Kona coffee comes from the North and South Kona districts of the Big Island, in an area 20 miles long and 2 miles wide on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa.
Kona has produced coffee continuously since the early 1800s. and contains nearly 600 independent farms. Farms average just 3 acres and only a handful have 50 or more acres. Total Kona coffee acreage is over 2,000 acres and production exceeds 2.0 million pounds in most years. Most of Kona production grades Prime or better, because hand cultivated, hand harvested Typica variety accounts for most Kona production. Kona's rich tradition and excellent coffee continues to increase demand. Coffee buyers have pushed Kona prices up in recent years, and made it one of the highest priced coffees in the world.
From late August through January, the Kona coffee farmer is singularly focused on bringing in the ripe red coffee cherry, processing the cherry into coffee beans, and preparing for sale or storage of their coffee. Most Kona coffee farmers sell fresh picked coffee cherry, but there is a trend for farmers to add value by processing, drying, milling and even roasting. More than 100 private coffee labels are attached to Kona coffee.
The rest of the Kona coffee farmer's year is spent in cultivation. Farmers prune old growth, select future growth, fertilize, discourage rats that munch the sweet skin and pulp of the coffee cherry, and keep busy with other general farm management.
Kona coffee farmers work hard all year to produce a coffee that is famous thought the world. These farmers love what they do, working outdoors in the extremely pleasant subtropical climate of Kona, and feel privileged to keep Kona beautifully green by covering the slopes with hand tended old growth Kona coffee.
Production of high quality coffee is steadily developing in other districts on the eastern slopes of the Big Island. Kau, Hamakua, and Puna are new growing districts to be recognized, designated, and certified by the Hawaii State Department of Agriculture.
Puna is the newest of the group where 36 hard working farmers are cultivating about 115 acres and developing unique qualities in both Caturra and Typica as well as a little Moka.