Coffee was first established in the islands in 1825 when Chief Boki, accompanied King Kamehameha on a royal visit to London. On the return journey, the royal entourage stopped in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where they acquired coffee seedlings. Coffee was first planted in the Manoa Valley on Oahu and eventually spread over the islands including to the Big Island region of Kona, the most famous coffee growing region in Hawaii.
The coffee industry in Hawaii slowly built momentum in the following decades. In 1873, the Kona name first gained some recognition when coffee trader Henry Nicholas Greenwell won an award for excellence at the world’s fair in Vienna. The first coffee mill in Hawaii was built in 1880.
The production of coffee in Hawaii peaked in 1957 at over 18 million pounds as a result of rising coffee prices caused by a frost in South America. Production later contracted due to competition for labor with the tourism industry, but today more farms in Hawaii grow coffee than any other crop.
Hawaiian coffee accounts for a little more than .1% of global coffee production. Most coffee is grown at elevations between 200 and 600 meters above sea level. However, the volcanic soil, frequent rains and slightly cooler temperatures in Hawaii foster the development of a nuanced flavor profile. The flavor profile is described as being sweet with mild acidity, rich flavor and a medium body.