For serious coffee drinkers, the taste of Kona coffee is unique among other coffees. Some people know that Kona coffee is grown in Hawaii, but there is more to it than that. The history of Kona coffee is as rich as its flavor.
Kona Coffee History
The beginning of Kona coffee can be traced back to the year 1825. The story begins with John Wilkinson of the British warship HMS Blonde. Wilkinson brought a few seedlings to Oahu from Brazil. The coffee plants were planted in the Monoa Valley on Oahu. From there, they were introduced to other areas of Oahu and the neighboring islands.
A few years later, in 1828, a missionary named Rev. Samuel Ruggles decided to plant some coffee trees at his new home in Captain Cook, Kona in West Hawaii. The trees prospered in the hospitable climate. The coffee industry in Hawaii was born from this event.
They have grown coffee in Kona, Hawaii from then on. Today, coffee is raised in an area twenty miles long and two miles wide on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa. This area contains approximately six hundred independent farms. The farm sizes on Kona average about three acres with a few farms of more than fifty acres. Total Kona coffee acreage is over two thousand acres and annual production is generally over two million pounds.
True Kona coffee is grown only in Hawaii. As with many coffees, Kona coffee bears the name of the region form which it is grown. Any coffee that is not grown in Kona cannot legally bear that name.
Counterfeiters did not stop trying, however. In 1997 the State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture took preventative measures against counterfeiters by certifying all Hawaiian coffees by origin. Kona coffee is not true Kona coffee unless it bears this certification.