to your new favorite coffee beverage.


volcanica hawaiian kona

PROS

  • Smooth and mellow roast
  • "Extra fancy" grade
  • Available as both whole beans and grounds

CONS

  • Pricey
  • Low acidity

As you might have guessed from the name, Volcanica Coffee comes straight from the eruptive terrain of Hawaii's volcanoes. But these sellers weren't content with a little plot of land at the foot of the cliffs! They went even higher with their coffee farms. Volcanica Coffee is grown and harvested at altitudes of 1,500 - 2,000 feet.

High altitudes are great for coffee plants because it delivers an increased amount of oxygen to them. What's more, Volcanica Coffee has also planted a lot of trees to protect their coffee cherries. As you're probably aware, shade-grown coffee is considered some of the best in the business. It's how organic coffee is grown.

To put it simply, Volcanica Coffee already has quite a few things going for it even before you open the bag and smell the beans. Once you break the seal, however, you'll realize that your coffee experience is just beginning!

Volcanica Coffee's Kona roast is rich, creamy and well-rounded. You can add milk or froth to make it even creamier. Do you like cappuccinos, macchiatos or piccolo lattes? This coffee can be used to create them all.

Not every coffee blend offers this kind of versatility, but Volcanica Coffee's Kona roast isn't like other coffee brands. From its altitude to its volcanic origins, it's entirely unique from harvest to cup.

What's the Bottom Line?

Volcanica Coffee is bred to perfection. You can actually taste the mountains when you prepare your morning cup of joe!


koa kona coffee tripack

PROS

  • Three different bags of coffee beans
  • Award-winning brand
  • No quality compromises with "blends" or "mixes"

CONS

  • Pricey

The Tripack comes with three different sample bags:

  • Grande Domaine
  • Private Reserve
  • Estate

While each of these samplers contains authentic, Hawaiian-grown Kona coffee beans, they were harvested in different places and have subtly different bodies and tastes.

For example, the "estate" pack coffee beans were grown on a private estate nestled on the Mauna Loa volcano. They weren't grabbed from the wild; they were carefully cultivated, sorted and hand-picked to go into your bag. It's a sign of dedication and excellence from Koa Coffee.

The Tripack is also a great way to sample three of the most popular flavors that Koa Coffee has to offer.

Koa Coffee is known for both its richness and its smoothness, so you won't be disappointed by experiencing its tastes in triplicate.

The one downside of the Tripack is that it comes with a hefty price tag. You have to pay for the privilege of ordering multiple bags of authentic Kona coffee beans.

The good news is that it's worth it! I love these beans, and I've converted many friends to the wonders of Koa Coffee with their sample packs. This one is a medium roast tripack, but they have one for dark roasts as well.

What's the Bottom Line?

If you're willing to splurge a little on a real coffee treat, the Koa Coffee Tripack will prove to you why it comes from a popular and award-winning brand.


royal kona coffee 100 percent

PROS

  • Light, fruity notes
  • No bitterness before or after drinking

CONS

  • Might be too light for some

The tagline for this brand is "coffee for royalty," and it's hard to argue with that assessment after you've taken your first sip.

Royal Kona Estate is a medium roast that tastes more like a light roast.

It's clear and refreshing, and it contains no bitterness whatsoever. There's no acid. There's no tang on the roof of your mouth. If you don't like your coffee to have an unpleasant aftertaste, this is the brand for you.

As for its flavors, Royal Kona Estate is a bit fruity and a bit earthy. This is probably because it's harvested on a private estate in the mountains of Hawaii. 

It's another brand that can boast about its "extra fancy" grade and authentic arabica beans that come directly from the Kona district.

The most amazing thing about Royal Kona Estate, however, is that its distributors only roast the beans after you've placed your order.

They're shipped to you with maximum freshness locked in the bag. It's the closest that you're going to get to standing on the grass of Hualalai and picking the beans yourself.

What's the Bottom Line?

If you're tired of dry, stale beans, try the Royal Kona Estate. It definitely lives up to its name by providing a lush and regal experience!


peaberry kona

PROS

  • Rare peaberry blend
  • Light, sweet and crisp flavor
  • No bitterness

CONS

  • Pricey
  • Frequently out of stock

Another great roast from Koa Coffee, this one is centered around something called the peaberry. The peaberry is a rare mutation in coffee cherries that results in a single, oval-shaped bean instead of two flat beans nestled together.

Not only does it have a unique shape, but it also results in a light, sharp and fruity flavor. Some people call the peaberry "the champagne of coffee" because of its tart sweetness.

It isn't bitter, however. It's another one of those medium roasts that just barely qualifies as medium. The Peaberry Kona has a very smooth body that won't upset your stomach or make you feel jittery at all, so it's perfect for people who are watching their acid levels.

Another great thing about the Peaberry Kona is that it's genuine Kona. It's harvested in Hawaii just like all of Koa Coffee's java. 

They're a brand that you can trust when it comes to selling real gourmet coffee beans without any additives or cheap blended elements.

Peaberries are so rare that Koa Coffee routinely sells out of this flavor, so if you want it, grab it while it's still in stock. It might be weeks or even months until they've collected enough peaberries to put them back on the market. According to their website, they can only produce 3-5 bags of peaberry coffee for every 100 bags of regular coffee!

What's the Bottom Line?

If you're bored with everyday coffee blends, try the Peaberry Kona. It's so rare and delicious that you probably won't feel like sharing your hard-won beans after they're finally in your hands.


These are just a few of the best Kona coffee brands on the market.

I've personally experienced their amazing aromas and rich, full-bodied flavors, so I know what I'm talking about. If you're ready to join me in the world of Kona coffee addiction, grab a mug and pull up a seat!


Dennies is the founder and editor-in-chief of Dripped Coffee. He is a trained barista who knows coffee like the back of his hand. When he's not brewing coffee, you can find him fishing or swimming.

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