Kona Coffee Vs Ethiopian Coffee - The Clash Of The Coffee Titans!

Kona Coffee Vs Ethiopian Coffee – The Clash Of The Coffee Titans!

Last updated on March 3rd, 2024 at 11:43

In the great debate of Kona coffee Vs Ethiopian coffee is a real clash of the coffee titans! Both are distinctive, delicious and different.

This article is dedicated to helping you to decide which one is best for you and what hits the spot for your own coffee taste and likes. I try to be impartial, opinion free and offer only my thoughts based on my own experience as a coffee lover.

Let’s get down to the great debate of Kona coffee vs Ethiopian coffee.

What Is Kona Coffee?

Kona coffee is the name given to coffee that is grown, harvested and cultivated on the volcanic slopes of Mount Mauna Loa and Mount Hualalai in Hawaii’s Big Islands’ Kona District. The Kona coffee belt is only 30 square miles, 30 miles wide and 1 mile long.

Due to being the only coffee fully grown, harvested and roasted in the western hemisphere and being a specialty gourmet coffee, it is amongst the most expensive coffees that you will find.

Only coffee that originates from the North or South Kona District of Hawaii’s big island can be called Kona.

Like Sumatran coffee, it is one of the few types of coffee beans that can be described as a volcanic coffee.

What Is Kona Coffee
Kona Coffee, Hawaii’s Best Coffee Is Amazing

Read: What does Kona mean?

The History Of Kona Coffee

The history of one of the great cups of coffee involves royalty, politics, international travel, an untimely death and a convenient but lucky stop over.

Coffee, if you did not know, is not native to Kona or Hawaii.

Hawaiian King Kamahameha II, in 1823, with Chief Boki, the governor of Oahu, travelled to England. Unluckily, King Kamahameha II caught and died of the measles before he could return to the big island.

On the way back, Chief Boki took a prolonged stop-over, breaking up his sea faring travels in Brazil, where he bought some coffee plants and took them back to Hawaii.

Five years later, Samuel Ruggles brought the coffee plants to Kona where it thrived and from 1850 to the early 1880s’ Kona coffee and the whole industry grew exponentially with several coffee plantations well established. These were the earliest coffee plantations on Big island, many are still in business today with the same families running them.

In the early years of coffee farming in the coffee plantations, the predominant workers were Japanese immigrants. Today, it is still the same descendants, 5 generations, and 6 generations in some cases that are working in Kona coffee production, roasting, harvesting and using the same traditional techniques of cultivation free from machinery.

In total, there are almost 700 Kona coffee farms, most of which are family owned and run. Most of them offer coffee tours of their farms and coffee plantation with ample coffee tastings.

All this is from the coffee plant and coffee seedlings brought to Hawaii back 200+ years ago by Chief Boki.

The History Of Kona Coffee
Spilling The Beans About The History Of Kona Coffee

Read: Kona coffee Vs Arabica

What Is The Best Kona Coffee?

Before I name the best Kona coffee, you should be aware of what you are buying or trying. It is absolutely my advice that you avoid Kona blends or any Hawaiian Kona blend coffee as these contain very little in the way of Kona beans.

Blends have as little as 10% Hawaii Kona coffee beans. This is akin to taking a great bottle of wine and watering it down with cheaper, lower quality wine, labelling and selling it as the higher quality wine.

You will get the best taste and coffee experience from a 100% Kona coffee. Don’t just look for Hawaiian coffee as not all Hawaiian coffee is Kona, specifically look for Kona coffee, 100% Kona and labelled as “Extra fancy” the term is in reference to the beans being of the highest quality.

Koa Coffee Peaberry Kona coffee and Hawaiian Kona Extra fancy by Volcanica are the best two that I suggest that you try out.

What Is The Best Kona Coffee
Start With The Best Kona Coffee And You Will Just Love It

What Is The Best Roast For Kona Coffee?

Getting the best cup of coffee is simply not just identifying a type of coffee bean. You need to consider the roast. Get it wrong, use the wrong roast, and you will not get the best flavors and notes out of your beans.

For Kona coffee, the best roast is a Vienna roast or a medium or medium dark roasts. You get the best from the chocolate-nutty tones and the hints of cinnamon.

If you are an espresso lover, lean towards a medium-dark roast for your Kona coffee beans to get the best results. If you go for a dark roast you will end up losing a great deal of the unique flavor profile of the beans.

What Is The Best Brewing Method For Kona Coffee?

Now you know what the best Kona beans, best brand and the best roasting profiles are, to get the best tasting cup of coffee from your Kona beans you need to use the best brewing method. By far slow brewing methods with a good extraction time to allow for the unique and subtle flavors of your Kona coffee beans to be drawn out.

Cold brew, French press, Chemex and pour over are the best brewing methods for Kona coffee. When you are using your Chemex or pour over, do so with a metal filter to allow for all the coffee oils to be drawn out and fill your cup with the rich flavors and aromas from your specialty coffee beans.

Can You Make An Espresso With Kona Coffee Beans?

Absolutely yes!

You can indeed make an espresso with Kona coffee beans and make a very good espresso with a rich, thick crema on top. To get the best results and maintain the great flavor profile of Kona beans, I advise against using a dark roast and opting for fresh medium dark roasted Kona coffee beans to make your Espresso.

What Is Ethiopian Coffee?

The simple answer is, Ethiopian coffee is coffee that is grown and cultivated in the East African nation of Ethiopia.

For coffee lovers and coffee enthusiasts, Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee with Yirgacheffe being the very first coffee bean ever after a local goat farmer noticed his herd were more stimulated and active after chewing on the cherries from a certain tree, the coffee tree.

It took a while to perfect the use of the cherries due to them being hard and inedible and the raw green beans being very green and grassy when brewed with the raw unroasted beans.

Ethiopian coffee is floral, bright, fruity and more acidic than other coffees. They have a medium body and a complex, enjoyable flavor profile.

What Is Ethiopian Coffee
Ethiopian Coffee Is The Original And Best Coffee And Makes Great Espresso

The History Of Ethiopian Coffee

Coffee, thanks to Ethiopia, is a thousand-year-old drink, almost a millennia and half of history behind it when the Coffea Arabica tree was first cultivated and drunk in the Kaffa area, home to Yirgacheffe coffee.

Back then, the country was known as Abyssenia. Around the year 850 AD, Kaldi, a local Goat herder, at the request of his wife, collected and took the coffee berries to the local monastery for monks to try.

The monks, after feeling so stimulated and elated, claimed the berries were the work of the Devil and proceeded to throw the coffee berries on the fire.

After a short while, the smoke from the fire filled the room with the aroma and fragrance of freshly roasted coffee beans. Intrigued, the monks investigated, raked the fire and collected the hot roasted beans, crushed them. At this point the head monk requested that hot water be poured on the crushed beans and freshly brewed coffee was born.

It is said the monks stayed up all night long drinking their newly created beverage and consumed it regularly during their late night devotion.

Soon after, coffee became a regular drink enjoyed throughout the nation.

What Is The Best Ethiopian Coffee?

In my own humble opinion, head and shoulders above all Ethiopian coffee and the best, by far, is Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee. One brand to try is by Volcanica which has a bright flavor and can be used to brew an espresso shot.

For the next best try Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Kochere coffee. It has a mild body with honey and citrus notes. It is nice, bright and crisp.

By far, the best Ethiopian coffee is Yirgacheffe. If you have never tried Ethiopian coffee, start with the best!

What Is The Best Roast For Ethiopian Coffee?

Regardless of which Ethiopian coffee you try, the best roast profile is a medium roast. Ethiopian coffee, due to the flavor profile and floral notes, a medium roast is best roast.

Light roasts and blond roasts can be even better, depending on your own personal taste preferences.

What Is The Best Brewing Method For Ethiopian Coffee?

A French press, which gives you full and complete control over all the variables involved in the brewing process. Importantly, it has a great long extraction process that will help you to get the full flavor from the beans is the best brewing method for Ethiopian coffee.

What Is The Best Brewing Method For Ethiopian Coffee
The French Press Is An Excellent Brewing Method For Ethiopian Coffee

Can You Make An Espresso With Ethiopian Coffee?


it is likely to be an espresso shot with no or very little crema due to being best enjoyed with medium and lighter roasts.

To get a good quality crema you need to have beans with a lot of oil on the exterior. This will not happen with medium and lighter roasts. It is totally fine to use the espresso shot produced to make the espresso based milky drinks like a latte, flat white, mocha, cappuccino, cortado and more.

Frequently Asked Questions About Kona Coffee Vs Ethiopian Coffee

It doesn’t matter if you are a coffee aficionado, a coffee lover, just someone that loves a great cup of coffee, true Kona coffee is something that you must try. It’s rare, very limited, and great tasting single origin coffee. It’s pretty tasty to boot! There is no doubting its place as one of the very best coffees in the world.

Although the “best” is subjective, Kona coffee makes the top 5 for most coffee experts.

The coffee that is most similar to Ethiopian is Guatemalan coffee. It has the same hints of cocoa and fruity notes and cocoa hints.

Ethiopian coffee is a regular feature and is considered by many coffee lovers and experts to be one of the best coffees in the world. This is due to the perfect altitude and climate for the cultivation of coffee. Most coffee farms in Ethiopia cultivate the heirloom variety of Arabica coffee, which is considered as the queen of all coffees.

The coffee that is most similar to Kona coffee in terms of taste is Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, Sumatran Manheling Coffee and Sulawesi Toraja Coffee.

Why Is Ethiopian Coffee So Special?

Ethiopian coffees are special, very special. Their premium coffee beans are considered as almost always the best or second best in the world due to their great taste, complexity, wine-like quality and peak acidity.

It is always a heads or tails as to which is the best, Ethiopian Coffee or Panamanian Geisha coffee.

Which Country Has The Tastiest Coffee?

It is considered by many coffee experts that Ethiopia over all has the very best coffee. It is always a close content every year, each growing season between Panama Geisha coffee and Ethiopian coffee.

Frappé-Ing It All Up – Kona Coffee Vs Ethiopian Coffee

In the battle of Kona coffee Vs Ethiopian coffee, it is a difficult choice to pick a winner. While I love Ethiopian coffee and a soft spot for yirgacheffe, Kona coffee edges it for me due to being able to make a better espresso.

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Derek Marshall, a certified barista by the Specialty Coffee Association possesses over two decades of experience in specialty coffee shops. He holds professional certifications for coffee brewing and barista skills. Derek is also an author with authoritative books covering various coffee topics including specialty coffee, sustainability and coffee, coffee brewing, coffee recipes, coffee cocktails and books focusing on Brazilian coffee, Vietnamese coffee, Indonesian coffee and Malaysian coffee. As a barista for over two decades, Derek Marshall has worked in specialty coffee shops across the United Kingdom, Spain, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. His expertise extends to the distinct coffee cultures, specialty beverages, and brewing techniques of each nation. Functioning as a coffee consultant, Derek charges US$50 per hour. To learn more about Derek Marshall and Latte Love Brew, visit his About Me Page. For coffee inquiries, contact him at +34-639-410-375 or Derek@LatteLoveBrew.com, mentioning your name and location

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