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Why is Kona Coffee so Expensive?!

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

Kona coffee is known to be some of the world's most delicious, high quality, but also some of the most expensive. Why is that?

Because it is created using real hands, using manual labor, and because it is grown using U.S. wages.!

Coffee is certainly a labor of love, and no matter what it is labor-intensive. Much of the world coffee is picked and harvested by machine. This speeds up the process immensely, but it also dilute the quality. Machines harvest the coffee all at once, which means they will include the underripe beans, the overripe beans, and the rotten ones as well. Most of the world's coffee farms also have a laser sorter to compensate for this, but today's technology is not quite there to match being manually sorted by a human.

Your average skilled human coffee picker can pick 75 - 200 Lbs of "cherry," the raw coffee fruit, in a day's work. This averages to 12-25 lbs picked per Hour. But the cherry-to-final roasted bean ratio is very large, about 10:1. Sometimes 8:1. That means in an entire day's work, if we have picked 100 Lbs in the field, we've really only picked 10 lbs of coffee!

After the harvest, the processing takes an average of 6 to 8 weeks to pulp in the wet mill, ferment, dry properly to a perfect moisture content percentage, mill and size-sort in the dry mill, to finally have a fresh green bean ready to roast. So an average coffee journey from seed to cup takes about two months, and quite a lot of labor.

Now that we understand the harvest process a little better, since all Kona coffee is hand-picked, it is all powered by manual labor. The average coffee farmer around the globe pays a coffee picker gets paid $1 per 100 pounds picked. In the U.S., in Kona, the going rate is $1-$2 per 1 pound picked.

Add in the cost of organically farming the land which we do at Rooster Farms, which means manual weed control rather than simply spraying weed killer, and the cost simply to produce a cup of coffee is unfortunately quite high.

At Rooster Farms, if you have ever visited us on a tour farm tour, you will know we are your average Kona coffee farm size, just over 6 acres. At just 6 acres of coffee we alone cannot produce nearly enough coffee for the global demand. We work closely co-opted with a partner who manages many Kona coffee farm plots here on Big Island, to ensure continuous and consistent farmed quality, nutrient quality and coffee bean quality.

By buying Rooster Farms coffee, you're helping support many local agricultural families, a dying breed in the U.S. especially, and the local economy at large since big island number one focus is agriculture. Thank you for your support!


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