I drink a lot of coffee, I enjoy some form of coffee seven days week, sometimes multiple times a day. I also love exploring local coffee shops, especially when I travel. It gives me a great sense of a city, since everyone has their own ways of roasting, and brewing this exotic fruit. Yes, coffee is a fruit, the beans or seeds come from a cherry trust me, I know.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited four out of the six main Hawaiian Islands, and on those islands, I have explored quite a bit of coffee shops. This post will cover my favorite spots across O’ahu, Hawai’i Island, Kaua’i, and of course, my second home, Maui.
Located in the lobby of The Laylow, Autograph Collection hotel in the heart of Downtown Waikiki. This shop is open every day at 4am! They proudly use Stumptown Coffee and use delicious Ghirardelli Chocolate for their mochas. The drink choices are limited, but they make them well. The Hideout also has a small pastry selection, all with a Hawaiian influence to them.
What to get: An Iced mocha with a Cruffin.
Why I love it: The mix of strong Stumptown coffee and rich Ghirardelli chocolate make for the perfect combo early in the morning or on a hot Hawaiian afternoon. The Cruffin-a cross of a croissant and a muffin was the perfect pairing for my Iced Mocha, not too sweet and not too buttery.
The best of two worlds, Kona Coffee and French Pastry, in one gorgeous shop. This was hands down my favorite shop in Waikiki. I just wish I had come here more often, but I had a lot of coffee shops to explore. The Kona Coffee here is high-quality, single-estate Kona, so basically it’s the best of the best. Their master roasters do a fantastic job of finding the sweet spot for each variety of coffee, small batch after small batch. The pastries are to die for! They are made using traditional French techniques and are made fresh multiple times throughout the day.
What to get: A Mocha with a Pineapple Coconut Almond Croissant
Why I love it: Kona Coffee is what Hawai’i is known for, using it as espresso in a perfectly made mocha is the dream! The mocha really was perfect, well balanced, milk expertly aerated, mocha not too sweet and not overly bitter. The croissant was divine! Easily the best croissant I’ve ever had. It was flaky, buttery, and full of delicious pineapple. I think the coconut was on top, but I couldn’t really taste it. This was a dream combo, and my mouth is watering just thinking about it.
I stumbled upon this shop by accident, and I’m so glad I did. This was a late night find, but that wasn’t going to stop me from going in. Kai Coffee uses 100% Hawaiian Coffee and nothing else. You’ll find everything from Kona to Maui Mokka here that can be brewed by Pour Over, French Press or even Aeropress. If drip isn’t your thing, check out their espresso-based drinks.
What to get: An Iced Kai Latte
Why I love it: I’m a sucker for anything mac nut, and the Kai Latte is their signature mac nut latte. Expertly pulled espresso, with big mac nut flavor without overpowering the espresso.
This is the shop to go to for coffee. Twin brothers own this fantastic laid back specialty coffee shop, and they do a tremendous job. The original shop is in Old Kōloa Town, and they recently opened a second location in Līhu’e that I’m dying to visit. Every single detail of the shop, the way the beans are roasted in house, and the drinks are perfectly executed by the brothers and their team. This is the only coffee shop you need to visit on the island, trust me on this.
What to get: A mocha or an Iced coconut latte
Why I love it: Pure perfection! Both drinks were perfect, perfectly aerated milk, expertly pulled espresso, mocha doesn’t overpower the drink, the coconut doesn’t leave a funny aftertaste in your mouth like other syrups. Plus they have super cute, instagrammable paper cups.
Okay, so technically this isn’t a coffee shop, but you need to come here for the experience and coffee tour. Coffee tours are free and run daily from 8:30am-4pm every half an hour. The Greenwell family has been growing Kona Coffee for forty plus years, and they know their stuff! You learn about Kona Coffee, why only specific coffee can be called Kona, history of the farm, you get to go in the fields of coffee trees, and you even get to visit the drying platform and can smell coffee fermenting away, it’s incredible!
What to get: Try as many Kona Coffee samples as your heart desires and don’t forget to buy a few bags before you leave
Why I love it: I always enjoy learning everything I can about coffee, so this tour was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about Kona Coffee and get some free samples in the process.
This was the only coffee experience I got to have on Hawai’i Island. My family and I only had a couple days here, and we had a full itinerary which didn’t leave much time for a ton of coffee shops, but the farm was a great experience to have, and I can’t wait to explore some Hawai’i coffee shops.
I have to confess, I usually come here for a blended coffee. If you know me, you know how much I dislike people who get blended drinks and call them coffee when in reality, it’s mostly sugar. Island Vintage is different though, they actually use Kona coffee in all of their drinks. They have multiple locations across O’ahu and Japan, but only one spot on Maui, and it’s in Whalers Village. I personally like to grab my blended drink and take it to the beach as an afternoon treat.
What to get: If you’re in the mood for a blended drink, get the Vintage Kona Mocha or a Coconut Kona Mocha. If you’re looking for an espresso-based drink, go for the Island Latte.
Why I love it: The Vintage Kona Mocha is similar to the Coconut Kona Mocha except they add Peaberry coffee to it and blend it up. The Island latte is a fantastic mix of mac nut and coconut, either way, you can’t go wrong.
Akamai uses 100% Maui coffee, and it’s locally roasted by their roasters who spend hours making sure each batch of coffee is roasted to perfection, bringing out the highest quality flavor notes, unique to each variety of coffee. They have one full coffee shop in Kihei and a cute little hut that is a drive-thru only, located at the back of the Home Depot parking lot.
What to get: An iced mocha with mac nut syrup or a soy black and white mocha.
Why I love it: The iced mocha with mac nut was fantastic, the mac nut syrup was strong but not too overpowering, with a subtle mocha taste. The iced soy black and white was a perfect balance. Usually, I’m iffy about getting white mocha because it’s often way too sweet for my liking, but this one was pretty good.
Sip Me is 93% Organic and Fair Trade sustainable, they use local and freshly roasted coffee provided by Maui Oma. They have three locations on the island of Maui, I visited the shop in Kahului, it was super cute and simple, they like most coffee shops across the islands offer eco-friendly cups, straws, and utensils.
What to get: Nitro Cold Brew Mocha with Soy
Why I love it: Nitro Cold Brew is so much smoother and creamier than a regular cold brew, and this drink is no exception! Super creamy, with a strong coffee taste, the mocha is just right -a little on the bitter side and not sweet at all. You can’t even tell the Soy is there, all you taste is creamy goodness!
I hope this guide helps with your coffee adventures across the islands. Of course, I haven’t been to every coffee shop out there, but I’ve been to my fair share, and these are by far my favorite. Have you been to any of the coffee shops mentioned in this post? Are there any shops I need to visit? Let me know in the comments below or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Mahalo for reading!