In recent decades, the neighboring region to Kona began to make a name for itself. Coffee was planted in Ka’u over one hundred years ago but, like most of the coffee growing regions of Hawai‘i, was overshadowed by sugarcane production.
In 1996, when the district’s largest sugar plantation closed, displaced plantation workers looked to coffee as a replacement crop. Early production of Ka‘u coffee was mostly sold to and marketed as Kona coffee but eager, talented producers sought their own recognition and marketability. The quality of coffee coming from the district rivaled its neighbor and won many awards. This lead to the growing region’s own origin trade name and Ka‘u gaining a reputation for producing some of the best coffee in Hawaiʻi.
Ka‘u is located on the southernmost tip of the Island of Hawaii. While the landscape of the district is quite diverse from Mauna Loa lava fields, to eroded pastures, to the dry, high deserts of Volcano National Park, most coffee is grown in the valleys between where the trees enjoy a sunny climate with afternoon mist and cloud cover. Ka‘u coffee is home to less than 100 farms with a diverse range of coffee varieties and processing methods contributing to a multitude of fantastic flavor profiles.