Waikiki has to be one of the most touristy areas on the planet, with people from across the globe spilling over sidewalks. The Honolulu hotel and shopping district sure has its share of chains, but some focused culinary specialists are hidden in plain sight. On my most recent trip to Hawaii, I was staying at the Waikiki Parc Hotel. Around the corner, a strange sight caught my eye, a flashy green La Marzocco espresso machine. Spotting top-flight coffee equipment signaled serious coffee at VG Gallery Studio Cafe in Taipei, and that same indicator led to some of the best coffee I’ve had in Hawaii, at Gorilla in the Cafe.
Korean actor Bae Yong Joon opened his glass-fronted cafe in July. He also owns a restaurant in Seoul called Gorilla in the Kitchen and respects the animal’s health and strength. The interior features reclaimed wood walls and houses the aforementioned La Marzocco, two Mazzer grinders, a Bonmac pourover coffee bar, and a healthy retail presence. The gorilla also serves shave ice, but we were happy to enjoy that Hawaiian treat elsewhere.
Peaberry was bright, and fairly floral, but does anybody ever really sense exactly the same tasting notes as the label dictates? A barista named Sam filled me in and prepared my coffee.