The premium Arabica varietal coffees grown throughout the Kona region on the island of Hawaii are considered among the world’s top gourmet coffees. The reasons that fresh-roasted Hawaiian Kona Coffee is a top specialty coffee are numerous, though it is largely due to the region where the coffee is grown - Kona Coffee Country on the Big Island of Hawaii.
The elevations of the Kona coffee farms are significantly lower than the elevations where most of the world’s other top gourmet coffees are grown, and thus Kona coffee provides a good example of how it isn’t the elevation of the coffee farm that matters as much as the time it takes the coffee cherry (fruit) to mature on the coffee plant-a slower maturation time leads to a denser, and thus higher quality coffee bean.
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The unique climate of the Kona coffee growing region provides optimal conditions for a very long maturation period for the coffee cherry, and this long maturation period leads to a very dense coffee bean, which in fact is the primary factor in coffee bean quality.
The 30-mile-long Kona Coffee Belt, which is only about one to two miles wide, sits at elevations from 2,500 feet above sea level all the way down to about 500 feet above sea level. In contrast, many of the other top world coffees are grown at elevations from 4,000 to 6,000 feet above sea level.
More than 500 Kona coffee farms are found within the Kona Coffee Belt, and most of these farms are only about 5 acres in size. Many of the farms are still run by fifth-generation descendants of the original Kona coffee farmers who were the pioneers of the crop in Hawaii more than a century ago.
The skill of these long time Kona coffee farmers in tending to the plants ensures a top quality product year after year. The careful hand picking of only the ripest coffee cherry is one factor in the consistency of the high quality Kona coffee beans.
Also very important to the consistent high quality of Kona coffee is the careful wet processing of the Kona coffee cherry, including a fermentation stage to remove the mucilage, and then a washing of the beans followed by drying, milling, and finally grading the beans.
The graded, unroasted coffee beans are known as green coffee beans, which have been milled though note yet roasted. At this stage the beans are ready for roasting and then packaging for sale to consumers.
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There are many reasons that gourmet Kona coffee is one of the world’s most respected premium coffees-from the region’s rich volcanic soils to the bright morning sun tempered by cloudy afternoons that protect the plants from the hottest hours of sun. The overall reason that Kona coffee is so distinguished, however, is that the Kona coffee is nurtured from soil to sip, allowing you to experience the joys of a truly fine American coffee.
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To read about more Kona Coffee Farms see Kona Coffee Farms, Tours, and Coffeehouses.