We’re sure you have heard about how the by-now legendary Kona Coffee overwhelms taste-buds around the world. We’re sure you also have a pretty good idea about the distinctive locational and environmental conditions that contribute to the nurturing, growth and export of one of the world’s most sought after specialty coffees. Now, in case you find your curiosity to know every detail about Kona Coffee or the best Kona Coffee beans taking over you, here’s a blog about the journey of Kona Coffee – from the time it’s planted as a seedling to the stage it’s roasted and ready to delight the world of coffee lovers.
Step #1: A change of roots
The world’s most delectable coffee bursts into the world from the seed varietal called Kona Typica. This varietal, though endowed with a strikingly smooth and non-bitter flavor, comes with one inherent weakness. Roots that lack the strength to enable the complete progression from seed to tree. Another weakness of this varietal is susceptibility to disease which again, restricts a Kona seed from developing to its fullest potential. Kona farmers however have a way of circumventing this inherent problem. Grafting a stem of the weak Kona Typica varietal onto the root stock of a stronger varietal. This is done by cutting the seedling at a point closer to the soil and then clipping or tying it to the root stock of the stronger Liberica varietal, where it will merge and grow into a healthy Kona tree.
Step #2: From seed to fruit
With the Kona Typica seedlings finding a strong and stable support system to grow, the next stage is one of transformation. This is the period where the Kona coffee blossoms or Kona Snow – which is how the locals describe it, go from green coffee cherry to the ripened red cherry fruit. The ripening process takes months and varies according to the altitude of the farms. The higher elevation farms have lower temperatures compared to lower altitude farms, which results in delayed ripening of Kona cherries and a harvest season that extends longer than usual.
Step #3: Picking the best of the lot
The nature of harvesting plays a significant role in determining the flavor, aroma, fullness and overall experience of the resulting Kona Coffee beans. Kona farmers prefer handpicking over machine harvesting for one prime reason. Kona Coffee cherries do not ripen uniformly, all across. To explain this further, the Kona crop is an aggregate of cherries in various stages of ripening. For harvesting to yield the most desirable lot, farmers would need to pick only the most ripened cherries, leaving the less ripened ones for a later pick. This form of selective picking is optimally possible when farmers do the job manually.
Step #4: Uncovering the best Kona coffee beans
Once the ripened, bright red cherries are picked off the trees, the next task is to separate the beans which are embedded within the fruit pulp and covered with an external husk. One popular way is to immediately submerge the freshly picked cherries within water-filled tanks. The cherries are usually left to soak overnight, when the fermentation process kicks in and loosens the fruit pulp and husk. This makes it easier for the farmers to extract the beans within each cherry. Soaking coffee cherries in water is called the ‘washed’ coffee process.
Step #5: Giving the beans a little sun
After the Kona cherries have been de-pulped and de-husked, the next step is to sun-dry the washed coffees. The process of drying needs to be carried out at specific temperatures to ensure the moisture content of the Kona beans gets reduced to a target percentage of 12%. The reduction of moisture through drying eliminates the development of mold within the beans thereby, ensuring better preservation of the best Kona coffee beans until the next step – roasting. The extent of drying depends on the location of the farms. Farms with higher humidity or wetness levels rely on an additional source of drying besides the sun – propane fueled dryers, to expedite and optimize the process.
Step #6: Turning on the heat
This is the final step, which transforms the green Kona bean into the flavorful, aroma-rich and uniquely-textured Kona coffee. Simply put, the process of roasting leads to chemical changes that unlock the full inner characteristics of a green Kona bean. The most common method of roasting involves packing green Kona beans in a rotating drum that is exposed to indirect heat over a flame. The rotating drum ensures every portion of the beans gets exposed to a heat intensity that’s uniform for a time duration that’s consistent. The duration and intensity of the roasting process varies as per the distinct coffee characteristics that are to be achieved.
These are the six steps that take a climatically and naturally endowed coffee seed from the famed volcanic slopes of Hawaii’s Kona region to the ultimate mantle of the world’s most celebrated coffees. If you'd like to go from hearing about Pure Kona Coffee to experiencing the best Kona Coffee beans, reach out to us at Social Brew. We’re an ecommerce platform that specializes in bringing some of the world’s most exotic coffees including 100% Kona Coffee, 100% Waialua Coffee, Hawaiian Blend Coffee and Decaf Brazil Coffee to true coffee lovers across the US and even beyond. Our ‘Beyond The Cup’ philosophy ensures a significant portion of our profits gets channeled to the cause of rehabilitating victims of global human trafficking. So, visit socialbrew.us to buy Kona Coffee
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