Kona Coffee Quality
Standards and Labeling

Toughest Quality Standards - Even for a Gourmet Coffee

Standard grading of Kona coffee has been established by Kona growers, and all green coffee beans from Kona are inspected and regulated by the State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture, but a worldwide standard for quality in coffee actually does not exist. Hawaii's quality standards and labeling of coffee are the strictest and most defined in the world.

At this time, grading is based on size (the bigger the better), as well as the number of defects, such as broken or discolored beans. Most coffee cherries are segmented and separated into two beans. If a coffee cherry is not segmented, it is considered an exceptional grade called "Peaberry." Grades of normal segmented beans are based on bean size and number of imperfections and range from "extra fancy," "fancy," and "prime" to "number 1."

Coffee fanatics who wish to see the administrative document with official definitions and descriptions of the classifications are welcome to: click here for Kona coffee grades and peruse the details.

Labeling of Kona Coffee

In these days when consumers are bombarded by terms like "premium coffee," "specialty coffee," "gourmet coffee," etc., with no definitive agreement on what they all mean, how could anyone hope for anything better with Kona coffee? Happily, the story here looks much better thanks to the efforts of growers, distributors, and the State of Hawaii.

In a nutshell, labeling follows the following rules:

1. No coffee grown outside the defined region of "Kona" (North and South Kona districts) may be labeled as such.

2. Any package containing less than 100% Kona-grown coffee must be labeled "Kona blend." A Kona blend must contain at least 10% coffee beans from Kona by weight.

3. Kona blends claiming to be made of 100% coffee grown in Hawaii must stipulate the geographic origin in Hawaii by percentage. Any blends of Hawaii-origin coffee with non-Hawaii origin coffee must state percentage by weight as well.

Actual guidelines for the wording, actual type size, and placement on the package are provided by the State of Hawaii. Those who enjoyed reading the definitions and descriptions of different grades of Kona coffee will relish the details of Statute 486 of the consumer laws of the State of Hawaii. For those who wish to indulge further, even more information on proper and authentic labeling can be found in this pdf issued by the State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture. Enjoy!

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