Where to buy Kona while in Kona - Page 2

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
thirdcrackfourthwave

#11: Post by thirdcrackfourthwave »

jpender wrote:For years I was curious about Kona. I knew it was expensive. The stuff I saw for sale in little shops on the Big Island looked overroasted to me and I never bought any of that. The one time in my life I tried Kona I bought it from a well respected roaster on the mainland. I only purchased 4oz (for $40). I was hopeful for some sort of Nirvana $160/lb coffee experience and willing to settle for several good but overpriced cups. But instead I never got anything that wasn't sink-worthy. It was very disappointing.

I'm no longer curious about Kona.
I've literally had dozens and dozens of samples of Hawaiian coffee--the vast majority of it Kona-- a lot of it on the farms. I've only had a few good cups and when I went to buy one in the store it was exorbitant. Most Hawaiian coffee, imho, tastes like mediocre Central American coffee and you pay a premium for it. The last time I was on the Big Island our barista was from Seattle and I ran this buy her. Her response was, 'yup and that's why we don't serve Kona here unless people request it and want to pay the mark up.' I'm no longer curious about Kona either.

jpender

#12: Post by jpender »

From that same mainland roaster I also ordered some Kaʻu coffee that was very enjoyable. At $80/lb it was overpriced but at least it was nice coffee.

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iploya (original poster)
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#13: Post by iploya (original poster) »

The criticism and expectation is totally justifiable given the price premium. I still suspect the abuse of the word Kona in marketing is part of the perception problem. I can go to a retailer like Whole Foods or Central Market for example, and I bet a lot of places online, and find bags that claim to be Kona and maybe technically are, but for all the reasons we as coffee forum users are familiar with, there's no guarantee the result in cup. The coffee could be an inferior grade, it could be poorly processed, poorly roasted, stale, cut with some less expensive coffee, etc. (I think the same phenomenon happens with Jamaica Blue mountain and Costa Rican coffees, where not everything claiming to be those is the good stuff). But in my experience the *good* stuff from Kona is supremely rich, flavorful, and smooth in a way that sets it apart from others.

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iploya (original poster)
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#14: Post by iploya (original poster) »

...Since I ended up back at HD I figured I would add a photo. This is a shot of some ripening cherries out on property.


BaristaBob

#15: Post by BaristaBob » replying to iploya »

Just love that photo. When I was there in 2019 Hula Daddy and other coffee farms on the Big Island were suffering from some kind of coffee flower wilt or coffee bean fungus that was significantly reducing yield. Reduced yield meant increased price. Did they say anything about having the problem under control?

Also did you hear any talk about Kona Mokka? I heard these trees (originally from Yemen) are now producing.
Bob "hello darkness my old friend..I've come to drink you once again"

addertooth

#16: Post by addertooth »

The Green Kona beans are kind of a "kit" for you to roast a coffee within it's spectrum. On the lighter end you get a solid floral hit. On the roastier side, you get sweetness, chocolate and nuts. Both are quite mellow and smooth with a nearly non-existant acid hit. And yes, strongly roasted the character might remind you of some roasted Brazillian beans.

Few places make very light roasted Kona beans, as the "general masses" don't know how to interpret "floral" and see it as a Fault in the coffee. So they tend to roast darker, as everyone seems to think that the Chocolate and Nuts flavor is "dreamy". You have to please the mass market, and so some people get left in the dirt.

For the record, certified Green Kona beans run about $33 to $39 a pound at various places. You pay a 60ish dollar premium for someone else to roast it, and put it in a pretty little touristy package. Still, it is about the total experience.

jpender

#17: Post by jpender »

iploya wrote:...But in my experience the *good* stuff from Kona is supremely rich, flavorful, and smooth in a way that sets it apart from others.
Is it worth $100/lb?

I see you can order directly from Hula Daddy. Would that be a route to the "good stuff"? Would it be reasonably fresh? Or do you need to book a plane to Hawaii to find it?

addertooth

#18: Post by addertooth » replying to jpender »

I would suggest finding a reputable roaster who is local. Tell them what characteristics you want from the bean. Your native California has to be loaded with lots of roasters.

jpender

#19: Post by jpender »

We have lots of good roasters but none that I know of that will roast to my personal specifications. Anyway, I wouldn't know what to tell them exactly other than that I'd love to taste the "good stuff". I believe that it exists. I just want to know who sells it, reliably. And if it's worth the price.

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iploya (original poster)
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#20: Post by iploya (original poster) »

When I was there in 2019 Hula Daddy and other coffee farms on the Big Island were suffering from some kind of coffee flower wilt or coffee bean fungus that was significantly reducing yield. Reduced yield meant increased price. Did they say anything about having the problem under control?
I recall reading something a few years ago about the crop issues (and lots of products being out of stock). I did not ask her (the roaster, Laura) about that, but business seemed strong now and most of their products on their site appear to be in stock.

I did ask her (out of curiosity) why Kona is so expensive and what are the biggest cost contributors. I wondered about cost of complying with regulations especially in sensitive areas, cost of land (taxes, maintenance), cost of irrigation, etc. She said one of the biggest cost components is actually labor. I did not follow-up that question, but it occurred to me that labor in the U.S. is generally more expensive than in other countries where we buy beans, so it makes sense why the cost might be higher. All the stuff on the farm is hand picked, so labor intensive, though I believe that is the case in other countries of origin too.
The Green Kona beans are kind of a "kit" for you to roast a coffee within it's spectrum...
Interesting point on the green beans and roast levels. I brought home a medium-dark (edit: "Kona Sweet" black bag) and a relatively lighter roast (edit: "Kona Oli" gold bag), and I did get a bit more floral in the latter now that you mention it. Both of these were being sampled that day, and I actually thought the darker roast was surprisingly sweet as compared with what I get with most darker roasts. I asked her if she could pull me an espresso and turns out they don't do that there, though I see they have a new espresso blend being offered on the website.

That green bean price sounds expensive! I asked her if they sell green beans, and she indicated they don't normally but that it would be the same price as roasted. I told her that was fine with me, I would rather let someone else be the expert on roasting and that's one less thing for me to worry about.
Is it worth $100/lb?
Most of their sales are online, direct from the farm, always fresh. Is it worth $100/lb? I'm not sure. For me, once in a while. I have not bought it for a few years. It was easier to justify a few pounds into my vacation budget (plus I "saved" over $100 by not doing the formal tour). This is the kind of stuff I would buy more often years ago to chase after the best flavors I could find, when I was just doing automatic filter brewing, and before I got into espresso and started buying 5 lbs per month (for less than the cost of 1 pound of Kona). HD is the best I have found so far and it is always super fresh, direct from the plantation. I used to alternate orders with Smith Farms, which I felt was about 85% as good for around half the price.