For about 62% of the US population, coffee is the desired beverage to kick start the day. Whether you purchase a cup on the way to work or brew your own at home, you are relying on the coffee to get you through the day, or at least until your 3 pm pick-me-up. While some consumers may not notice the origin of their coffee, others are more inclined to purchase grounds or pods that are authentic to certain regions. Kona coffee, for example, is native to Hawaii and is known for its smooth texture and sweet and nutty taste. Or so we thought.
Hawaiian coffee bean growers are appalled with the false advertising produced by some retailers and suppliers of “Kona” coffee, and maintain that the impression does not match the real deal. The first indication to growers that the fake Hawaiian coffee existed was the cost per pound, which was significantly reduced from actual costs of production on farms in Hawaii. According to the farmers’ arguments, the cheaper version is damaging pricing for the genuine coffee and creating a perception that Kona coffee may not live up to its reputation. In reality, the authentic Kona coffee is arguably superior to what some suppliers and retailers claim to be Kona coffee.
In response, about 700 Hawaiian farmers filed a class action lawsuit against 22 retailers and suppliers and are expecting to receive their first settlement payments, which will equate to about $14,000 per farmer. In addition to monetary compensation, the growers will also receive satisfaction that the retailers and suppliers are now required to include in their packaging which portion of their coffee blend originates from the Kona belt. While Hawaiian law currently dictates that at least 10% of “Kona” coffee must derive from the Kona blend, farmers are urging the Hawaiian government to increase that percentage to a 51% minimum. It is the hope of the farmers that consumers will be able to eventually enjoy a higher concentration of the rich taste only found in Kona coffee.