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Kona Coffee

A Top Quality Export

Kona coffee berries are grown on the Big Island of Hawaii
Kona coffee berries are hand-picked in Hawaii

Hawaii has a particular passion for coffee, since it's the only state in the United States to grow quality coffee. Coffee grows on Oahu, Maui, Molokai and Kauai, but the most renowned Hawaiian coffee comes from the mountainous slopes of the Big Island's Kona Coast. Roasted Kona coffee retails for about $27 to $30 a pound, second in the world only to Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, which retails for about $60 per pound. The reasons for this high price? First, simply, the smooth quality of Kona coffee, which has something of the suppleness of a great Burgundy. Second, because of the terrain on which it's grown, Kona coffee must be hand-picked. The average worker fills two 110- to 120-pound bags with coffee cherries in a day.

Kona coffee seal

The Kona coffee industry was worried in the mid-1990s when an unscrupulous West Coast dealer passed off cheaper Central American coffee as genuine Kona. The fraud was detected and didn't hurt demand for the real thing. Now, however, on a voluntary basis many Kona growers place a special seal on their product, indicating 100 per cent Kona. The seal is placed on bags only after contents are examined and approved by a state agricultural inspector, so the consumer can buy with confidence. Of course, people in Hawaii are not alone in their love for coffee. Nor do people in Hawaii drink only Kona.

(Updated: 11/27/12 JH)

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