Dedicated coffee drinkers know that some of the earth’s best brew comes from the Big Island’s “coffee belt” on the slopes above Kailua-Kona. See where the prized beans are grown and sip the product straight from the source on a Kona coffee tour.
- Discover one of Hawaii’s oldest traditions and most famous exports.
- Visit a working coffee plantation to watch the journey of beans from crop to cup.
- Learn how to identify real Kona coffee and why it’s worth its steep price.
- If you’re short on time, combine a coffee farm tour with other Big Island adventures like a visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park or a tour of Kona Coast highlights.
Top Kona Coffee Plantations
Many of Kona’s more than 600 coffee farms are open to the public. Most are located on the slopes of Mauna Loa and Mt. Hualalai, making the West Shore’s Kailua-Kona a good base for exploration. The best-known name on the island, Greenwell Farms has been winning awards for its coffee since 1873. Coffee tastings and tours of the fourth-generation farm are offered daily. At Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation, learn the growing process from master cuppers who judge the cupping competition at the annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival. A little farther south, Hula Daddy Coffee promotes eco-friendly growing practices, while Kona Coffee Living History Farm boasts the distinction of being the only living history coffee farm in the US.
Kona Coffee History
After first being planted on the Big Island in 1828 by missionary Samuel Ruggles, Kona coffee began pleasing the palates of coffee lovers around the world with its distinct aroma and flavor, even drawing rave reviews from Mark Twain after the writer’s visit to Hawaii. The island’s fertile volcanic soil and high, sheltered slopes that receive an abundance of both sunshine and rain make for near-perfect growing conditions. You can purchase a bag of beans to take home around the Big Island—just be sure to look for “100% Kona Coffee” on the label to guarantee you’re getting the real deal and not a blend.