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I guess it’s time for a true confession. I’m a coffee snob. And when I travel, I have a passion for supporting local roasters and coffee houses. Let’s just say I’ve BEAN Around the World and I’m feeling like now is the time to start sharing the love…..and caffeine, one city at a time.
You may recall, I started this series with San Diego. Now it’s time for Hawaii!
So let’s open the TWG cafe society doors and talk coffee. Every so often, I’ll even throw in a few of the best places to enjoy chai!
You’d think talking about coffee in Hawaii is an open and shut case of best coffee ever. After all, it’s the only state in the U.S. where coffee is grown, and most coffee drinkers have heard of Kona coffee.
But here’s the thing. I’m not at all a Kona blend fan! It’s too weak, and I prefer a stronger more robust blend. I do know that Kona coffee has different grades and different degrees of flavor. I’ve tasted enough of it to know that it’s just not for me.
My history as a tourist in Hawaii goes way back and I even lived there full-time for many years, so I’m no newcomer to the coffee scene.
Every week, I get an email or message from someone visiting Hawaii and it goes like this:
Tom: Oh great Shelli… please reveal to me where to find the best coffee in Kona ☕️
Shelli: I don’t care for Kona blend coffee. Too weak for me. My favorite in Hawaii is the Honolulu Coffee Company but their stores on the Big Island are nowhere near Kona. Hard to find good coffee on the Big Island cause it’s all Kona. Wish I could be more caffeinated help. Let me know if you find a place!
Tom: Thanks anyhow! I tried the Kona coffee, I don’t like it either, but you know I am spoiled after living in Little Italy in Montreal… very spoiled! But I will make it my mission to find a good spot!
Did he find a spot? Nope :(
Sure, you might look for and find plenty of cafes, but ask them what coffee they use and I’m betting it’s some Kona blend. I guess they think it’s what the tourists expect in Hawaii.
So if Kona blend isn’t your cup of java, where DO you find good coffee in Hawaii? I have a great suggestion!
Back in 2003, I discovered that two brothers had started roasting beans, creating their own blends, and had opened up a few coffee shops around Honolulu.
And although they did the traditional Kona blend, they also had a blend that was great. It was called Lava Roast. A few years ago, a guy from Kansas City, who apparently had a coffee empire of his own back there, came in and bought one of the brothers out and then really started to grow the company.
It’s called Honolulu Coffee and they now have a presence in Hawaii and Japan, as well.
Let me share with you my favorite locations, (I have two) and what I drink!
If you’re visiting Maui, their location in Wailea is a great one. The inside is rather small, but they have plenty of tables outside and a lovely fountain to sit by. And if you take your coffee to go, walk down towards the Marriott and out to the ocean, and enjoy your coffee while watching the sea turtles!
If you’re visiting Oahu, it’s likely you’ll pay a visit to the Ala Moana Mall. They have two locations there, one is a kiosk and the other is a cafe. Both are fun for people watching!
What do I order?
Their Lava Roast blend is now called Lokahi, so make sure when you get your latte, cappuccino, or espresso, that it’s made with this blend, or at the very least an espresso blend and not a Kona blend. It’s strong and delicious and when the latte is made well, it’s still one of my favorite coffee beverages anywhere!
So there you have it. A bit of Hawaiian coffee scene history, a local place for great coffee, and another confession…….I’m not a Kona coffee fan!
Are you a Kona coffee fan? Where have you had it and loved it so I can now recommend it to other Kona fans?
Am I missing any places you’ve found while visiting Hawaii that serve up great espresso?
I’ll be writing about the coffee scene in other cities as well. So far I have a list of 19 cities to cover! If there are any cities that you’d like to see me write about, please let me know.
Thanks for joining me in this BEAN Around the World journey……..stay caffeinated!
P.S. Can guess where I’m heading next? Maybe you can, eh!
If you liked this post, please check out all the other cities I reviewed in Shelli’s World Coffee Tour.