Hawaii is known for producing all sorts of tasty, local treats like Macadamia nuts, pineapples and poke. For caffeine fiends, however, Hawaii is most celebrated for being the home of Kona coffee.
Grown on the cool slopes of the Hualalai and Mauna Loa Mountains in the Kona district of Hawaii’s Big Island, Kona coffee is among the world’s most delicious—and expensive. The coffee’s beans must be grown in the region’s mineral-rich volcanic soil, where they are treated to the native tropical afternoon showers and temperate weather, in order to be certified “Kona.” Once ready to be harvested, these near-sacred beans are meticulously hand-picked and sun-dried to achieve the coffee’s complex, deliciously rich and slightly acidic taste. There are now roughly 3,500 acres of land utilized for Kona coffee farming; together they produce about 3.8 million pounds of beans a year, which equates to a $14 million revenue stream for the region. Indeed, purchasing a bag of Kona coffee beans is a favorite purchase for visitors to Hawaii (they make the perfect cup of espresso or coffee ).
Coffee enthusiasts who are heading to the Big Island in the coming weeks may want to check out the annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival. The event, now in its 44th year and recognized as one of Hawaii’s oldest food festivals, begins Friday and runs through Nov. 16.
This year’s festival theme is “Bringing Kona Together,” which will be weaved into events such as the Kona Coffee Recipe Contest, the Miss Kona Coffee Scholarship Pageant, the Kona Coffee Cupping Competition, and non-stop tours designed to highlight the coffee’s nearly 200-year heritage. First planted by missionary Samuel Ruggles in 1828 or 1829, Kona is now an integral part of Hawaiian history—and our palates.
If travelers want a further in-depth experience with Kona coffee, Celebrity offers the Kona Coffee & Craters Holoholo Hualalai shore excursion for guests on a Hawaii cruise, which gives a first-hand look at the Kona coffee belt on the rugged slopes of Hualalai. As traveler “goforit” raves, the tour “was very interesting and informative” and, naturally, the coffee was “delicious.”