Avoiding the Kona Coffee Blend Scam

10 percent hawaiian coffee
Kauai medium roast coffee beans that are just 10% Hawaiian

by Lars H

I was recently burned TWICE on Amazon, fooled into purchasing what seemed to be very reasonably priced bags of Kona whole bean coffee.

Instead of buying bags of 100 percent coffee beans that are Kona, it turned out that I had purchased bags of coffee that were really just blends that had a small or unstated percentage of Kona beans, mixed with other coffee beans grown elsewhere.

First of all, it’s totally common and fine to buy whole bean blended coffee. Most coffee beans are blended and come from different countries, etc. Blended coffee can be the best tasting coffee you might ever experience, as a good roaster can choose different types of beans that compliment each other and make a better tasting coffee than any of the beans would be on their own.

But single origin coffee, where all the beans in the bag come from one farm, one country, one general location (like the clearly defined Kona area of the Big Island in the state of Hawaii) is also a great way to enjoy coffee.

I love Kona coffee because of the taste of coffee grown in this area, and also because they are American grown coffee beans. I think it’s totally cool to drink a coffee that was grown in the US by Hawaiian coffee farmers.

When I buy Kona, I specifically want to buy 100 percent Kona coffee for these reasons.

Kauai Coffee medium roast coffee beans, but only 10% Hawaiian

Shopping on Amazon, I recently saw a good deal on Kauai Coffee. Kauai Coffee is grown on the island of Kauai and is NOT Kona coffee, but it is Hawaiian coffee and tastes just as good as Kona grown coffee to me and is also American grown coffee.

At the same time, I bought another bag of whole bean coffee called Kona Waves by River Moon Coffee.

When I received both bags, I realized I had inadvertently purchased two different bags of blends that were not 100 percent Hawaiian coffee.

The Kauai Coffee bag was accurately and obviously labeled, so it was my mistake. I think what happened here is that I saw where it says 10% Hawaiian Coffee on the bag and misread it as 100%. So totally my fault.

River Moon Coffee just says “medium roast blend” with no further explanation.

But I felt that the Kona Waves coffee beans from River Moon Coffee was intentionally misleading, especially after studying the bag and the product description.

River Moon Coffee doesn’t disclose anywhere how much Kona coffee is in the bag! They will only say “under 50 percent” which could mean anything. 1 percent is under 50 percent. 49 percent is also under 50 percent. That’s a big range. Wouldn’t you want to know more specifically than that? I know I do.

The price of the River Moon Coffee was higher than many 1 pound bags of coffee, which also led me to believe it was 100 percent Kona.

But when I got the bag out to open it up, I noticed the word BLEND on the bag. I had already seen my mistake with the Kauai Coffee, which is what led me to study the other coffee more carefully.

I ended up emailing the roaster and asking about the blend. This is what they answered. “The pure Kona Coffee that we use is roasted separately. To make the Kona Waves I roast a proprietary blend of 2 single origin coffees at a dark full city level. After cooling  that batch, I blend in around 10% of the pure Kona and let it mix in the cooling tray for 10 minutes give or take.”

I am so disappointed that I spent the money on these blends instead of buying 100 percent Kona (or Hawaiian) coffee. I purchase coffee directly from Kauai Coffee all the time, and I have always bought 100 percent Hawaiian coffee when I bought it directly.

When I saw the Kauai Coffee on Amazon and saw that it was significantly cheaper, I thought I was getting a great deal. Turns out I was buying a cheaper coffee, which is why it cost less.

I will still drink these coffees, and maybe they’ll be very good coffees. But they are not what I intended to buy, and that makes a difference to me.

Below are what some 100 percent Kona coffees and 100 percent Hawaiian coffees look like, so that you know what the correct thing looks like and don’t waste your money like I did.

This says 100 percent Kona on the bag. Look for this!
Kauai estate coffee says 100 percent Kauai coffee, so you know it’s 100 percent Hawaiian grown
Near the top of the bag, it says 100 percent Ka’u, which is an area on the Big Island in Hawaii, where Kona is located.

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