As an avid coffee drinker, Kona coffee is one of my favorite coffee cups to drink. Like its Arabica cousins, Kona coffee poses a subtle flavor profile, sweet, and has strong hints of fruit. However, not many people know what type of roast their Kona coffee is and what roast they should get.
Kona coffee is as versatile as it gets. It comes in several different roasts. Light roast Kona coffee is acidic yet less bitter, while medium roast Kona balances bitter and sweet. Dark roasts, on the other hand, tastes exactly like how it looks, bitter and burnt.
Each person has their preferred taste when it comes to coffee. Let us discuss what Hawaiian roast is the perfect fit for you and why.
What Is Kona Coffee Anyway?
Although it may have a different name and a different branding, at its heart, Kona coffee is a variant of our trusty ol’ Coffea arabica. Yes, you heard that right! The coffee you buy at Starbucks is kind of similar to the ultra-premium Kona coffee.
Although Arabica coffee is ubiquitous, it is, in reality, one of the best variants of coffee out there, known for its subtle flavor palette.
Kona coffee takes this a step further, introducing a whole new world of subtlety yet still making your cup of coffee taste as flavorful as always, just not as on the nose as other coffee variants out there.
Kona coffee is unique because it is only grown in a small portion of Hawaii, called the Kona coffee belt, a region with an elevation of 500 to 3000 feet above sea level.
This coffee belt on the Big Island makes for excellent coffee beans due to its height, loam, volcanic soil, and sufficient rainwater supply, at around 60 inches per year average.
What Makes The Kona Coffee Belt So Special? Four Reasons
- Has consistent 20-degree (Celsius) weather with temperatures not dipping below the 12-degree mark.
- Has volcanic soil that does not retain water. Coffee dislikes soil that contains a lot of water.
- Although not a fan of water-retaining earth, Kona coffee likes to be blessed with rain. The Kona coffee belt has consistent amounts of rain, enough for growing, and not too much that it hampers growth.
- Have you noticed how most of the world’s coffee is grown in the mountains? Coffee loves high altitude areas, and the Kona coffee belt is around Hualalai mountain and Mauna Loa.
What Type Of Kona Coffee Roast Is Fit For Me?
I always liked to joke around how “If you tell me what your preferred coffee roast is, I will tell you who you are.”
Although I confess that there is no correlation between personality and coffee roast (what a bummer), there is a strong relationship between your preferred taste flavors and the type of coffee roast that you like.
Before that, you will need to learn about the three common Kona coffee roasts available. These are the following:
Kona Coffee Roasts
- Light Kona coffee roast
- Medium Kona coffee roast
- Dark Kona coffee roast
To grasp what these three roasts are, I will explain what these roasts are and who they are best for and why. Let’s start!
Light Kona Roast: For The Love Of Flavor
When buying Kona coffee, you should get the light roast to get the most bang for your buck if you ask me personally.
Kona coffee is one of the most expensive coffee beans in the world, and for the love of man, I should be able to taste every single drop. However, not all agree with me on that, and I understand.
Light Kona coffee roasts are roasted the least compared to the other roasts, making them look brown. What is impressive is that because light Kona coffee roasts do not overcook the sugars and the elements inside the bean, all the essential flavors and taste palettes will be very apparent. It would be an issue if you were buying cheap coffee beans, but this is Kona coffee!
Lightly roasted Kona coffee presents all its flavors upfront, with its fruity, floral taste and a light signature. Excitingly, it preserves all the flavors after brewing.
Moreover, light Kona coffee roasts are also virtually oil-free and full of acidic flavors. If you want to taste delicate flavors, minimal bitterness while enjoying the acidic and exquisite taste palettes, be sure to choose light Kona roasts.
Who Suits Light Kona Roasts The Best?
- Those who like acidic flavors
- Those that want to taste complex flavors
- Those wanting high caffeine content
- Sweet tooths
- Has a taste of “twang”
- Those who value sweetness and flavor over bitterness
Who Should Avoid Light Kona Roasts?
- Bitter coffee lovers
- Those wanting a more “mature” taste
- Those who resent light flavors
Medium Kona Roast: For The Love Of Balance
Medium Kona coffee roasts, known as “City Roast Kona,” are the amalgamation of balance. Medium roasts often feature a more toned-down acidic taste while uplifting the light roasts’ previously subtle bitter taste palettes.
Because medium roasts are roasted longer, the exquisite flavors of the Kona coffee, like the floral notes, are not as apparent. However, in its stead is the chocolate-like bitter flavor of Kona.
At this point, the sugars of the Kona roast have caramelized, creating a new, more “mature” taste yet still leaving the signature Kona flavors.
This Kona roast is the most traditional in contrast to the dark and light variants. This conventionality makes this roast taste and feel more familiar in comparison, making them suitable for people who are appalled to robust flavors.
The acidity level of this roast is significantly subtler compared to the light roast. With that, since the bean has been roasted until oils start to form, they come with a more oily sheen as well.
Who Suits Medium Kona Roasts?
- People with a taste for conventionality
- Those that like a perfect balance of bitter, sour, and sweet
- People that prefer a smoky flavor yet still have the origin characteristics feel apparent
Who Would Dislike Medium Kona Roasts?
- People that like a lot of acidity in coffee
- Those wanting a more “robust” coffee flavor
- People that love bitter coffee
- Sweet tooths
Dark Kona Roasts: For The Love Of Robust Flavors, Muted Acidity
The Dark Kona roasts are those that love a robust bitter flavor. This roast is less about the exquisiteness, nor is it about the origin flavors of Kona. Dark Kona roasts are all about the smoky flavor, with palettes of bitter and chocolate taste palettes apparent.
The sugars of the Dark Kona roast have burnt at this point, so do not expect a sweet cup. After all, the sugars have gone beyond sweet and turned bitter as well. The prolonged roasting process results in a roast full of deep notes of muted acids and an intense chocolate flavor.
Who Would Like Dark Kona Roasts?
- People that prefer chocolate flavors in coffee
- People that dislike acidic coffee
- Non-dairy additions to Dark Kona coffee are preferred, so people who dislike dairy will prefer Dark Kona roasts.
- Those that love a brown sugar flavor
Who Would Dislike Dark Kona Roasts?
- Those that love the flavors of Kona
- People that cannot stand bitter flavors
- People that love acidic roasts
- Sweet tooths
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Kona Roasts Expensive?
Kona coffee beans are one of the most expensive coffee beans in the world. If you would like to buy one, make sure to have a big budget.
Can You Grow Kona Roasts Outside Of Hawaii?
No, you cannot. Protected by intellectual property rights (geographical indications), Kona roasts cannot be grown just anywhere. Just like champagne and certain types of cheese.
Are There Only Three Types Of Roasts?
There are over seventy variations of coffee roast levels, aside from Light, Medium, and Dark.