Most Kona coffee farms that sell Estate coffee will blend the first 3 grades (Extra Fancy, Fancy, Number 1) together. There are a few farms that will regularly market Extra Fancy or Fancy, at a higher price of course, but this is a rarity in the market. Domain Kona, like most farms, blends the first 3 grades together for our Estate coffee. One good reason for doing this blend is that we are not pulling the best beans out and then selling you the rest as our Estate coffee.
Our Estate blend is always 25% Extra Fancy + 50% Fancy + 25% Number 1.
We always have our coffee graded when it is milled from parchment to green beans. Many farms do not do this, especially those that do not sell Estate coffee. The Off Grade gets sorted out and all the rest goes into their Kona coffee label.
At Domain Kona we then go one step further – we roast each grade separately. We then blend the grades of the same roast level together. The reason is that beans will roast more evenly and therefore better when they are all the same size. Since we offer 3 different roast levels and we use 3 different grades or sizes of beans – we do a total of 9 roasting lots. When you order a pound of our Medium roast you will get Extra Fancy, Fancy, # 1 beans that have each been separately roasted to our Medium level and then blended together. Most farms will blend their 3 grades of green beans together and then roast them to a certain level. It is certainly much easier and less expensive this way but you are not getting the best or really the same roast level on the different sized beans.
We believe it is better to roast each grade separately.
(see below a list of Kona Coffee grades)
Medium Roast : aka American roast – roasted to our specifications just to the point of releasing the beautiful aromas…round and full with a restrained acidity level and not a wisp of smokiness. Often the roast considered the best by the pros. Expressing all of the regional character of the bean without an abundance of roasted character. Clear and true, a coffee-connoisseurs roast !
Almost Dark roast : some people call it Full City roast – some call it Vienna – we call it like it is. It is slightly darker than a medium or City roast – expressing another level of intensity with that additional depth, a gentle edge of acidity and a deep, rich finish. Just shy of a true dark roast. Perfect for those in search of depth of character with restrained earthiness.
Dark roast : aka French roast … roasted long and evenly but never over-fired… ours is dark but not too dark and never oily. It is a light French roast. A perfect roast for those loving a densely-flavored, slightly smoky and very balanced character.
Black - Gold : this is our favorite roast. The combination of half Dark roast and half Medium yields the best of both, the medium offers a lovely center flavor of bright fruit and mouth-filling body, the dark lends a smoky nuttiness, gentle acidity and a lingering complex finish. All together a blissful cup !
Kona Coffee Bean Grades
Grading is based on size (bigger is better) and the number of beans with defects allowed per pound (the fewer the better). Grading is very important in estimating the overall quality of the harvest.
Kona Extra Fancy : The largest and richest of all the Kona coffee beans. These are size #19 (that refers to 19/64 inch)
Kona Fancy : A Fancy bean is slightly smaller than an Extra Fancy bean. For me, it is difficult to tell the difference between Fancy and Extra Fancy when looking side-by-side at bags of green beans. These are size #18.
Kona Number 1 : Unusual that “Kona Number 1” would be the third-best grade of Kona Coffee, but nevertheless, here it is. These are size #16 & 17.
Kona Prime : Typically, Prime is a grade to be used in blending. It isn’t bad coffee, but it tends to be utilized more frequently in the less expensive Kona coffee brands or as a primary component in the 10% Kona coffee blends.
Hawaii # 3 : Allows 35% defective beans by weight. It can never be labeled as anything more specific than Hawaiian Coffee, certainly not as Kona Coffee.
Off Grade : quality lower than Hawaii No. 3. Use of the term “Hawaii” in conjunction with the term “Off grade” is prohibited.
Kona Peaberry : As compared to other top notch beans, a Peaberry is a single, round bean…one per cherry rather than the typical two flat beans per cherry. Considered by many to be the ‘cream of the crop’ – they are denser and yield a richer flavor. Less than 5% of each harvest will qualify as Peaberry.