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Hawaiian coffee is about to taste a lot better

Hawaiian coffee is great. And it may get even better

Whole coffee beans
Igor Haritanovich / Pexels

Hawaiian coffee is among the best on the planet. Thanks to some recent legislation, the world-famous beans will get even better. A bill just passed that will regulate local coffee labels and offer some added clarity for consumers looking to enjoy genuine Hawaiian caffeine.

The legislation (otherwise known as HB2298) will create some new marketing and packaging rules set to take effect in 2027. Many argue that this move is long overdue, as the current rules allow producers to use the Hawaiian name even when just ten percent of the beans in the bag are grown in Hawaii. The new rules would require producers to use at least 51% of Hawaiian coffee in their blends deemed Hawaiian coffee.

Kona coffee has long been ridiculed for using an attention-grabbing name while only including a fraction of actual Big Island beans. For years, producers have met the legal requirements, adding just one Kona-grown bean for every other nine beans in the batch, many bulk-produced and imported from elsewhere.

The law will secure that a majority of what’s in a Hawaiian coffee is exactly that. And while it’s likely to make Hawaiian coffee more expensive, it will also help consumers and likely even support the Hawaiian coffee industry as there will be more demand of island-grown beans. Many see the law as a way of safeguarding both coffee drinkers and the local industry.

Added context

waterfall in Hawaii park
Pixabay / Pixabay

Knowing what you’re drinking is vital, and it’s a disservice to the geographic area mentioned on the label if that’s not really what’s in the package. The new law will pave the way for smarter purchases and a better sense of what’s being enjoyed. The legislation applies to all types of coffee, including instant, ready-to-drink, and roasted options.

Purists within the coffee realm are hoping for even stricter laws that would call for three-quarters or even 100% of the blend to be made up of Hawaiian coffee (more along the lines of wine labeling laws). For now, the latest legislation is still a significant triumph for the sector and many are applauding the move. Smaller producers who rely on local farms and the marketing cache of geographic origin will see less competition from larger producers with cheaper blends that include relatively small amounts of Hawaiian coffee.

There’s nothing new about consumer protection laws like this. The wine world has made them famous, utilizing appellations like Sta. Rita Hills or The Rocks District to not only promote the wine-growing areas, but let buyers know exactly what’s behind the label. Sure, you may have to shell out a bit more per pound, but coffee drinkers are about to get more of the real thing.

We’ve got plenty more on the Hawaiian front. Check out our features on the best hotels in Honolulu and the incredible and rising Hawaiian rum scene. Cheers!

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Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
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