Take a Kona Coffee Driving Tour and Taste Kona Coffee All Day Long!

By Hawaii.com Team
Kona Coffee

Photo courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson.

Take 600 specialty coffee farms, a spattering of mills, retail outlets and museums, then cluster them in 20 miles of scenic country roads, and you’ve got the perfect excuse for a self-drive coffee tasting tour. Akin to Northern California’s popular wine tasting tours, here the brew of the day is Kona coffee. Grown on the mountain slopes above Kailua-Kona, it is the only place in the world where certified Kona coffee is grown.

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Coffee Touring in Holualoa

Most people begin the tour from Kailua town and travel south to Honaunau. Take Palani Road (Hwy. 190) out of Kailua-Kona to Mamalahoa Highway (Hwy. 180). Turn south onto Mamalahoa towards Holualoa. Before you reach the tiny mountain village of Holualoa, you’ll find the Ueshima Coffee Company’s Kona Coffee Estate. The pretty roadside kiosk overlooks its coffee trees and offers a stunning view of the ocean. Continuing south into Holualoa, you’ll see the Ferrari Coffee Visitor Center. You can’t miss the place. It’s across the street from the 1920s-era, hot pink Kona Hotel. Less than a mile down the road, you’ll come to Kona Blue Sky Coffee Company, a large 500-acre estate that offers tours without reservations.

Making Your Way Across Kona Coffee Country

UCC Ueshima Coffee Company, kona coffee

And even though it was a few more days before I got to try them, they were really good. Photo: Joey Rozier.

Farther south on Hwy. 180, turn into Holualoa Coffee Company. Driving up the narrow road to the farm, you’ll be hit with the delicious aroma of roasting coffee, a scent you’ll forever associate with Kona. Continue south on Mamalahoa Highway (Hwy. 11) through the quaint towns of Honalo and Kainaliu to the Kona Mountain Coffee Shop in Kealakekua where you can sit and enjoy coffee, pastries and sandwiches. At the bottom of Napoʻopoʻo Road is UCC’s Espresso Bar and Roastery where you can roast your own private label coffee.

Historic Greenwell Farms

Greenwell Farms, kona coffee

Photo: horspwr1001.

The next stop is historic Greenwell Farms, situated on 35 acres of prime land at an elevation of 1,500 feet. This estate is operated by the descendants of Henry Nicholas Greenwell, an early pioneer in Kona coffee exporting. The Greenwell Store Museum in Kealakekua contains a revolving display that makes it easy to grasp the exacting, labor-intensive process from Kona bean to cup.

Kona Coffee Living History Farm

Uchida Farm House, Kona Coffee Living History Farm, kona coffee

Photo: Bjorn.

The Kona Coffee Living History Farm, on Mamalahoa Highway in Captain Cook, across from the 110-mile marker, offers a chance to experience the unique lifestyle of island coffee farms. The 1913 homestead has been preserved by the Kona Historical Society. It is listed on both State and National Registers for Historic Places.  Explore the living history farm and interact with interpreters dressed in period costumes carrying out their work and interacting with visitors as if they were living back in the 1920’s.  Tour the farm’s historic farmhouse, the processing mill, drying roofs, and a traditional Japanese bathhouse.

The Jewel of Java – Royal Kona Coffee Center

royal kona coffee center

Photo: Prayitno.

A five minute drive south along Mamalahoa Highway will bring you to the “Jewel of Java” – the Royal Kona Coffee Center. Open 365 days a year, the Royal Kona Coffee Center offers a self-guided tour of the entire coffee production process. Take the self-guided tour, explore the lava tube, ascend the tree house, or simply sit on the veranda sipping freshly brewed Royal Kona Coffee and take in the views of the bay from the cool altitudes of coffee country.

Don’t forget – special rental car discounts are available for Hawaii.com members. Click here for more information.

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