Kona Coffee Tasting Tour and Cultural Events – Fun For All!

Categorized as Big Island Vacation Information

I love Kona!  Where else can you visit gourmet Kona coffee farms on the mountain slopes in the morning – sipping world-class aromatic coffees and meeting farmers – and then in the afternoon enjoy a concert on the lawn of a royal palace by the sea.  I have a great Kona Vacation Rental right near the beach, and I come here over and over again.

The next free concert at Hulihee Palace in downtown Kailua Kona is August 23. Alii Drive will become a pedestrian-only. These events are very enjoyable as area artists, musicians, merchants and local restaurants all contribute to the festive atmosphere.

You can also take a 60-minute self-guided tour of Kona Town with the Kona Historical Society starting at the King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel. Of course there are lots more fun things to do in Kona, but right now I want to tell you about the Kona coffee farms and farmers.

The coffee-growing region is known as the “Kona Coffee Belt” along the cool and fertile volcanic slopes.  This prime coffee-growing area is about thirty miles long but only one mile wide, at elevations ranging from about 500 feet to 2,500 feet, and only coffee grown here may be called Kona Coffee.

Kona’s sunny mornings help the plants thrive and then afternoon clouds provide shade and protection from the hot sun.  The misty and rainy afternoons also provide adequate moisture, and the nighttime temperatures never get too cold, and no frost that can damage the coffee crop.

The Kona Coffee Belt has the perfect combination of sun, soil, and water, and along with careful processing these things combine to create a coffee with a worldwide reputation as one of the most sought after and expensive types of premium coffee.  Indeed, many coffee connoisseurs consider Kona to be the finest gourmet coffee – try some on your tour and see!

Kona coffee has a delicate flavor yet it is quite full-bodied, depending upon the roast, and has a very caramelly aroma.  If you want to see what creates this great coffee you are in luck because the coffee’s deep red fruits are ripening on the trees in summer.  Picking begins at the end of August.

A good route for your self-guided coffee tasting tour is to begin in Kailua Kona and go north on Palani Road (Hwy. 190).  The average size of a Kona Coffee farm is about five acres, and most Kona coffee farms are family-run operations.  In all about 4,000 acres in Kona are farmed in coffee.

You may want to first visit Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation and then head into Holualoa Town where you can visit Ueshima Coffee Company and also the Ferrari Coffee Visitor Center, which is across from the hot pink 1920 Kona Hotel. A roadside kiosk at Ueshima Coffee Company’s Kona Coffee Estate has great views of the coffee fields and the ocean beyond.

Next you can stop at the 500-acre Kona Blue Sky Coffee Company estate which offers tours without reservations, and further south is Holualoa Coffee Company.

You will come across other farms as well, so look for signs and be spontaneous.  Also check out this Driving Tour Map.  Some Kona farmers roast their own beans and sell them.  In fact, more than 100 private Kona coffee labels are available.

Numerous tours of Kona coffee farms and mills are available, and there are also some visitor museums and shops amongst the estate farm plantations.

The most celebrated event of the year is the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival which is hosted by the Kona Coffee Council. This year the Festival begins on November 1 and includes cultural programs, coffee tastings, art showings, a coffee picking contest and many other events.

If you are a history buff then you will enjoy the Kona Coffee Living History Farm on Mamalahoa Highway in Captain Cook.  The History Farm provides interesting information about Kona’s coffee pioneers, including a museum that was homesteaded in 1900, and there is also a coffee and macadamia nut farm.

Interpretive guides in period costumes lead hands-on tours of the coffee mill and other areas of the farm.

The Kona Historical Society has more than 1,000 members and maintains two historic sites including a research archive, and they run public history programs using off-road tours, lectures, and living history programs.

I also like that the tour fees help to fund the ongoing programs at the Kona Historical Society, and if you become a member so I can receive the newsletters and invitations for special events.  I know I will be returning several times this summer, relaxing in my Kona Vacation Rental and enjoying all of the wonderful things to do in this lovely town.

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