Supporting the idea that consumers are willing to vote for better quality coffee with their pocketbooks, the Hawaii County Council voted 8-1 in favor of requiring coffee labelled as a “Kona blend” to contain a minimum of 75% Kona coffee instead of the current 10% requirement: Kona purists win Big Island vote – Pacific Business News (Honolulu):.

Because Kona coffee is sold at a premium relative to most of the world’s coffee bean stocks, some roasters and distributors were concerned that the resulting price increase would adversely affect sales. (Kona blends seem most targeted to the tourist set.) While Kona blends might now be priced out of some consumer markets, other growers believe the value of the Kona designation is currently diluted by today’s cheaper blends.

UPDATE: December 26, 2006
In a not entirely unrelated article today, the Honolulu Star Bulletin reported on the experiences of new coffee pickers at Kona plantations: | News | /2006/12/26/.

UPDATE: January 10, 2007
The Kona Coffee Farmers Association came out with a statement in support of the recently passed measure, calling the objections of some coffee processors “scare tactics”: Hawaii Reporter: Hawaii Reporter – Battle Continues to Ensure Kona Coffee is Authentic and Properly Labeled So Consumers Know What They Are Buying.