From the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival to over 600 local coffee farms, coffee looms large on the coast of Hawaii’s Big Island. Ranging from tiny patches just three acres in size to expansive, commercialized fields, coffee is big business in the Kona district, but more importantly, it’s also an expression of love that ties into the gentle Aloha tradition of affection, peace and compassion that saturates everything Hawaiians put their hands to. Flanked by sugary sand beaches, solidified lava flows, lush jungle and cold, white, torrential waterfalls, the Pacific laps the Kona coastline and the sun provides just the right amount of warmth for the humble coffee plant to flourish. For the coffee connoisseurs among us, here’s how to get your hands on the very best Kona coffee in Hawaii.
Taking a tour of a Kona coffee farm is a must for coffee lovers. Many roast their home-grown beans on-site, host a café that sells fresh samples of French press, flavored coffees, pour-over coffee, and many other types only the most devoted of coffee drinkers would be familiar with – and what’s more, several possess experts who’ll educate, inform and entertain visitors who are new to the intricacies of artisanal coffee. These farms are where local surfers congregate to shoot the breeze (when they’re not balancing themselves in the barrel of a wave), and where locals from all walks of life come in search of the best Kona coffee.
The crème de la crème of the vast patchwork of coffee farms is undoubtedly the 5.5-acre award-winning Kona Coffee Living History Farm, more officially known as the D. Uchida Coffee Farm (after its owner). America’s only living history coffee farm, the original farm was the product of hard-working early 20th century Japanese immigrants who pioneered the coffee industry here. Today, it not only continues to grow the most delicious coffee beans on the island, but also tells the story of the coffee industry in Kona between 1925-1945. By seeing the accomplished farmhands at work – dressed in traditional clothing of the period and using authentic kuriba and hoshidana mills – the history of the region’s famous coffee orchards comes to life; visitors emerge from its well-watered lands with a great sense of how Hawaiians have felt, thought about, and worked with coffee for over a century. And, of course, with a more personal affection for the quality of the coffee after sampling some freshly brewed Kona beans (and perhaps taking some home, too).
Once visitors have had their fill of coffee at the plantation, there’s still plenty to see and do in the area, from a leisurely stroll in Kealakekua Bay or Wailuku River State park (where the 80 foot Rainbow Falls are located), to a spot of snorkeling in the impossibly clear waters. Along the way, you might glimpse a 27-foot white obelisk, which is where Captain Cook famously died after the Hawaiians disbelieved his claims to divinity. Kailua is also within easy reach, with its scenic oceanfront restaurants and impressive landmarks, such as Maunawili Valley and the Lanikai Pillboxes, which offer stunning views of the Mokulua Islands and Koolau Mountains.
If talk of the best Kona coffee is leaving you itching to try it for yourself, why not join the Luxurious Hawaiian Escape journey with insight Vacations, while listening to Hawaiian vibes to get you in the mood?