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What is the difference between Kona coffee and regular coffee?

It’s a commonly known fact. Regular coffee is a mix of various types of coffees of different origins and quality levels. Kona coffee, on the other hand, is a type of coffee that’s cultivated in specific regions, at certain altitudes and under particular conditions. And while it's true that most coffee drinkers have heard about Kona coffee, the fact is, not many know the real difference between the two.

What makes Kona coffee different? Why would a coffee lover want to spend extra money on Kona coffee instead of regular coffee? This article will answer those questions and some more.

Growing Conditions

Regular coffee is usually grown at elevations above 4,000 feet. Kona coffee is grown at lower altitudes than most other coffees and at definitely more unusual places; to be more specific, the slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualalai volcanoes on the Big Island of Hawaii. Kona coffee enjoys a climate that’s ideal with plenty of sunlight, consistent rain and good drainage. In addition, the volcanic soil is rich in nutrients and minerals that give the beans their unique flavor.


The processing of Kona coffee is different from the process involved in the production of regular coffees and involves three steps:

  • Picking: The best kona coffee beans are picked by hand in a labor-intensive process that requires thorough knowledge of the bean and the plant. 
  • Drying: The beans undergo a process known as dry milling, where they are left to dry in the sun to reduce their moisture content to 11%. 
  • Roasting: The coffee is roasted in order to develop its flavor, which creates the unique aroma of brewed coffee.


Although Kona coffee beans are Arabica beans in classification, like all other quality coffees, they have a distinctive taste due to the unique variations in climatic conditions, soil type and processing techniques. Kona coffee tends to have a slightly milder, smoother taste than other coffees from other regions.

The taste can be best described as rich with a complex acidity that provides a bright, clean flavor with a smooth finish. Regular coffee on the other hand, will have a more acidic flavor than Kona coffee. 

To sum up, as compared to regular coffee that’s cultivated in farms across 70+ coffee growing countries, Kona coffee originates primarily on farms situated along the volcanic slopes of Hawaii’s Big Island. Regular coffee is more acidic with a bitter aftertaste while Kona coffee is milder in acidity with a smooth finish.

We’re Social Brew, an online e-commerce platform that’s dedicated to bringing the world’s most premium coffees into the lives of coffee lovers like you and that includes 100% Kona Coffee Single Origin. Also, we use the proceeds from the coffee you buy from us to help victims of human trafficking in rebuilding their lives. Buy your pure Kona Coffee or Hawaiian Blend Coffee from us and we’ll make sure the goodness of our specialty coffees goes beyond your cup.