Hawaiian Isles Kona Coffee Co out of business?

dascrow

Administrator
Staff member
Any fans of Hawaiian Isles Kona Coffee? It appears they have recently gone out of business. That's been my favorite coffee for the past few years. My wife and I were hooked on the Kona Sunrise coffee. Could anyone suggest a coffee that is similar?
 

smohorcic305

New member
Aug 10, 2023
1
0
miami, florida
Visit site
Any fans of Hawaiian Isles Kona Coffee? It appears they have recently gone out of business. That's been my favorite coffee for the past few years. My wife and I were hooked on the Kona Sunrise coffee. Could anyone suggest a coffee that is similar?
hi--my parents would always bring me back a pack or two of Hawaiian Isles coffee when they visited Oahu and got me hooked. Used to buy directly online or at World Market -- 'love their coffee. Or loved. They filed for bankruptcy earlier this year :-( When I feel the need for Kona I buy a very expensive bag of Kona (beans) at Fresh Market and have it as a treat on Sundays. Otherwise, still struggling to find a substitute.
 
A number of companys have either stopped selling 'Kona Coffee' or changed their packaging after the multi-million dollar lawsuit. Kona Coffee farmers have been complaining for decades that there is dramatically more 'Kona' being sold then we produce (Yes, I am a Kona Farmer myself).

Hawaiian Isles among others were named in the suit. Some companys KNEW they were cheating the public and some just bought from wholesalers who purposly did not label the product. The list of companys was very large and included Costco, Bed Bath and Beyond, Hawaiian Isles, Walmart, Safeway, Kroger and so on. Almost all companys have settled after seeing the technical results and some companys have been hit pretty hard and have filed bankruptcy because of this and other pressures like COVID.

It is interesting how the fraud was caught. Essentually almost a DNA test. Coffee was collected from many Kona Farms and analyzed for minerals. Then coffee was purchased from many companys and analzed. The percentage or absence of those minerals specific to Kona was noted.

IF you wish to see the scatter diagrams showing that there was often no Kona in the bags, download the PDF called "Third Amended Complaint'. It is very eye opening! The document describes how the testing was done and the results. It also shows images of the bags.

Of course the farmers who actually grow the coffee are still in business; it was just a number of middlemen and some end sellers who relied upon false information that caused the lawsuit. Many traded on the Kona name when there was little to no Kona in the bag. They may have even said KONA BLEND but never told you there was no Kona in the bag or perhaps 1 bean. One coffee on the shelf in Hawaii said "Roasted in the Kona Style' whsatever the hell THAT means!

As you may know, actual Kona coffee is very expensive because of where it is grown and that it is all hand-picked. Unlike world locations with cheap labor, Hawaii labor is quite expensive.

While some of the coffees the consumers purchased may have been fine tasting, the ones shown in the lawsuit were not Kona Coffee. A common thing done to lower grade coffees is to add flavors. Kona coffee is smooth. If the coffee you are drinking is bitter, it isn't Kona.

Anyway, I hope this answers the question What Happened To Hawaiian Isles Coffee and why some bags of Kona Blend may have recently been changed.
 
Last edited:

Hydroid

New member
Nov 9, 2020
29
1
Visit site
We too enjoyed the Sunrise coffee, so we are now buying Pablo's Pride Guatemala coffee from Don Pablo. It is very close in taste to the Sunrise. Hope this helps.
 

IslaMujeres

Member
Jun 20, 2023
30
0
New York
Visit site
that's a pity. So many business didn't survive the pandemic and now it takes lots of efforts to build everything again from zero. I know what i am talking about from my own experience. This time we decided to do our business completely online with the help of https://clerk.chat/integrations/hubspot/ and lots of thinking. I think it will work soon or later
 
Last edited:

MarcBeck

Member
Top Poster Of Month
Sep 17, 2023
42
2
Hawaii
Visit site
I think they're back in business; https://hawaiian-isles.com/

A number of coffee producers here (Hawaii) were blending with beans from other places (not Hawaii) and they passed a law that "Hawaiian" coffee has to be 100% Hawaii beans. Anyway, like I said....I think after their bankruptcy I believe they're back in business.
 

Hydroid

New member
Nov 9, 2020
29
1
Visit site
I think they're back in business; https://hawaiian-isles.com/

A number of coffee producers here (Hawaii) were blending with beans from other places (not Hawaii) and they passed a law that "Hawaiian" coffee has to be 100% Hawaii beans. Anyway, like I said....I think after their bankruptcy I believe they're back in business.
That's good news, I'll have to order some. Thanks for the update.
 
The total of the class action suit was in the neighborhood of $41 million dollars. There is a push now to either update the minimum Kona in a blend or eliminate Kona blends at least in the state of Hawaii.
I think they're back in business; https://hawaiian-isles.com/

A number of coffee producers here (Hawaii) were blending with beans from other places (not Hawaii) and they passed a law that "Hawaiian" coffee has to be 100% Hawaii beans. Anyway, like I said....I think after their bankruptcy I believe they're back in business.
Notice that they do not list "KONA" on any of the labels... They do have a HAWAIIAN blend but I noticed some oddities on the site.

So if you use a district (Kauai, Maui, Oahu, Kona, Kau, etc) the coffee has to come from that district and be 100%. It also have to meet certain bean size and defect levels. If it does not, the coffee may be called HAWAIIAN as long as it meets that lower criteria.

Hawaiian Isles is selling the more generic hawaiian coffe which could come from any of the islands since the location is not listed. That is akin to buying a sparkling beverage from France instead of Champaign or buying Georgia onions rather than Vadelias. Nothing wrong with that if that is what you want to buy.

Now the rest of the coffees don't say they contain any coffee from Hawaii. Here is part of their description with my emphasis in bold:

Our Macadamia Nut Cream blend is a celebration of the lush landscapes of Hawaii. The 8oz package is a treasure trove of indulgence, promising a rich and creamy coffee experience that captures the essence of the islands.
We coffee farmers are not against blends that honestly tell the consumer what they are buying. The above (I think) lets the buyer think it is a Hawaiian coffee of some sort, but I don't think it is. The three coffees that are 10% blends, as I say, state that some of the is coffee is from Hawaii.

Our 10% Hawaiian Original blend is a unique combination of premium Hawaiian coffee beans, sourced from the lush landscapes of Hawaii and blended with Arabica beans specially sourced for their integrity.

So my first comment is of the wording PREMIUM. That appears to be sales puffery. Remember the grading, a region menioned like Kona is a high level grading. The naming of HAWAIIAN coffee is a catchall for coffee that did not meet the strict grading of the regionals. I don't know that I would call that lower class coffee Premium since it isn't. Then they say that only 10% of the coffee comes from Hawaii and don't say where the other 90% comes from. If it was Hawaii they would be proud to say their coffee all came from Hawaii. Of course that would make it a 100% Hawaiian coffee rather than 10%.

So if you like the coffee, go for it. Just know what you are getting at the price offered.
 
Top