“Royal Kona Coffee is a community-oriented company with great foundations in Aloha.”
Back in January, Miss Kona Coffee 2022, Kyndra Nakamoto, reached out to Royal Kona (RK) Coffee for an interview to help tell the story about the hard work that goes behind producing bags of our quality Kona Coffee.
Kyndra is on a mission to educate and bring awareness to Kona Coffee, share what makes Kona Coffee so special, and its value as a part of Hawaii’s multi-generational history and culture.
Kyndra spoke with our Mill Manager, Roger Kaiwi, and asked him questions like how Royal Kona Coffee began, what his favorite part about Kona is, and what he finds most unique about Royal Kona Coffee.
Interested in learning more? Watch the interview below! (Or scroll to the bottom to read the transcript. )
Mahalo nui loa, Kyndra, for having us! We are so honored to be included in your series of interviews to help highlight and share the wonderful joys of Kona Coffee and its roots in Hawaii’s history and culture. Visit Royal Kona Coffee Visitor Center Monday – Friday, 9 AM to 4 PM. 83-5427 Mamalahoa Hwy. Captain Cook, HI 96704.
Interview Transcript with Kendra Nakamoto, Miss Kona Coffee 2022
Kendra Nakamoto: Aloha everyone, I’m Kendra Nakamoto, your Miss Kona Coffee 2022 and I’m here with Roger Kaiwi of Royal Kona Coffee. How are you doing today?
Roger Kaiwi: I’m well, thank you for asking.
KN: So, today I just want to talk with you about, you know, a lot of the history of Royal Kona Coffee so can you tell me who started this company and when they started it?
RK: So, Royal Kona was actually started by Superior Coffee back in, I would say in the early 50s. And we (Hawaii Coffee Company) came about it in a round-about way. We originally purchased Lion Coffee from Jim Delano, which started in Chicago. He moved his operations to Honolulu probably in the early 80s. We purchased Lion Coffee at that particular time and then we acquired the Royal Kona brand from Superior.
KN: What would you say is your favorite part about this location?
RK: This location, of course to me, is significant because my family is from the area so it’s easy. You know, most of our farmers are around our neighbors and/or just old family friends. The South of Kona is such a fabulous area for folks. Blood or no blood, these are all family members.
Probably one of the funnest things I do when I get mail every day, I get to wave at people that put their families through college. I’ve helped them build homes; I help them do better. And that’s a pretty good feeling.
This (Royal Kona Coffee Center) was supposed to be the Polynesian Cultural Center of the Big Island. There was a luau ground set up. There was an imu pit set up…they had a stage, long before it was Royal Kona Center it just was too far South. You know, at the time, and even still today, the biggest problem we have in the Kona industry is when people leave the airport they go left! They go North. That’s where the big resorts are. Not enough people go right so we’re still kind of the “Best Kept Secret.” This location has been an icon for years and it’s always been a stop-off for people heading to the city of refuge, volcanoes and so forth. But they’re missing a big chunk because that’s not in the Kona Belt.
KN: There’s always one question I ask everybody I stop by but what do you find the most unique about Royal Kona?
RK: You know, what is unique about us is we put into this product our everything. It’s our consistency, we’re always consistent with quality. We’re cutting edge on roasting; we’re cutting edge on packaging. So, when you buy a pound of our coffee, you’re not picking up a stale bag on the shelf. You’re getting the best coffee.
KN: Alright, thank you Roger for joining me again on this interview today. So, Aloha everyone and thank you for watching!