Why Is Kona Coffee So Expensive? The Island Specialty 

why is Kona coffee so expensive

Coffee enthusiasts know that once you start your journey to great coffee exploration, the expenses can quickly add up. From gourmet blends to coffee making equipment. There are a lot of ways for you to spend money once you have dived into the world of coffee.  But even the biggest impulse buyers of coffee and coffee making gear would stop when they first come across the price of Kona coffee. So why is Kona coffee so expensive?

Kona coffee is so expensive because compared to other types of coffee it is rare. The main factor is that Kona coffee can only be grown in very specific locations on the Big Island of Hawaii. It grows on only two volcano slopes which makes it very limited in supply. Whenever there is a high demand for a product with a low supply, prices will go up.

Yes, Kona coffee can be a bit on the pricy side. It is not an everyday brew, but rather a once in a while treat yourself thing. Let’s learn some more to provide context to the question “why is Kona coffee so expensive?”. 

What is Kona Coffee?

Coffee beans on tree in farm

So what exactly is Kona Coffee? Let’s start at the beginning. Kona coffee is a specialty coffee. Specialty coffee is coffee that uses high-quality beans grown in perfect conditions. They are also processed specially to further enhance their taste and make the most of the beans. All of these things will make up for a great cup of coffee.

And all of the effort and special conditions also contribute to the price of these specialty coffees, such is the case of the Kona coffee. But even as specialty coffee goes, Kona coffee still separates itself from the bunch. As I mentioned, it has a lot to do with location. Kona coffee is coffee that is grown exclusively on two spots on the Big Island in Hawaii. Because of the specific weather and the volcanic soil, Kona coffee is of really high quality. 

Author Note: So this makes it in very high demand. Most of the time you will find Kona coffee blends. These can have as low as 10% Kona coffee in them, which will make them more affordable but will lose on quality. That said, pure Kona coffee is very rare and very expensive. 

Why is Kona Coffee So Rare?

Well, first of all, the Kona coffee belt is really small, which makes the quantity of coffee produced very limited. The quality of the coffee, however, is high, due to the volcanic soil and the weather conditions. The Kona coffee belt is about 40 square miles.

This means that only a small amount of coffee can be grown here. To give you a bit of a perspective on how small this amount is, Kona coffee makes up about 1% of all the coffee produced in the world. And when you consider the level of quality it has, you can make sense of why it is in such high demand. 

So what exactly is so special about the Kona coffee belt, and why can’t we get coffee of such quality anywhere else? Well, it’s a combination of few things that contribute to this. And once we examine them it becomes quite clear why Kona coffee is so expensive. 

The Kona Coffee Belt is Special 

Even generally speaking, Hawaii is an excellent place for coffee production. But the Kona Coffee Belt is something special. It consists of two spots that are on the slopes of volcanos. This contributes to a mineral-rich soil that cannot be found anywhere else. The weather conditions, on the other hand, are nearly perfect. Hawaii has a warm climate, with sunny mornings, usually rainy afternoons, and then mild nights.

So the temperature around the Kona coffee belt is anything but drastic. It gets about 70° F and never drops below 55° F. The cloudy and rainy afternoons are perfect because they prevent overheating during the day. The rain also helps a lot. It rains regularly, but not so much that it prevents the sun to come out. It’s this perfect balance that is so beneficial to grow quality coffee in the Kona coffee belt. 

Another thing that has a great influence on the quality of the beans is the altitude at which the plant grows. The Kona coffee is grown at about 3000 feet. The higher the altitude, the milder the taste. And the last thing, but certainly not least is that the soil has great drainage. Considering that it often rains, this is not something that should be overlooked. It means that the roots of the plant are not soaked in water constantly, but they still get all the humidity they need. 

All of these conditions work together to create the perfect environment for growing delicious coffee beans. So it is no surprise the high demand the Kona coffee is in. Taking into consideration that Kona coffee makes for only 1% of the world’s coffee, it kind of makes you want to get it even more.  

Why is Kona Coffee So Expensive 

Coffee Beans and Scoop

But even for specialty coffee, Kona coffee still holds the title as one of the most expensive coffee in the world. There are many specialty coffees out there and there are even a large number of high-quality coffee blends you can choose from, but Kona coffee is something different. 

Few factors contribute to Kona coffee’s price. One of those we already talked about. The quality of the coffee. Hawaii has a great climate for growing coffee. Kona coffee is grown in perfect conditions on the soil of an active volcano. Volcanic soil is full of minerals which makes it great for growing high-quality coffee. This alone is enough to up the price of any coffee blend. But there is another factor that contributes to Kona coffee is so expensive. It is also extremely good tasting – with flavors ranging from caramel to roasted chocolate

Top Tip: The Kona coffee belt is about 40 square miles, which means there is a limited amount of coffee that can be produced each year. Only 1% of the world’s coffee is Kona coffee.  

It also doesn’t help that Kona coffee is grown on an island. Shipping it from Hawaii can bring some extra costs to the whole process. It is also harvested by hand. This means that every single coffee bean is picked up by hand. As opposed to other coffee blends, Kona coffee is American grown. What exactly does this mean for the price of the coffee? Coffee that comes from countries with lower standards might cost less.

For example, coffee that comes from Kenya, Ethiopia, or Indonesia might be cheaper to produce, due to cheaper labor. But for Kona coffee, this is not the case. As we said, Kona coffee is American grown and produced. The good side is that there are regulations for minimum wage for the people who produce it, and the bad side is that you might end up paying a bit extra. But hey, if you ask us, it is worth it. At least you know what you are paying for.   

Where to Find Kona Coffee 

As we said, Kona coffee is extremely rare, and therefore very expensive. Even if you end up going to Hawaii you might think twice before buying a bag of Kona coffee. One thing you should be careful of is the Kona coffee blends. These are coffee blends and can contain as low as 10% Kona coffee beans. By law, 10% is the lowest percentage of Kona coffee a blend should contain to be called Kona blend.

Even though these blends are way cheaper, they are still not worth it. You will be better off just buying any other cheaper specialty coffee. At least you will know you are getting a 100% blend. 

If you are serious about trying Kona coffee, you will want to pay a bit extra for 100% Kona coffee beans. That way you will know what you are getting and will be able to enjoy the taste of a high-quality American grown and produced specialty coffee. Again, Kona coffee might not be an everyday item, but it is a great once in a while treat. 

Due to its rarity, Kona coffee will be difficult to come by. Even the biggest specialty coffee shops or roasteries might not have it. If they do, then great. But if not, there is always online shopping. This is great because you might even be able to get some reviews and opinions before you buy your coffee. Not to mention that you will have more options to choose from. 


Kona Coffee Berries Growing on a Bush

Author Note: Even in the world of specialty coffee, Kona coffee stands out. By its quality and by its origin. So it is no surprise that it also stands out by its price. But Kona coffee is worth it.

Starting from the fact that you are buying coffee that is grown in a perfect environment on soil from an active volcano to the fact that Kona coffee is American grown and produced. For one, volcanic soil is rich in minerals, unlike any other soil. The weather conditions in Hawaii are almost perfect for growing coffee. The climate is mild. It is warm and sunny in the morning, with cloudy or rainy afternoons, and then mild and warm nights.

And if this wasn’t enough, you will be happy to know that Kona coffee is not produced with cheap labor. Since it is 100% American grown and produced, it means that there are minimum wage laws in place for the people who produce it.

All in all, Kona coffee is a great treat for coffee lovers. It is of great quality, great origin, and ethical production. Sure, it might be expensive, but hey, save it for special mornings. We hope you enjoyed this article on why is Kona coffee so expensive.

Stay caffeinated friends!  

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