Hawaii’s coffee culture has been brewing since the 1800s when the Kona region on Hawaii Island was discovered to have ideal climatic conditions for growing coffee plants. With ac-cess to high-quality Kona coffee beans, American-style drip coffee took off across the Is-lands and remains a favourite hot drink to this day.
But Hawaii serves more than a good cup of black coffee. Local cafés have embraced an arti-san approach to caffeine, perfecting the creamier espresso-based beverages and elevating Hawaii’s coffee scene to the next level. Savour the taste of Oahu’s best coffee experiences by paying these coffee shops a visit.
Lion Cafe & General Store
Voted Hawaii’s Best Coffee in 2019, Lion Coffee is Hawaii’s favourite cup of aloha. They of-fer exquisite roasts from across the Islands and gourmet Hawaii flavours including Vanilla Macadamia, Toasted Coconut, Kakaako Caramel and Tropical Amaretto. There’s even an Exclusive Hawaiian Airlines Blend, freshly brewed at high altitudes for inflight passengers. For the inside scoop on how Lion Coffee is made, drop into Lion Cafe & General Store in Kahili. Visitors can take a free roastery tour, taste Lion Nitro Brew straight from the tap and shop Lion merchandise.
Learn more: www.lioncoffee.com/lion-cafe
Mason Rose, one of the owners of Arvo, hails from Down Under so it’s not surprising to see nods to Australian culture in this trendy cafe. The name Arvo is Australian slang for the af-ternoon, and the baristas are coffee masters. They pour Kiwi favourites like the Flat White and Long Black and embrace the latest in coffee trends serving up Lavender and Charcoal Lattes. Their répertoire of specialty toasts from Vegemite Toast, Loaded Avocado Toast and Smoked Salmon Toast, presented with a signature edible flower, make this coffee shop one the best brunch offerings on the Island.
Learn more: www.arvocafe.com
Hawaiian Aroma Caffe
For exceptional Italian-style coffee visit Hawaiian Aroma Caffe, a coffee chain with four Waikiki outlets. Choose from a variety of hot and cold brews, including a delectable Nutella Latte (hazelnut chocolate mocha) and Carmello Macchiato (iced). Each cafe doubles as a full-service bar with cocktails, mimosas and drinks served in a pineapple. The food menu is a mouthwatering selection of panini, waffles and acai bowls; the best ones come with a dol-lop of peanut butter. With aloha-filled interior design, these coffee shops are some of the most Instagram-worthy in all of Hawaii.
Learn more: www.hawaiianaromacaffe.com
Kai Coffee is a Hawaii family business committed to promoting locally grown coffee and training exceptional baristas. All three Honolulu locations serve artisan roasted Hawaiian coffee, with beans sourced predominantly from the hills of Kona on the Island of Hawaii, an area rich in volcanic soil that slopes towards the kai (sea). These conditions produce a nat-urally sweet coffee with a fruit-like flavour. They’re one of the few coffee shops on Oahu stocking macadamia nut milk. Seek out their signature Kai Latte, a delicious macadamia nut flavoured latte with whipped cream.
Learn more: www.kaicoffeehawaii.com
Knots Coffee Roasters
Originating from Japan, Knots Coffee Roasters is a retro-chic coffee station and wine bar hidden in the lobby of the Queen Kapiolani Hotel. Its open-air terrace provides a relaxed atmosphere for sipping on Hawaii farm-sourced coffees. They offer everything from the standard Cappuccino to On Tap Nitro Cold Brew and 100% Kona Espresso. They are famous for bringing coffee jelly to Waikiki, a java dessert popular in Asian countries. Order the Soft Serve Tokyo Style to sample it, a vanilla soft-serve and coffee jelly creation topped with es-presso and a mini-cookie.
Learn more: www.knotscoffee.com
Kona Coffee Purveyors
Pair caffeinated beverages with delectable baked goods at Kona Coffee Purveyors, a cof-fee + wine bar in partnership with b. pâtisserie. Positioned at the Kuhio Avenue entrance to Waikiki’s International Market Place, this coffee shop combines artisan roasted Kona cof-fee with award-winning baristas and outstanding pastry chefs, resulting in a gourmet Ha-waii coffee experience. Their Cafe Mocha is second to none, hand-crafted with Valrhona, a premium brand of French chocolate. Finish on a high note with a buttery Kouign Amann French pastry; they’re heavenly.
Learn more: www.konacoffeepurveyors.com
The Local Joe mission is to make the finest coffee out of the best beans. Every foamy cup in this cute shop is a potential work of art thanks to their instore coffee printer. Send them an image electronically on arrival and wait for the magic to happen. Standout beverages in-clude the Honeymoon Latte (espresso, Big Island honey and organic milk) and Marc’s Mal-abar Mocha (espresso, creme de cacao, caramel sauce, heavy creme and dark chocolate). This is the go-to for a caffeine hit in Downtown Honolulu and makes for a smooth \ coffee stop between Waikiki and the airport.
Learn more: www.localjoehi.com
Olive & Oliver
Combine two pastimes, drinking coffee and shopping, at Olive & Oliver boutique and es-presso bar inside The Surfjack Hotel in Waikiki. They’re famous for beautiful coffee cup de-signs created in collaboration with local and international artists and have a reputation for damn good coffee. Grab a Latte, their top-selling beverage, and enjoy it while browsing the on-site shop curated by husband-and-wife duo Ali McMahon and Parker Moosman. It’s a mix of stylish clothing, accessories, and home goods reflective of Hawaii’s coastal lifestyle, including one-of-a-kind private labels.
The Sunrise Shack
Rise and shine at either of the two health-conscious Sunrise Shacks, opposite Sunset Beach on Oahu’s North Shore or steps from Waikiki Beach at Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort. Brothers Alex, Travis and Koa Smith, along with Koa Rothman, turned their passion for surfing and healthy living into coffee shops focused on organic food and bulletproof coffee. For a long-lasting energy buzz, order the Classic Bullet, it blends Laird’s Peruvian coffee with coconut oil, MCT oil, grass-fed butter and vanilla. The smoothie bowls here are a hit, especially the Blue Dream Bowl made with blue majik spirulina.
Learn more: www.sunriseshackhawaii.com
Written by Ashlee Galea, an Aussie living in Hawaii who enjoys sharing Hawaii insider knowledge and travel advice on her blog The Hawaii Admirer (thehawaiiadmirer.com).