what does kona coffee taste like

What Does Kona Coffee Taste Like? (Here is Why it is SO Special)

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Kona Coffee is very popular around the world. There are lots of talks around Kona Coffee and with no doubt the taste is big part of it.

It’s very unlikely you’ll find coffee beans that taste anything like Kona. If I had to explain the taste of Kona Coffee to you in a few words, it would go something like this.

Imagine a mixture of brown sugar, milk chocolate, a touch of honey and a hint of sharp fruit flavor. This can be anything from strawberry to grapefruit. Macadamia and hazelnut could also replace the fruit taste to provide a nutty alternative. Don’t be surprised if you taste a hint of cinnamon, spice or even licorice. That’s the true taste of Kona coffee.

Exploring the Kona Coffee Taste

When it comes to the taste of Kona, simply saying it tastes like a fruity coffee just doesn’t do it justice. Traditionally Kona needs to be discreetly sweet and medium bodied with just the right amount of acidity. The taste shouldn’t be bitter and should light your taste buds up immediately.

During the roasting process, Kona coffee releases the sweet fruity flavors first. As the roasting process continues, the fruitiness declines and the coffee develop its full-bodied flavor. That’s when the flavor starts hinting at its spicy and sometimes nutty undertones. The type of roast determines which undertones are the most prominent.

The part of coffee that gives it that much anticipated bite as it hits your taste buds is the acidity. Kona coffees generally have a vibrant but mild acidity. A true Kona body tastes full. Some have even referred to it as slightly buttery on the palate. This is the coffee taste most people associate with a true Kona blend.

what does kona coffee taste like


Kona Coffee Flavors

Most coffee lovers prefer their favorite drink to taste like original coffee, some love to play with some additional flavors to enhance the experience. Let’s have a look at some of the most popular flavors:

  • Toasted Coconut, 10% Kona Blend Coffee
  • Vanilla Macadamia, 10% Kona Blend Single Serve Coffee Pods
  • Chocolate Macadamia, 10% Kona Blend Coffee
  • Honey Macadamia, 10% Kona Blend Coffee
  • Vanilla Crème Brulee, 10% Kona Blend Coffee
  • White Chocolate Strawberry, 10% Kona Blend Coffee
  • Hazelnut, 10% Kona Blend Coffee
  • Eggnog, 10% Kona Blend Coffee

Watch a couple of coffee tasters experience the licorice flavor of Kona coffee in this video.


How the State of the Beans Affects the Taste

Coffee makers are finding changing the level of ripeness of the beans gives you a whole different experience to the Kona coffee taste. Using green under-ripe beans often produce a harsher flavor enjoyed by people with a taste for specialty coffees.

Overripe beans, on the other hand, produce a fermented taste. As popular as these two different Kona tastes may be in some circles, it’s only the ripe, red bean that produces the exact, genuine Kona taste.

Can Kona Coffee Taste Stale?

Another trick to ensure the Kona coffee taste stays as authentic as possible is freshness. When coffee beans are stored for too long they tend to deliver a flat and lifeless taste. As a coffee lover, although there are coffee containers who can keep the grounds fresh for sometime, you should always insist on Kona coffee made within current crop. That way you’ll always enjoy the subtle yet rich, smooth and fresh taste of a genuine Kona blend.

How Does the Roast Affect the Taste?

Kona, like most other coffees is available in different roasts. How exactly do different roasts affect the flavor and taste of Kona coffee?

Let’s compare the different roasts:

  • Dark roasts: Kona dark roasts give you daring, bold flavors that are hard to forget. The aroma of a dark roast fills your nostrils before you’ve even had the chance to taste it. Herbal honey and even a hint of popcorn also stand out as notable flavors of a Kona dark roast. There’s a hint of strawberries associated with a Kona dark roast. But, it’s more of an aftertaste and quite a treat. Having a dark roast with a plate of food or chocolate dessert has been known to really draw out the flavors in the coffee.
  • Medium roasts: You know you’ve found the right medium roast Kona blend when you taste a perfect balance between fruit and chocolate. The aroma straight out of the bag is one of raw almond and peach. With its full body and low acidity, the medium roast is reminiscent of a good dessert. Sweet almond, peach and marzipan flavors delight your taste buds. Despite its sweet nature, medium roast Kona will pair well with pork and beef dishes. As a breakfast treat, it also pairs well with a plate of syrupy pancakes. Both bring out the flavor of a medium roast.
  • Light roast: The light roast of Kona blends reveal subtle flavors of berry jam and caramel with hazelnut undertones. There may even be a hint of Jasmine with a slightly earthy aftertaste. A light roast is perfect paired with pastries and fruits. The light roast is also the ideal choice for Kona as a cold brew for a refreshing summer drink.

what does kona coffee taste like

Some Interesting Facts about Kona Coffee

Along with its rich and unusual taste, Kona has a colourful origin as well. Aside from knowing it comes from Hawaii, what else do you know about Kona? Well, here are few interesting facts about this plain, yet intriguing coffee drink.

What’s so Special about Kona Coffee?

Kona coffee is very popular throughout the world. The main reason for this is the prominent aroma and the full bodied flavor. What makes Kona beans different to other coffee beans? Well, for starters, the best Kona coffee beans thrive in the slopes of the Hualalai and Mauna Loa Mountains.

The real defining factor in the beans’ exquisite taste comes from the nutrient rich volcanic soil in which they thrive. So unless you have a volcano in your back yard, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to duplicate the soil conditions to grow your own Kona!

Is There More Caffeine in Kona Coffee?

Some coffee aficionados have suggested the amount of caffeine in Kona is part of the reason for the intriguing taste. Let’s examine this theory.

On average a cup of Kona coffee, roasted to medium dark has 54mg of caffeine. This is actually more than your average Columbian coffee which varies between 30mg -50mg. However, Kona is not the most caffeinated coffee out there. Some types of Arabica coffee have a massive caffeine content of 100mg or more. So, to answer your question, Kona has more caffeine than your average coffee, but not so much that it’s unbearable.

Is Kona Coffee Worth all the Fuss?

Gone are the days where you have to travel all the way to Columbia, Hawaii, Honduras or Ethiopia to enjoy your favorite brand of coffee. Courtesy of modernized import laws we can enjoy our favorite coffee drinks in the comfort of our own homes. So, what’s the fuss about Kona coffee?

The best Kona coffee is very expensive, even if you’re buying it locally. Coffee enthusiasts also tend to make a big fuss about actually having a cup of originally brewed Kona. The foremost reason Kona coffee has a hefty price tag stems directly to limited supply.

what does kona coffee taste like

Hawaii has limited farming space available to grow the beans required to make the coffee. Roughly only 2.7 million pounds of coffee beans are sold every year. The majority of these beans are sold directly from the farmers. This means there’s no manufacturing process. The product is pruned, harvested and bagged by each farmer individually. On average Hawaii only has around 900 coffee farms.

The price of Kona coffee is decided by what is called the true cost of production and minimal profit. While some may consider it overpriced, it’s important to spare a thought for the humble farmer hand picking your favorite drink, trying to earn a living.

A Final Word on Kona Coffee

Most avid coffee drinkers have a secret list of worldly coffees they’d like to try at some point in their lives. Kona coffee is one of those drinks that need to be on the top of that list. With its warm, honey and chocolate infused sweet taste, it can only be a delight. While you might not be able to drink as much of it as you do your favorite espresso, it certainly is worth the fuss!