What Makes 100% Kona Coffee More Expensive?

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Ever come across a bag of 100% Kona Coffee? If so, you have probably found yourself wondering why it costs more than other types of coffee. In reality, Kona coffee is less expensive than the cups of coffee people buy from a coffeehouse every morning. But it does tend to be a little more costly than the average coffee bag you may find in a grocery store. 

Here are three reasons why Kona coffee is more expensive - and why it’s worth every penny. 

1. Every Step of the Coffee-Making Process is Done By Hand

One of the biggest differences between 100% Kona coffee and other varieties is the pure effort and extreme care that’s put into making it. It takes NINE pounds of cherries to make ONE pound of coffee at Carta Coffee’s Nolyssa Farm. This is truly a labour of love, similar to that of crafting a fine wine - and you can taste the difference.

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Visit coffee farms in other countries and you’ll often find long strips of machinery harvesting cherries. From there, workers will pick out and toss spoiled cherries, creating a lot of waste. This isn’t the case in Kona. Every step of the Kona coffee-making process is done by hand, including the planting, cherry picking, sun drying, and roasting.

Kona farmers carefully hand-pick their cherries at the peak of maturity for six months. Since the cherries ripen at different times from August to late January, they can’t all be picked at once. No matter which bag of 100% Kona coffee you get, you can trust that it only has the ripest beans inside.

Experience 100% Kona Coffee

2. Remote and Often Challenging Location

Not only are Kona coffee farms isolated on an island; they are also on the side of the world’s biggest active volcano. You can image how difficult it is to get supplies to this location, let alone machinery. That being said, nutrients and supplies are needed to properly take care of the farms - and it’s expensive to get these supplies shipped over.

The Coffee Berry Borer beetle presents another challenge to the Kona coffee farmer. This beetle eats coffee beans from inside the cherry and can destroy up to 90% of a coffee crop if the farmer doesn’t carefully control them. It’s not unusual for 100% Kona coffee farmers to pick and throw out the infected beans by hand.

So why on Earth would farmers choose to build a coffee farm on the side of an active volcano on an island? Well, there’s a reason Hawaii is the only state in the US that grows coffee.

Coffee trees require a unique combination of sun, shade, and rainfall in order to flourish. Kona is one of the only places in the world that provides this perfect environment for the trees. The volcano also provides permeable soil that is filled with minerals, adding to the uniquely rich flavor of the Kona coffee beans. It’s terroir at its best, allowing for the production of some of the most complex and flavorful coffee beans in the world.


3. Workers Are Paid A Living Wage

Not many people think about the labor that goes into creating their morning cup of joe. But the type of coffee you choose to buy can affect hundreds of lives.

Many coffee workers in other countries aren’t paid a livable amount of money for their work. Children often work on these farms, making poverty wages.

Hawaii is the only American state to grow coffee. Everyone who works on a Kona coffee farm, from the pickers to the roasters, earns a living wage. This means that they make enough to maintain a normal standard of living in Hawaii. When you buy Kona coffee, you aren’t just choosing to enjoy one of the most flavorful cups of coffee in the world. You are also supporting our economy, sustainable work environments and fair wages.


100% Kona Coffee vs. Kona Blends

You may see Kona coffee sold at lower prices in major grocery stores. So what’s the deal with 100% Kona coffee?

Many coffee brands call their coffee “Kona coffee,” when in fact only 10% of the blend is made up of Kona coffee beans. Since these blends mostly include lower quality beans, you won’t be able to appreciate the Kona flavor at all - you might as well buy any bag of coffee.

100% Kona coffee, on the other hand, is blended with only the choicest Kona beans. You will be able to taste the Kona difference with every sip.

Carta Coffee’s founder, Scott Burr, believes that customers like you should not be surprised by a “10% blend” label or tricked into buying lower quality coffee than you expect. As a former winemaker, Scott is a firm advocate of establishing consistent growing, production and labeling standards for all coffee originating from Kona.  

He witnessed effective changes in Napa and Sonoma when the creation of AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) established what grape varietals at what percentage were allowed in order to be labeled a wine from a specific region. Consumers buying the wines from those regions no longer have to guess what is in the bottle.

Similarly, Scott would like consumers to have confidence that when they buy Kona coffee, they are getting exactly what they are expecting: the highest caliber of fine Kona coffee beans.


Is Kona Coffee Worth the Price?

There’s no doubt about it! Buying 100% Kona coffee is like buying a fine wine - you choose it for the quality and the flavor. Better yet, Kona coffee is not nearly as expensive as a nice bottle of wine for a tasting experience that is very similar.

For example, you can buy a 6 oz. bag of our Latitude - Traditional Process for $22. This bag should make around 16 cups of coffee if you use about .38 ounces for each cup that you make - so you’re really only paying just over $1 for each cup of delicious coffee you make. That’s much less expensive than what people pay every day for their sugary cups of coffee.

From taking in the aroma to enjoying your first sip, drinking Kona coffee is all about basking in what may be the most flavorful coffee you’ve ever had. As you smell your cup of coffee before you sip, you may note fruity, nutty, chocolate, caramel, or floral aromas. Once you enjoy your first sip, try to identify a citrusy sweetness with a buttery finish. Finally, as you hold the coffee in your mouth, you should also notice bright acidity and a body that’s full and creamy.

Buying Carta Coffee will elevate your sensory experience even higher. As a former winemaker, Carta founder Scott Burr puts flavor first when it comes to coffee making. Carta prides itself on using unique approaches to coffee production inspired by winemaking, including crafting side-by-side tastings of different processing styles.

You deserve to kick your days off with the highest quality coffee in the world. Be one of the first to enjoy the fruits of our farm from our inaugural Carta harvest. Our Captain’s Roast is our first signature roast, using a deep roasting technique to craft a rich, dark and slightly smokey cup of coffee.


Buy our Captain’s Roast here.

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