Lots of people dream of visiting Hawaii. It’s known for its beautiful beaches, romantic hotspots, and gorgeous wildlife, so there's a lot to do and explore in the state.
However, very few travel blogs will touch on the fledgling coffee culture in Hawaii.
Even though Hawaii accounts for less than 1% of the global coffee production, it brings in around $50 million annually, and there is an estimated 1,000 coffee farms throughout Hawaii. For example, the Kauai Coffee Company is a 3,100 acres estate that hosts over 4 million coffee trees, making it not only Hawaii's largest coffee grower but the largest coffee grower in the United States as well.
Coffee has become a staple in the state's morning routine, with some backyard farmers in Hawaii growing their own coffee as a hobby. As noted in Beyond Coffee, drinking coffee is a habit for 80% of the world, as we consume caffeine each day to give us a boost. Among other foods and beverages for daily intake, coffee beans have become a source of energy for us, regardless of what we do. For Hawaii and Hawaiians, coffee is more than just agriculture stats — it is its own culture.
Hawaii's own "Doctor Coffee"
Hawaii's love affair with coffee runs deep, historically and culturally, that the state even has a coffee expert — or coffee doctor — in the form of Shawn Steiman, Ph.D. He specializes in coffee studies and owns a coffee consulting company called Coffea Consulting. Steiman is also author of several coffee-centric books, namely The Hawaii Coffee Book, which goes in-depth about the coffee culture in the state. From information on Hawaiian coffee laws to ethical farming and coffee roasting techniques, the book is the perfect choice for coffee enthusiasts — even those who think they already know all there is to know about coffee and Hawaii. Complete with gorgeous coffee photography and recipes, Steiman's book is as much for a local's coffee education as it is for a tourist's guide, boasting a more detailed glimpse into the Hawaii coffee industry than any other book on the market.
Maui and Coffee
Hawaii is known for its Kona coffee the most — known for its light, sweet, and fruity taste when roasted — but coffee production rapidly grew since it was first introduced to the island in 1828. While coffee can be cultivated almost anywhere in Hawaii, Maui is one of the state's regions with the most extensive commercial production. Today, Maui is home to a diverse array of coffee varieties, such as the Maui Mokka, which features organically grown Mokka beans mixed with a range of chocolate flavors. This fascination for coffee soon gave birth to vast cafe culture in and around Maui.
Cafe Culture in Maui
We've mentioned the famous and welcoming Kihei Caffe in a previous GM Maui post, one of our most recommended breakfast joints located in South Maui. Serving not only coffee but a menu of delicious dishes and a laidback atmosphere great for family time, Kihei Caffe opened in 1996 and recently opened a new shop in Lahaina! Locals and tourists alike can enjoy their award-winning corned beef hash, French toast, and pork fried rice on top of locally brewed coffee.
In downtown Wailuku, one of our favorite coffee houses, Wailuku Coffee Co. serves our favorite bagel, cream cheese, and lox combo on top of great coffee. It's a great spot to meet and relax in, and the people who work there are super friendly. Whether you're going for breakfast or lunch, though, be sure to head there early as there's always a line.
Maui also recently opened its first cat cafe, the Cat Cafe Maui, where guests can lounge and sip premium coffee while hanging out with rescue cats who are also available for adoption. A concept popularized in Japan, cat cafes are a haven for cat lovers and coffee enthusiasts, particularly those who want to destress and experience a change of pace from the busy atmospheres of regular cafes. Cat Cafe Maui also sells cat-related merchandise, with plans to host events such as Kitty Yoga and Movie Nights in the future.
As you can see, coffee is integral to Hawaii's culture and tourism. We often promote life in Maui with the promise of its many scenic views, but sometimes, the best experience can be a well-brewed cup of Hawaiian coffee as you greet the sunrise on the island.