With 3.8 million square miles in the U.S., less than 1 percent of it has the right climate and soil to grow coffee. This fine, exclusive American roast hails from Hawaii’s Kona Coast, along the slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualalai on the Big Island. With easy access to Hawaii in your private jet, a mere Kona “blend” isn’t good enough. Why drink a caffeinated beverage that only contains 10 percent of the good stuff? You deserve nothing less than a cup of fresh sun-dried, custom-roasted coffee with a silky chocolate finish to complete your mornings. Your next trip to the U.S. island paradise is the perfect time to stock up on the coveted beans, which also happen to be some of the most expensive in the world.
When to Visit
There’s never a bad time to fly to Hawaii on your private jet. If you’re going for the coffee, the best time to visit depends on what you want to see during a coffee plantation tour. To see the coffee bushes covered with Kona “snow,” or blossoms, visit in early March. By August, the plants are covered with berries that ripen to a cherry red color.
The coffee harvest season is between August and December, which is when workers handpick the best fruit. A 15-pound bag of coffee berries produces about 2 pounds of roasted coffee. This is the best season to visit if you want to see puplers at work, the fermentation process, and bean drying and roasting. In November, area residents hold their annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival.
The Best Kona Coffee Beans
Kona coffee classification varies by seed type. Type I beans have two beans per coffee berry, like traditional coffee beans. Type II beans have one peaberry, a single round bean, per coffee berry. Peaberries are rare and have the unique single-bean characteristic because the two sides of a coffee flower fuse together, giving the bean a distinct taste. Plantations then grade coffee beans by size, purity and moisture content.
Type I Kona coffee grades include:
- Kona Extra Fancy: Consists of the largest type of Kona coffee beans and the fewest defects, making them rare. The purity of the beans gives coffee a strong, full-bodied flavor.
- Kona Fancy: Consist of large coffee beans and have a smooth, medium-bodied taste
- Kona Number 1: A medium-sized bean with a nutty, mild flavor.
- Kona Select: A smaller coffee bean with 5 percent or fewer defects.
- Kona Prime: The smallest type of coffee bean; contains 25 percent or fewer defects.
Type II Kona coffee grades include Peaberry Number 1 and Peaberry Prime, which refer to the bean’s size. Some hail Kona peaberry coffee as the champagne of gourmet coffee.
Any coffee graded as “Number 3” does not meet the quality standards to be legally labeled as “Kona” coffee.
Kona Coffee Tours
There are about 650 coffee farms along Hawaii’s 3,500-acre coffee belt surrounding the Old Mamalahoa Highway. Get away from crowding tourists and book a private Kona coffee tour with a luxury car service, such as the Five Diamond Private Car Service or Global Rider. Private Kona coffee tours allow you to book the vehicle of your choice and visit the best coffee farms in Hawaii at your own pace. This unique experience gives you the opportunity to sample the finest coffee in the world and go behind-the-scenes. Customize the tour with stops at the Painted Church, for example, the Captain Cook Monument or historical buildings that are now upscale art galleries. Luxury hotels, such as the Fairmont Orchid, can also arrange Kona coffee tours on your behalf.