If there's any destination that's absolutely tailor-made for the coffee lovers of the world, it's Hawaii. The Big Island is home to none other than the famed Kona coffee, which is touted for being one of the best coffee blends in the world. The combination of the Big Island's volcanic landscape meets the warm, humid weather patterns that allow these coffee plants to grow so well which, in turn, makes a delicious cup of coffee.

Of course, there's plenty that happens prior to these beans becoming a cup of joe, and those interested can take a Hawaiian coffee tour to find out more. If the process from bean to cup is fairly foreign, though, here's what one can expect on one of the Big Island's famed coffee tours - and why they're worth taking.

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What One Can Expect On A Kona Tour

Travelers must realize that there's not just one Kona coffee tour to rule them all on the Big Island; with more than 650 coffee farms across the island, there are many tours to choose from. However, most of them sport the same features and will educate visitors on the process, as well as providing samples of the coffee beans grown on-site. While not every farm will offer tours, there are more than 20 farms that do, and they can all be found along the scenic roads on the Big Island.

The tours start out by taking visitors around the plantation where the coffee plants are grown. This is where one will learn about how the plants grow, the conditions required, why the Kona plant is so unique to the Big Island, and how the beans are harvested once they've matured. If guests time it right, they'll be able to see plants at various stages of growth. From here, visitors will learn about the process post-harvest: drying, processing, and roasting.

At the end of a tour, guests are then taken back to a showroom or shop where they're usually given a complimentary cup of Kona coffee. This experience, in itself, makes the tour worth it, because not many people have the chance to try a genuine cup of Kona straight from the farm on which the coffee beans were grown. The word 'fresh' doesn't even begin to describe it, and it's likely unlike any cup of coffee one has ever had in their life.

  • Average Tour Length: About 30 minutes
  • Transportation: Most tours require guests to drive themselves to the farm
  • Cost: Many of the tours are free, but must be scheduled ahead of time to reserve a spot
  • Best Time To Go: Since Hawaii's weather is pleasant most of the year, there's no 'bad' time for a tour - what guests will see simply depends on what part of the growing cycle they show up during.

Why Is Kona Coffee So Significant?

Hawaii is known for this coffee, in particular, and while it's available in many places around the world, there's no better place to try it than on the Big Island. These beans are world-famous because there are only two volcanoes on the island around which the plants grow, making them one-of-a-kind.

The reason for this is the porous soil that's mineral-rich thanks to the volcanic activity around it, to which the plants take like no other. These locations also experience minimal wind, mild temperatures at night, sunny mornings, and occasional rainy afternoons, making it the perfect - almost controlled - environment. The altitude (around 3,000 feet) is another reason why these coffee beans result in such pure, mild-flavored coffee.

Kona 'Snow' And Kona Berries

Those who are avid coffee fans might know about the white flowers that appear on the Kona plant, known as Kona 'snow.' These flowers bloom between the months of February and March, and are incredibly fragrant, not to mention beautiful. The result is an entire field that's in full bloom with these delicate white flowers, thus the name - it often looks like the entire farm has been covered in a layer of fresh snow.

Kona berries appear on the plants during the month of April, and these are what replace the bright white flowers that are seen in the previous months. When the plants mature and the flowers fall off, these bright red berries grow and remain until they turn green, which means they're mature enough to be picked. The berries are hand-picked because not every berry will mature at the same time, which means that green berries may appear anywhere between August and January.

Coffee Tours In And Near Kona

For those staying near Kona, these farms operate their own tours (some are guided, while others are self-guided).

  • Kona Coffee Living History Farm (Self-guided with admission)
  • Rooster Farms (Free guided tours by appointment)
  • Sunshower Coffee Farm (Private tours + $25 coffee tasting & roasting lesson)
  • Kuaiwi Farm ($15 guided tour)
  • Heavenly Hawaii Coffee Farms (Free guided tour + tasting on Lanai)
  • Mountain Thunder Kona Coffee (Free & VIP guided tours)
  • Hala Tree Coffee (Free guided tours)
  • Buddha's Cup (Guided tours & free coffee tasting)
  • Ueshima Coffee (Tours by reservation only)
  • Hula Daddy Kona Coffee (Free guided tours of orchard and roasting room)
  • Kona Joe (Free self-guided tours & paid guided tours)
  • Greenwell Farms (Free guided tours)
  • Holualoa Kona Coffee Company (Self-guided tours)

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