Hawaii is the only state in the United States where coffee is grown. You’ve probably heard of Hawaii’s famous Kona coffee, but today, Kona is no longer the only coffee variety grown around the state.
Down Hawaii’s Garden Isle, what was once a sugar company during Kauai’s sugar plantation era is now the biggest coffee grower in the U.S. The Kauai Coffee Company, or just Kauai Coffee, has a leading edge in coffee production and is the sole producer of a few coffee varieties.
Thus, a trip to Kauai can be a coffee lover’s dream come true. You can either visit Kauai’s Coffee estate or stop by the many coffee shops in Kauai to get a taste of the highly selected coffee varieties on the island. If this sounds like your kind of adventure, read on to get acquainted with the 6 kinds of coffee cultivated in Kauai.
6 Best Coffee Varieties in Kauai
Acaia, also known as Acaia Cerrado, is a rare coffee variety originating from Brazil. Its name translates to “great fruit”, which will make sense when you notice that it produces a large bean and fruit.
When roasted, the Acaia variety emits a sweet fragrance and tastes like a mix of chocolate, caramel, and nut. It’s a more acidic and mild-bodied variety, with hints of citrus and tea-rose in its fragrance and taste as it cools down.
2. Red and Yellow Catuai
The Catuai variety makes up approximately 80% of the coffee grown on Kauai Coffee’s farm. It grows well under a lot of sun, making it a perfect variety to grow on the island.
Being a mix of Mundo Novo and Cattura varieties, Catuai produces a sweet, caramel-like earthy aroma when roasted. The flavor is also described as sweet, and tastes heavy with lower acidity. With its tropical fruit undertones, fans of the Catuai variety often say it feels like a mini-vacation in a cup!
3. Jamaican Blue Mountain
Considered one of the rarest coffee types in the world, the Jamaican Blue Mountain can be one expensive yet interesting variety. This type of coffee is known for its unique aroma and lack of bitterness. So unlikely for coffee, right?
The cultivation of the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee variety is monitored by the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica. Hence, only certified entities may use the Blue Mountain label.
Nevertheless, Kauai Coffee got the chance to acquire the Blue Mountain varietal in 1990 and planted it on Kauai soil. This resulted to the Kauai Blue Mountain variety, which perfectly holds the Blue Mountain’s well-balanced, malty flavor. It’s worth noting that even on Kauai, this type of coffee can sell out very fast – so definitely try it out as soon as you spot it!
4. Mundo Novo
Another coffee variety that produces a high-quality cup is the Mundo Novo. This type of coffee also originates from Brazil, and its tree is characterized by its very tall stature.
The Mundo Novo is the result of a cross between the Bourbon and Typica, which are varieties you can also find in Kauai. It’s highly popular with farmers as it’s highly resistant to disease and easy to grow at lower altitudes.
Depending on the blend, the Mundo Novo can produce almond-like flavors as well as caramel or toffee tones. It’s a dark roast that makes for an exceptional cup with a wonderfully smooth finish.
One of the most iconic coffee varieties is the Typica, which is native to the land of Arabica coffee, Ethiopia. It’s another coffee type that can produce a high-quality cup and thus can be more expensive than other types.
According to World Coffee Research, the Typica variant is one of the most culturally and genetically important types of Arabia coffee in the world. Much like the Acaia, it produces a large coffee bean and grows well at higher altitudes. Coffee connoisseurs will know this – Typica is actually the parent of Hawaii’s well-loved Kona coffee!
Typica coffee has a well-balanced profile with hints of raspberry and nut in its flavor. When roasted, it produces a distinctly luxurious aroma, which may explain why it’s sometimes called the “royal coffee”. However, despite being described as royal, it’s commonly found in most coffee shops, or in one of Kauai’s Farmers’ Markets.
Lastly, you’ll be able to find the Yellow Bourbon coffee variant in Kauai. It was first produced in the French island of Reunion, which was known as Ile Bourbon until 1789. Its comparable characteristics with the Typica has made it a measure of quality in the coffee industry for a long time.
Bourbon coffee has a tall, medium-yielding plant with green leaf tips. Like the Typica, the higher the altitude it’s grown in, the better quality of coffee it makes. Because of this variety’s agronomic traits, it’s considered a specialty product along with the Typica and Blue Mountain.
When roasted, Bourbon beans emit a sweet and floral aroma. This variety is also known for their deep, buttery chocolate flavors that some coffee enthusiasts report to taste like wine. However, when grown at a lower altitude, Bourbon can produce a completely different flavor close to milk chocolate.
Which Cup Will You Have?
There is indeed a great appreciation of coffee in Kauai. Even though coffee on the island can be expensive due to its distinguished quality, you can expect the locals to still demand an excellent cup every time. It’s a scene you definitely don’t want to miss when you’re on the island.
Wherever you stay on the island, you’ll most likely have a coffee roaster nearby. After scoping out the best beaches in Kauai, some exploration into the island’s coffee scene is definitely doable. Now that’s a full-on vacation!
We hope we’ve helped you develop a little appreciation for coffee with this article. We also hope you can use this article as a guide to spotting your favorite varieties when you visit a coffee farm! Book a trip to the huge Kauai Coffee estate, or drop by one of the island’s charming cafes – either way is surely going to offer a tasty, captivating experience.
6 Best Coffee Varieties in Kauai [Infographic]
Note: This post was originally published on Dec 7, 2020. It has since been updated on a regular basis for relevance and freshness.