The price of Kona Coffee keeps rising. The question is whether it is worth paying the premium for this rare, niche coffee?
But first.. what is Kona Coffee? It can be legally grown only in the limited Kona Coffee District on the Big Island of Hawaii. Increasing numbers of laws and regulations from Hawaii legislators have slowed the counterfeiting of Kona Coffee, but not put a stop to it. Price rises have only given the greedy guys more incentive to market other, lesser coffee as Kona Coffee.
You can no longer trust the supposedly official Kona Coffee seal. It is being counterfeited along with the coffee. The only way you can know if you are getting the real thing is by knowing your supplier.
Fortunately, there are dozens of honest suppliers of Kona coffee. Find one of those, and you can relax. I buy my Kona coffee from KonaMountainCoffee.com because I’ve known the people there for over twenty years. I’ve seen their kids have babies. Full disclosure: my wife and I are close friends with several of the people there. Maybe that makes me prejudiced toward them. But then again Kona Mountain keeps winning Best Kona Coffee awards, the most recent being First Place in the 2014 Hawaii Coffee Association Cupping Competition, Kona District. To me, that says it all.
That brings back the question of whether any Kona Coffee is worth the price.
You can’t compare it to any store coffee. That includes the big coffee store companies. It is also hard to compare with other rare coffees like Jamaican Blue. The reason is that Kona coffee is grown in Hawaii, USA. Some Kona coffee companies roast it in little 25-pound batches every day, and then ship as soon as they pour it into the bag. I defy you to find a fresher coffee from anywhere in the world. You would have to live on a coffee plantation to get it any fresher.
Aroma. Coffee aroma. If that is not the best part of coffee, I don’t know what is. Kona coffee is magnificently endowed in this realm. Taste. Mark Santiago, the farm manager for Kona Mountain, talks to Hawaii visitors about Kona coffee taste in this way: “Find a coffee you like, and keep buying that. Taste any coffee on the island. Any coffee from anywhere. Then I’ll give you a taste of my coffee.” He believes that one taste of KM coffee is all a person needs to choose it above all others. A little disconcertingly, he’s almost always right. But is it worth the price? Two ounces out of a pound bag cost about USD 4.60 in February, 2015, and makes ten cups, if you brew it the perfect way that Mark suggests. That’s under 50 cents a cup, even at today’s prices. To my way of thinking… yes… absolutely yes. So much sheer pleasure is quite easily worth the price.