Kona Coffee Heaven or Hype

Kona coffee isn’t the best.  Far from it.   As you already know, because of marketing, it’s sometimes tough to tell fact from fiction, good from bad, and truth from lies.  This is just as true with the Kona Coffee.  You’d think that one of the most expensive coffees in the country would be the best whole bean coffee.  In side-by-side tests, 90% of American coffee tasters can’t tell the difference between Kona and Colombian.

Kona CoffeeBest Kona Coffee Taste Test

To prove my point, I once taste tested coffees from 9 different countries.  Each sample was hand picked, sun dried, imported the same year, stored in the same warehouse, shipped via the same carrier, roasted identically, and brewed identically.  In every conceivable way, each sample was identical, except in one aspect; where they were grown.

With 9 pots, 9 cups, and 9 note cards, I taste tested each and took notes.  By the way, this was a blind test, I did not know which pot came from which country.  Keep in mind that I’m a professional master coffee roaster and taste tester.  Can you guess the results?  The first time I finished the circuit of 9 coffees, I couldn’t taste a notable difference.  And yes, I did wash my mouth out each time.  So, I started the test over again.  The second time through produced the same results.  It wasn’t until the 3rd time through that I started to notice a very slight difference between a few of the samples.  So, I took notes of the differences.  After an hour and five complete tests of each coffee, I had 5 samples that stood out; three were a bit better and 2 were a bit worse.  The remaining 5 samples were equal in every way.

Central American Coffee

I did notice one thing.  All three samples that I liked were Central American Coffee.  My guess is because Central American coffee tends to be a little less acidic, a little more smooth, and a bit more naturally sweet, which as you might guess is my personal preference.  Over the years, I’ve narrowed my personal preference down to Costa Rican coffee, with Nicaraguan a close second.  Again, keep in mind this my personal preference.  I like coffee that’s super smooth with zero bitterness.

I know, you’re wondering where the Kona coffee came in with my test.  Actually, it was one of the 5 that didn’t taste different.  Here’s the think about grading coffee and choosing a favorite.  You can’t compare coffees if the roaster burns the snot out of the beans, which is exactly what a vast majority of industrial coffee companies do.  The million dollar question is this.  Why is Kona coffee so popular and so expensive.  In a word, “Marketing”.

Coffee Truths

  1. The fresher the roast, the better the coffee.
  2. How coffee is roasted and how it is brewed have a lot more to do with flavor than where it’s grown.
Kona Coffee


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