What Makes Coffee From Hawaii So Expensive?

It seems that everyone loves Kona coffee from Hawaii but no one enjoys the high price of the commodity. In fact, many caffeine drinkers choose to leave Hawaiian coffee on the shelves instead of paying upwards of $20 for seven ounces of the product. “I love Kona,” consumers say, “but what makes it so special? Why does it have to be so expensive?” Here’s why.

Kona is a rarity

The Kona coffee belt is only one mile around and thirty miles long. Although the area may seem like a large space, Hawaiian coffee becomes a precious gem when compared with other java beans in countries like Columbia and Kenya where an abundance of ingredients grow year round. The white flowers, called “Kona Snow,” cover the Kona coffee tree from February to March. There is a possibility of the commodity being destroyed if the weather is bad during this time frame.

Labor is hard

Machines cannot be used on the Kona coffee belt because of the area’s steepness. As a result, human labor must be utilized to the full extent. Workers spend hours picking a Kona tree that only makes two pounds of coffee. Unlike other countries that may pay $0.25 per hour for labor, Hawaii is a state in America where federal minimum wage compensation is required of all employers. Imagine paying eight employees $7.25 per hour just for picking trees!; never mind the cost of packaging, marketing, and transporting across the ocean.

Real estate is expensive

Many people do not even think about buying real estate in Hawaii because of the housing market. Inflated prices are the norm on the beautiful island, and even land reserved for farming is no cheap feat. Paying hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions, for property means that you have to charge more for your product in order to make ends meet. Such is the reason why Kona coffee is so high.

There is always the possibility of a natural disaster

Hawaii is volcano country, which means that crops and property can be destroyed at any time. To make matters worse, Kona coffee grows on the side of the biggest active volcano in the world. Workers can be in the middle of picking beans off the trees when lava begins to gush out of the mountain. While the employees may be spared from disaster, saving the Kona trees would be out of the question. Imagine living with the reality of your business being snatched away at any moment. Coffee vending is hard in Hawaii.

Many think that farmers are living high on the hog all while selling their Kona coffee productions at outrageous prices. The truth is that business owners are barely living off the income that Kona coffee provides. Some farmers may even be upside down because of the high cost of transporting items across the ocean. Although Hawaiian coffee can cost as much as $50 per pound, the high price tag comes with hand-picked labor, organic growing, and packaging care. Do you still think that Kona is too expensive?

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