Why 100% Kona Coffee Beans From Hawaii?

Chances are high that you received or purchased a bag of Kona coffee as a visitor to Hawaii or a coffee aficionado. However, chances are also very high that your bag of coffee from Hawaii was labeled "Kona Blend" which contains a minimum of 10% of the real thing.

If the blend was produced outside of Hawaii, it may legally contain as little as one bean per pound! Or even worse, your coffee was labeled "Kona Style," "Kona Flavor," "Aloha Kona," or some misleading name that would not require any authentic coffee beans to be included at all.

In fact, you may have heard of the "Kona Kai" coffee scandal that hit the U.S. national news when Michael Norton fraudulently sold Central American coffees as Kona coffee at the high prices only the authentic coffee commands. That would be enough to scare off buyers, especially since the world coffee market is hardly regulated enough to prevent such scandals from happening.

However, soon after the scandal, the Kona Coffee Council and the Hawaii Coffee Association obtained a federal trademark for Kona-grown coffee. The State of Hawaii moved to create a new mandatory certification program that guarantees place of origin for all of Hawaii's coffee.

Recently, a labeling law went into effect requiring all packaging in Hawaii to distinguish 100% pure Kona coffee from a blend. Any coffee containing less than 100% Kona coffee must be labeled a "blend," and the exact percentage by weight must be printed on the package. A 10% minimum of authentic coffee beans is required for a coffee to be called a "Kona blend." Now the most conscientious of producers in Hawaii even list percentages of all coffees included in their blends.

The result is that Hawaii now has the most stringent set of regulations matched nowhere else in the world. Unfortunately, what applies in Hawaii does not apply anywhere else including in the rest of the U.S. What is a consumer to do?

Of course! Purchase authentic coffee beans only from reputable sources in Hawaii. Even those who prefer blends would be better off mixing their own to ensure the quality they want besides the fact that personal taste plays a huge role in creating a blend.

I use the following guidelines when making my own purchases:

1) Use word-of-mouth to find a reliable supplier. Customer experience is your ultimate guiding light. (Click here to see my Kona coffee supplier.) 2) Develop a personal relationship with your supplier. Nothing is better than a relationship of trust to help you sleep better at night.

3) Need we say it? Purchase only authentic product packaged in Hawaii. Let Hawaii's laws and regulations and the local coffee industry associations work for you. (If you want to see the actual document from the State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture, click here. )

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