How to choose Hawaii coffee

Hawaiian Coffee Choices

Make it a Tall Liquid Gold – With or Without the Cream and Sugar

Just as Long as it’s Hawaiian

I admit it, proudly actually, I’m a coffee snob. Let’s make that more exact – a Hawaiian coffee snob. Since coming here and being introduced to local coffee, I’ve never been able to drink anything else, even taking a supply with me on my two trips to the mainland because I just can’t go back to Maxwell House :• .

I have seen many a visitor stand in front of a grocery display showing a multitude of coffee brands, all identified as “Hawaiian”, not knowing which one to buy to either try or take home. I did the same thing. But I have the advantage of time… time to try each one of them and establish favorites. I will not be addressing famous Kona coffee per se here this time… there’s enough about just that for its own post soon. Although, yes I do love Kona coffee, but there are coffees from each island that are wonderful and worth talking about. Today’s post will give some guidance to coffee drinkers so they can best experience one of Hawaii’s most amazing products.

These are easy to find in stores, reasonably good for the price and the one second to left is a staple in my pantry!

First, some basics: Read the label carefully! Because of a snag in the law, coffee companies can use the name “Kona” on the label or in the name even if it contains just 10% genuine Kona beans mixed with 90% of whatever else they want to use (from Hawaii or not). This is not going to taste like real Kona coffee.

Along that line, I’ve heard people say “oh, but Kona coffee is too h3!”. Actually, what you have to be concerned about the type of roast. That h3′ coffee you are drinking is most likely a dark roast, which clearly has a deeper flavor (but actually contains less caffeine). Coffee growers themselves have told me that medium roast is best for black coffee drinkers, while Dark Roast is good for cream/sugar users. So look for that on your label also.

Coffee is grown on the major islands of the state, so no matter which one you are on, you are going to find a local brand that can be just as wonderful as “Kona”. Don’t think that only the Big Island can deliver the top goods.

(on left) True gold from Kona grower – $$$ but amazing. Buy it online. (on right) My FAV! Available via mail-order coffee club: free shipping, $$, & great service. My best cup of coffee ever.

It’s true in the coffee world as in most worlds, you get what you pay for. 75% of the local coffee bags on the shelves in Hawaii’s grocery and drug stores are less than $10 a 6 – 8oz bag. Those <$5 a bag coffees are going to taste like one. On a coffee plantation, their good stuff’ is going to cost you $30 – $40 per 8oz bag. And just like fine wine, it’s going to be that much more delicious. I vehemently recommend that you do spend a little more to get the taste that will make you a believer, and bypass those cheaper bags. But believe me, I understand budget. The pictures in this blog are my personal recommendations, coffees that I drink, can afford, and completely enjoy. These are not posted in any order, but there is a favorite amongst them.

PS: not pictured but highly recommended: Costco’s bags of Kauai’i and Kona coffees ( $10 – $20) – these come from local growers, packaged for sale at this discount mart, and very worth a trip into this store. Not available on the mainland.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for the insight! I too am a coffee snob, and have turned family on the mainland into Kona Coffee snobs as well. I have shipped them many "flat rate boxes" of coffee!  I love the Royal Kona (100% Kona Coffee) but am always interested to try something new :) 

  2. This post and Nancy's comments have made me realize I need to send some Hawaii coffee to my mother on the mainland to remind her of her recent Hawaii vacation. She loved the great coffee here!

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