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Coffee labeling standards bill gets final approval from Hawaiʻi Legislature

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Hawai’i lawmakers have approved a bill meant to preserve the authenticity of Hawaiʻi-grown coffee products, including Kauaʻi coffee.

Kona coffee beans. (File photo)

House Bill 2298, introduced by Big Island state Rep. Nicole Lowen, mandates that as of July 1, 2027, any coffee labeled or advertised with a Hawaiʻi geographic origin must consist of at least 51% coffee, by weight, from that region.

The current requirement is set at just 10%.

“This initiative is about protecting Kona’s world-renowned coffee and ensuring that local farmers receive the prices they deserve for their products, and that dollars stay in Hawaiʻi’s economy,” said Lowen, who represents North Kona, South Kohala and portions of Kailua-Kona. “The percentage of Kona coffee required for it to be labeled Kona should be 100%, but given that this is the first progress made on this in more than 30 years, it’s a huge win.”

The measure is aimed at protecting coffee products that originate in the state, combatting deceptive labeling and ensuring products that bear Hawaiʻi regional names contain at least a majority of product from that region.


“By gradually implementing an increase in minimum standards, this bill protects the integrity of all regional coffee brands in Hawai‘i, like Kona and Ka‘ū, and supports our local farmers,” said Big Island state Rep. Kirstin Kahaloa, who represents Hōnaunau, Nāpō‘opo‘o, Captain Cook, Kealakekua, Keauhou, Hōlualoa and portions of Kailua-Kona.

Act 222 was put in place in 2022, requesting the Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture conduct a study on the impact of coffee labeling laws on coffee farmers and determine the economically ideal proportion of Kona beans in products marketed as Kona coffee.

The state Agriculture Department on Jan. 18 submitted its final report on the economic study on changes in coffee labeling law, which highlights that increasing the minimum amount of Kona coffee from 10% to either 51% or 100% would be advantageous for local farmers, with a higher increase providing the most benefit.

Suzanne Shriner, owner of Lions Gate Kona coffee, looks at the cherries Nov. 1, 2023, on a coffee tree at her Hōnaunau farm on the Big Island. (File photo by Tiffany DeMasters/Big Island Now)

Additionally, the report anticipates that proposed labeling changes could result in a price increase for Kona coffee while seeing minimal impact on quantities grown or sold.


“For too long, we have allowed products that are not Kona coffee to use the Kona coffee name and reputation for profit at the expense of farmers,” said Big Island state Rep. ‘Jeanné Kapela, who represents Mountain View, Glenwood, Fern Forest, Volcano, Pāhala, Punalu‘u, Nā‘ālehu, Wai‘ōhinu, Hawaiian Ocean View Estates, Ho‘okena and portions of Kea‘au and Kurtistown.

Kapela added that HB2298 is a step forward for Hawaiʻi’s farmers, supporting their economic growth.

Other Big Island legislators also weighed in on the bill.

Hawai‘i Senate Majority Leader Dru Kanuha, who represents Kona, Ka‘ū and Volcano, echoed the comments from House members and added that HB2298 reflects the Legislature’s dedication to fostering a sustainable and transparent agricultural sector — one that honors tradition while promoting economic prosperity for generations to come.


“By increasing the required percentage of Hawai‘i regional coffee … we are raising standards, enhancing transparency in labeling and will ultimately advance the coffee industry over time,” said Big Island state Sen. Tim Richards, who represents North Hilo, Hāmākua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa and North Kona.

HB2298 is expected to become law with Hawai‘i Gov. Josh Green’s signature.


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