What Does Kona Coffee Taste Like? [A Deep Dive Guide]

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Since Kona coffee is grown in the microclimate of volcanic soil, it has a unique taste and flavor. Fundamentally speaking, Kona coffee is a full-bodied beverage with sweet and fruity flavors, prominent aroma, and savory tastes from brown sugar, milk chocolate to honey.

Kona Coffee Taste From Light to Dark Roast 

That said, light roasted Kona coffee beans taste more like the floral flavors and a much sweeter, tangy taste with a strong scent. And when you smell Kona coffee cups brewed with dark roasted coffee beans, you’ll often get hints of blackberries and Anise along with the sweetness. Imagine you’ve filled a new leather bag with a pound of blackberries and held it to your back while rolling down a hill. Yum.

Let’s take a look at the region that produces such a unique type of coffee beans.

Kona Coffee Profile

Region: Kona District of the Big Island of Hawaii

Marketed Name: Kona coffee

Parent Plant: Coffea arabica

Place of Cultivation: Slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa in the North and South Kona District

Kona Coffee Characteristics

Flovour Characteristics: Bright, Caramelly, Caramelly, Chocolatey, Citrusy, Floral, Fruity, Nutty, Winy.

Note: Flavor characteristics depend upon your Kona coffee products you are using for your brew.

Acidity: High acidic [1]

Caffeine: High in caffeine with 1.20 to 1.32% caffeine [2]

Kona Coffee Grades

  1. Kona extra fancy
  2. Kona fancy
  3. Kona no. 1
  4. Kona select
  5. Kona prime
  6. Hawaii no. 3
  7. Kona natural prime
  8. Kona mixed natural prime [3]

What makes Kona Coffee Taste different from other coffee beans?

Kona coffee beans are planted in a microclimate on the Hualalai and Mauna Loa Mountains, the northern and southern slopes of Kona, Hawaii.

These are the world’s most expensive and tasty coffee beans. Its region makes it so special.

The Popularity of Kona Coffee Taste

The History of Kona coffee goes like this: The bean has continued to gain popularity as the best bean for tasty coffee beverages. In 1873, it was awarded at the World Exhibition in Vienna an award for excellence to illustrate the Kona coffee explosive fame. By 2010, it jumped to being the world’s most popular coffee variety!

The US and other countries have also become a fan of high-quality Kona coffee beans.

The bean is so popular for its taste that it has its annual festival, “The Kona Coffee Cultural Festival,” which has sustained for nearly 200 years, is celebrated every November. Kona coffee is now the most famous and tastiest coffee bean in the world.

The Flavors And Taste Are The Key Attributes of Kona coffee.

The flavors and taste are some of Kona coffee’s key attributes. According to the famous novelist Mark Twain, “Kona Coffee was the richest in flavor of any coffee he had ever tasted”.

Another place Mark Twain called Kona coffee “A richer flavor than any other,” grows on the cloud-wreathed western flanks of Hawaii’s Big Island volcanoes.

Kona Coffee in The World of Taste

Today, Kona coffee is the dominant coffee in the taste world, but it has a big competition with Tanzanian Peaberry Coffee.

Picking Kona coffee For A Tasty Brew

Kona coffee is paramount to the style and quality of the coffee, so it is an important question of what characteristics are most required when picking.

Coffee cherry garden

Late August is the time of picking Kona coffee cherries. It is a very complicated process; only trained pickers can do it. They look for complete phenolic ripeness before picking. Ideally, that means good dark rosy color. Luckily, at that level of ripeness in the “Kona” climate, the Kona coffee cherries full of taste and with good acidity. Those qualities are important because Kona coffee is the backbone of our taste buds.

The best Kona coffee, 100% pure Kona, has a rich aroma and a delicate yet distinct flavor. It may be roasted to any level; however, most Kona coffee roasters prefer a medium roast for this coffee bean.

The flavor of Kona coffee is incredibly smooth with a subtle sweetness on the finish. It is a perfectly balanced cup and often features tasting notes of plum, molasses, cocoa nibs, and cream.

But this is true only for the best Kona coffees on the market. Many fakes out there claim to be Kona coffee but are instead a Kona blend consisting of only 10% Kona coffee beans and 90% cheaper, less flavorful beans.

To be sure you’re getting the most refined flavor, always look for 100% pure Kona coffee and always buy whole bean coffee and grind just before brewing.

Heather Calatrello Owner at Shed Light Coffee

Kona Coffee’s Taste Effects When We Picked It Unripe

Kona coffee beans, when picked, dried, and ground after they are fully ripe they deliver a complex array of scents, aromas, and textures. When the Kona coffee cherries cannot ripen fully, they can deliver a sensation of pyrazines, which can remind the taster of green bell peppers.

Always Check The Grades For Better Taste

Only a handful of Hawaiian island companies are undergoing the most complex tests of the Hawaiian government. They make 100% Kona coffee beans from their coffee-producing farms. And every Kona farm has a grade from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDA).

While producers out of Hawaii always blend Kona coffee with other coffee beans. If you want to make sure that the best Kona coffee is coming into your cup, you should pay attention to the Kona’s HDA grade. Avoid Kona coffee blends.

A 100% Kona coffee from the outside of Hawaii is rare because coffee producers outside of Hawaii are notorious at blending cheap coffee varieties together.”

“Kona Blends” Can Spoil Your Taste

Since there is a limited quantity of original Kona beans available in the market, it is also very expensive. Therefore, many companies develop “Kona blends” at affordable prices to make more money. If you want to taste Kona coffee, stay away from them. Only pure Kona can enhance your taste.

How Can You Enhance Your Kona Coffee Taste?

A lot of ways to enhance your Kona coffee taste, but in my opinion, pairing cookies with Kona coffee is the best way. Cookies and coffee pairing tips for Kona coffee are easy. Kona coffee comes in a wide variety of styles. You can feel a riper, richer and more powerful, more elegant taste, texture, and feel.

The Glossary of Kona Coffee Taste

The terms I use below are related to the taste or smell of a beverage made from Kona coffee beans. And these terms will only be used for prepared drinks, only from coffee beans. I have added the word “Kona coffee” to them because this article is related to Kona coffee, and I am writing on the Kona coffee taste. By the way, you can use these terms for any coffee bean beverage. All you have to do is change the word “Kona” by the type of bean you are brewing your beverage with it. Let’s take a look!

Negative Taste, Flavors, And Aromas

Carbony – Sometimes, coffee roasters over-roasted the Kona coffee beans. When coffee is made from them, it gives off the flavor and smell of burnt food or burnt wood. This type of coffee is called Carbonyl coffee.

Ashy – When Kona coffee beans are darkly roasted, they give off a scent reminiscent of an ashtray or fireplace.

Baggy – When Kona coffee green beans are stored for a long time, sometimes they get moldy. When coffee is made by roasting such puffed Kona beans, We say it is baggy coffee. Such coffee is reminiscent of mildew.

Bready – When roasters do not roast Kona coffee beans properly, the coffee is made from them, called bready coffee.

Bouquet – When Kona coffee beans are freshly ground to make coffee, such brewed Kona coffee is called bouquet coffee.

Earthy – If your Kona coffee beans are roasted with the presence of different types of mold, it can give an aroma of fresh earth or wet soil. We call it earthy coffee. It can be considered both good or bad depending on the mood and nature of the consumer.

Ferment – When Kona coffee beans have been allowed to sit and ferment for longer than is necessary, they taste sour or oniony. We call that fermented coffee.

Grassy – The Kona coffee beans that have been under-roasted or damaged by water bring an aroma that reminds one of mown grass. We call them grassy coffee.

Herbal – The Kona coffee beans that have not been fully dried when processed bring an aroma of freshly mown grass and herbs. We call it herbal coffee.

Oniony – When coffee producers use stagnant water for processing Kona coffee beans or use the wet method, the brewed beverage brings a flavor of onions. We called it oniony coffee.

Papery – When we use Kona coffee beans stored in paper bags or prepare Kona coffee beverages using a low-quality filter paper, it results in a paper-like taste. We call it Papery coffee.

Quackery – When a Kona coffee cherry picker picks unripe coffee beans, these beans result in one of peanuts flavor. We call it Quackery coffee.

Scorched – The Kona coffee that has been roasted until it receives burn marks due to roasting too hot or poor tumbling during the process. We call the resulting beverage scorched coffee.

Woody – When you store roasted Kona coffee beans for a long time, they will taste and smell old coffee. We call it woody coffee.

The fourteen terms I have mentioned above relate to everything from the Kona coffee beans before reaching your hand. Let me now describe some of the terms by which you change your Kona coffee’s taste, aroma, and flavor while brewing your coffee.

Briny – When you reheat your brewed Kona coffee or leave it on a burner for too long, it may taste slightly salty. We can say it is a briny coffee.

Chicory – When you use herbs to flavor your Kona coffee or even as a coffee substitute, you may call it chicory coffee.

Spicy – When you use a blended Kona coffee mix with someone of spice, it may bring a taste or aroma that resembles cloves, cinnamon, or other spices. We call it spicy coffee.

Baked – When our Kona coffee beverage is flat, dull, and very boring, we say it is baked coffee. It is always due to the wrong brewing method or some other processing or roasting method.

Bitter – When our beverage brings a harsh, sour, and even unpleasant taste that is noticed mostly in the back of the tongue, we call it a “Bitter coffee.” Kona coffee can never be bitter.

Mellow – When you brew your Kona coffee with a more water ratio, you prepare a balanced and mild coffee with any strong tastes or aroma. We call it a mellow drink.

Sour –  Sometimes, when you spoil your Kona coffee due to a wrong brewing method, you’ll find a biting and unpleasant flavor in your coffee drink.

All the terms I’ve mentioned so far are negative. I mean, if you feel your coffee drink made from Kona coffee beans is baked or bitter. Or suppose you feel any of the bad tastes I mentioned above in your Kona coffee drink. In that case, it means that either you have made a mistake in brewing coffee or the Producing company made a mistake in picking, processing, roasting, etc. Kona coffee beans themselves can never have any of the flavors described above.

All The Tastes, Flavors And Aromas of Kona Coffee

If Kona coffee beans are grown in the Kona district of Hawaii Island having grade 100% Kona coffee and the following work has been done with them such as:

hot kona coffee cup
  • They have been well taken care of the Kona cherry trees
  • The pickers have picked the Kona coffee beans at the right time after full ripening. 
  • They have been properly dried in the sun 
  • They have been fermented correctly 
  • They have been stored properly 
  • They have been roasted correctly 
  • They have been ground immediately after roasting 
  • There has not been much space between roasting and grinding 
  • The method of grinding them have been perfect 
  • A coffee drink is made from them immediately after grinding 
  • The brewing method has been used correctly

If all of the above methods have not been mistaken, then the drink made from Kona coffee beans has the following characteristics such as:

  • They are Bright – Kona coffee always refers to pleasant taste with a tangy flavor.
  • They are Caramelly – Some of Kona’s coffee refers to the flavor and aroma that resembles candy or syrup, such as sugars that have been caramelized.
  • They are Chocolatey – Some of Kona coffee refers to a flavor and aroma that resembles chocolate. We call it chocolaty flavor.
  • They are Citrusy – Some of Kona coffees refer to the flavor and aroma of citrus fruit. This flavor can often be found when Kona coffee beans come from the cherries of coffee.
  • They are Floral – You often find the aroma of fresh flowers in Kona coffee, fresh-picked dried, and roasted. You may call it floral Kona coffee taste.
  • They are Fruity – When Kona coffee refers to an aroma and taste that resembles different types of fruits, we call it fruity Kona flavor.
  • They are Nutty – Sometimes, Kona coffee refers to an aroma resembling fresh nuts. We call it the nutty Kona flavor.
  • They are Winy – When Kona coffee refers to a combination of taste, smell, and feel in the mouth that resembles that of wine, we call this winy flavor.

Final Wording

The result is that Kona coffee beans taste great. But if there is something wrong with your brewed coffee, check that your brewing method is correct. You can change the body of your beverage by using different brewing methods. If your coffee brewing method is perfect, try changing your Kona coffee product to your Kona coffee brand. I sincerely hope you get good results.

As always, Happy Caffeinated!

Reference:

[1]http://www.coffeeresearch.org/coffee/hawaii.htm#:~:text=Hawaii%20Kona%20Coffee%20Flavor,and%20a%20very%20rich%20flavor.

[2]https://coffee.org/pages/caffeine-levels-in-coffee-how-much-caffeine-in-coffee#:~:text=Guatemalan%20and%20Kona%20beans%20are,the%20top%20of%20the%20bean.

[3]https://hdoa.hawaii.gov/qad/files/2012/12/Summary-of-Chapter-4-143-7.14.pdf

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