Hawaiian Isles “Kona” Coffee Non-Kona Origins Class Action

The Kona district, on the Big Island of Hawaii, is famous for its Kona coffee. Hawaiian Isles Kona Coffee Company, Ltd. sells bags of what it labels as Kona coffee, but the complaint for this class action alleges that the coffee is not made from beans from Kona: “In reality, these coffee products are mostly or exclusively comprised of commodity beans and/or beans from less-desirable regions.”

The class for this action is all persons in the US who bought the Hawaiian Isles “Kona” products.

The Hawaiian Isles coffee products at issue include those named “Kona Classic,” “Kona Sunrise,” “Kona Hazelnut,” and Kona Vanilla Macadamia Nut.” Package images and slogans used to market the coffee, such as “Taste the Kona difference,” reinforce the impression that the coffee is real Kona.

According to the complaint, Kona coffee is known for “its distinctive flavor and aroma” and “is one of the most famous and revered specialty coffees in the world.” Its distinctive characteristics come from “[t]he volcanic soil, the elevation, and the humidity of this region…”

The Kona district has only 3,800 acres of land under cultivation for Kona coffee, limiting the amount of Kona coffee available to consumers and making it all the more valuable. Typical Kona coffee farmers cultivate no more than five acres, a small operation, and they produce, in all, approximately 2.7 million pounds of green Kona coffee each year. This is only a small amount of the yearly total of 20 billion pounds of green coffee produced throughout the world.

The complaint says, “In other words, authentic Kona represents approximately 0.01% of worldwide coffee production. It is truly a premium product.”

Apparently, Kona coffee is desirable enough and labeling fraud tempting enough that Hawaii’s state laws include a False Labeling of Hawaiian-Grown Coffee Law. The complaint alleges that, while only 2.7 million pounds are grown each year, it seems that some 20 million pounds of coffee are sold until the “Kona” label in the same period.

As to the Hawaiian Isles product, the complaint claims, “Some packages contained trace amounts of Kona coffee, while other packages contained no Kona coffee at all.”

How does the complaint know this? According to the complaint, “As a result of the local soil and rainfall, certain elements are present in high concentrations in Kona coffee beans.” Also, “certain elements are not present in high concentrations in Kona coffee beans.”

In lab tests, scientists “examine the ratio of the concentrations of pairs of elements.” This is because the amount of certain elements can change depending on the length of roasting, but the ratios of elements does not. The complaint reproduces scatter-plot tables of element ratios that shows that the Hawaiian Isles coffee is outside the range of authentic Kona. The complaint alleges that the coffee is therefore unlikely to be real Kona.

The complaint claims fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and violations of Hawaii state laws, among other things.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Consumer

Most Recent Case Event

Hawaiian Isles “Kona” Coffee Non-Kona Origins Complaint

April 14, 2020

The Kona district, on the Big Island of Hawaii, is famous for its Kona coffee. Hawaiian Isles Kona Coffee Company, Ltd. sells bags of what it labels as Kona coffee, but the complaint for this class action alleges that the coffee is not made from beans from Kona: “In reality, these coffee products are mostly or exclusively comprised of commodity beans and/or beans from less-desirable regions.”

Hawaiian Isles “Kona” Coffee Non-Kona Origins Complaint

Case Event History

Hawaiian Isles “Kona” Coffee Non-Kona Origins Complaint

April 14, 2020

The Kona district, on the Big Island of Hawaii, is famous for its Kona coffee. Hawaiian Isles Kona Coffee Company, Ltd. sells bags of what it labels as Kona coffee, but the complaint for this class action alleges that the coffee is not made from beans from Kona: “In reality, these coffee products are mostly or exclusively comprised of commodity beans and/or beans from less-desirable regions.”

Hawaiian Isles “Kona” Coffee Non-Kona Origins Complaint
Tags: Deceptive Advertising, Deceptive Labels, Place of origin