Behind every great Kona day is a great cup of Kona coffee
A trip to Kona is not complete without exploring the scenic roads on the Hualalai and Mauna Loa slopes of the Kona District, home to over 700 farms cultivating a rare commodity. 100% pure KONA COFFEE, one of the most expensive and prized coffees in the world!
In 1825 Chief Boki, Governor of Oahu, picked up coffee seedlings in Brazil to plant in Hawaii, and the rest is history. A once volatile industry, today there are over 700 farms cultivating coffee on the scenic mountain slopes above Kailua-Kona. Producing about 3.8 million pounds of coffee a year, it's the only significant coffee production in the U.S. A unique combination of rich volcanic soil from the Hualalai Volcano, sunny mornings and cloudy afternoons create the ideal environment to grow this famed coffee.
A new emerging coffee market
Kona Coffee is one of the most expensive coffees in the world and has led to a new emerging market. Boutique, award-winning farms produce affordable new blends, each with a unique taste. Ka’u Coffee, from the far south, has placed in the top ten at one of the world's largest coffee gatherings for the last four years. The southeastern region's Puna Coffee is outstanding with its nutty overtones, while the northeastern region's Hamakua Coffee has a rich flavor with a chocolaty-smooth finish. More fine coffees being cultivated on the beautiful Big Island!
Kona’s Coffee Belt
Kona is in the heart of Coffee Country, a coffee belt about two miles wide ranging from 700 feet to 2,000 feet in elevation. Leisurely explore the scenic country roads of our coffee belt, sample 100% Kona in coffee shacks and restaurants, visit the thriving orchards and mills to learn the art of harvesting and watch pickers pick each ripe cherry by hand. Take the scenic drive from Kailua south on the old Mamalahoa Highway (Highway 11) along country roads through green, lush and hilly terrain. Aside from the coffee stops, this is a path through history, so be sure to stop at the picturesque St. Benedict Painted Church in Kealakekua Bay and the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Park.
Journey with us as we explore the best places to experience the true culture of Kona Coffee:
- Kailua Kona is home to the award-winning, organic Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation offering daily tours known to be the “coolest” tours in Kona. Early November brings the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival to the quaint yet lively seaside town of Kailua Bay. Coffee lovers can celebrate Kona’s nearly 200-year-old culture, heritage and history with a feast of fun activities and events.
- Head south on Mamalahoa towards Holualoa to the Hula Daddy Kona Coffee, an eco-friendly coffee farm offering plantation & roasting room tours. Next up before you reach the tiny mountain village of Holualoa is the Ueshima Coffee Company’s Kona Coffee Estate, nestled at the foot of Mt Hualalai with breathtaking views of the ocean. Journey on into Holualoa and look for the 1920s-era hot pink Kona Hotel, here you will find the Ferrari Coffee Visitor Center, coffee served with a large dose of aloha spirit. Only a mile down the road is the Kona Blue Sky Coffee Company, a 400-acre estate offering guided tours. A little further south on Highway 180 is the Holualoa Coffee Company on the Kona Le’a Plantation overlooking the Kona coast and onwards towards the ocean is Sugai Kona Coffee, a beautiful plantation with 35 acres of coffee trees, 25 acres of macadamia trees, and also some avocado and lychee trees.
- Pass through the quaint town of Honalo and enter the old plantation town of Kainaliu to Kona Joe Coffee, just to the right of Lanakila Church, for a free coffee tasting and tours. The world’s first trellised coffee plantation, where coffee beans grow on trellises like grapes in vineyards producing up to 35 percent more berries.
- Meander on towards the pristine town of Kealakekua and enjoy a snack and coffee at the Kona Mountain Cafe or roast your own private label at the UCC Espresso Bar at the bottom of Napo’opo’o Road. Next stop is the historic Greenwell Farms, a 35-acre estate of prime land at an elevation of 1,500 feet. Dating back to 1850 and founder Henry Nicholas Greenwell, an early pioneer in Kona coffee exporting, Greenwell Farms offers free tours daily.
- Learn about the lives of the coffee pioneers as you step back in time at the Kona Coffee Living History Farm. Just across from the 110-mile marker on Mamalahoa Highway in Captain Cook, this historic coffee farm dates back to 1913 and is listed on both State and National Registers for Historic Places. Visit the orchards, farm house, gardens, and processing mill on a guided living history tour and sample the farm’s sun-dried 100% Kona coffee, Macadamia nuts and seasonal fruit.
- Explore 15 acres of heirloom trees over 80 years old at the Lions Gate Kona Coffee Farm on the slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano, at mile marker 105. As well as exceptional coffee, the farm produces tasty Macadamia nuts and tropical and sub-tropical fruits.