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100 Kona Coffee - What Makes Kona Coffee So Desirable?

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Kona coffee belongs to a variety of the coffee arabica species of coffee bean, and it is found on the hills of Hualalai and Manua Loa located in the South and North of the Big Islands of Hawaii. Kona coffee is one of the most desirable and expensive coffees in the world, and only coffee that can be found in these specific districts is given the proper designation, Kona. It might be the odd weather pattern in Kona that is the most fascinating aspect, for the sun in the mornings, clouds and rain in the afternoon, and enriched soil seem to contribute to the perfect conditions for growing coffee.

Around 1828, the first coffee plant was taken to Kona from Sam Reverend Ruggles, and it was not much later that it became a common, worthy crop. Kona was being grown on abundant plantations, and the 1899 coffee market crash took place, which caused an inordinate amount of plantation owners to lease land to their employees. Many of the employees were from areas in and near Japan, and they had a lot of experience relating to sugarcane; employees worked these leased areas, and in the process, they produced abundant, high quality coffee.

Currently, throughout Kona, family farms have become commonplace, and many Japanese families have been aided by Filipinos, Europeans, and Americans. There are roughly eight hundred farms in existence. The most abundant blooms take place in February, and the tiny white flowers that shroud the trees create what is better known as Kona Snow. In April, verdant berries begin to show themselves among the trees, and as soon as August arrives, a ripe, red fruit shows up and is ready for picking. After 24-hours or so, the picking takes place; this cherry-type of red fruit is placed into a pulper, at which point, the beans become removed from the pulp and placed into a tank for fermentation.

The time that it takes to ferment varies in each case, but it usually takes about twelve hours in a lower elevation; the beans are then cleansed and carried out to dry on a rack, and many hoshidanas have a roof that rolls in order to cover the beans from moisture, rain, and other kinds of weather. After this point, it normally takes anywhere from one to two weeks to dry the beans for the proper level of moisture, typically ten percent or so. The beans are then housed as parchment and milled away for either wholesale purposes or roasting.

The classification of Kona beans are based upon the kind of seed, e.g., type 1 has two beans per cherry, straight on one end, round or oval on the other side. The peaberries relate to the type 2 classification; they have one circular bean per cherry. If these two kinds are graded further, purity, moisture, size, and bean size are often discerning features. The grades are as follows: type 1 includes Kona fancy, Kona number 1, Kona prime and several others. Type 2 includes peaberry number 1, as well as Peaberry prime.

In the 1990’s, there were certain infestations relating to the Root-knot nematode, and in these growing cases, many valuable trees had been destroyed. Symptoms of such issues include clusters of trees that have been slowed down or stunted, specifically when they are transplanted in some fashion. Certain kinds of trees have proved to be resistant to nematodes. Moreover, it can be established that with Kona coffee (Guatemala), these plants actually resist the menacing pests, while at the same time create an amazing coffee product; this unlikely scenario of resistance happened to be discovered by Edward T. Fukunaga, who belonged to the Kona Research Station in the fifties.

Due to the high expense of Kona coffee, many manufacturers offer blends, which of course are not blends of Kona coffee, but instead combine either Brazilian or Columbian coffee to the mix. In most cases, only ten percent of the required Kona coffee is found in “blends” of this nature. Hawaiian law ensures that the blends give the precise amount of actual Kona on the label. In order for it to be authentic Kona coffee, the label needs to say “100% Kona Coffee.”

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