Hawaii is a hub for Asian cuisines, seafood, and seasonal ingredients. The island chain is also the only place in the U.S. where coffee grows on a regular basis with convincing results. Learn about six places to drink satisfying coffee in Honolulu, the state capital and the biggest city on Hawaii’s third largest island.
Numbers on the map correspond to listings below and appear in alphabetical order instead of order of preference.
Olivier Vetter took over a square, glass sided specialty coffee bar in Kaimuki, rebranded as Bean About Town, and equipped baristas with a two-group La Marzocco espresso machine, a Faema lever machine, and California-roasted Verve Coffee beans. They deliver textbook classics, plus flavorful specialty beverages like the shakerato, which features espresso and milk shaken with ice and lightly sweetened. Da Kine is a green smoothie that’s far less complicated to drink than to describe, made with spinach, almond milk, almond butter, banana, honey, matcha, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp hearts, and cacao. Bean About Town also serves satisfying pastries from nearby Pipeline Bakeshop & Creamery.
MUST ORDER: Shakerato, Da Kine Smoothie
2. Brue Bar
HONBLUE/Electric Pencil founders Larry and Matt Heim debuted their stylish Brue Bar concept in 2013 and continue to preach Cognizance • Coffee • Creativity at two downtown locations. Their coffee program showcases Verve Coffee using copper Slayer espresso machines, Alpha Dominche Steampunk brewers, and Kyoto-style cold brew towers. I suggest sticking with single-origin coffee, house cold brew, and flavorful teas like Lavenderberry.
MUST ORDER: Steampunk Coffee, House Cold Brew, Lavenderberry Tea
Fred Hokada founded Downtown Coffee in Pioneer Plaza, specializing in Hawaiian beans that he roasts, brews and sells on-site and supplies to nearby cafes like Gorilla in the Cafe. Espresso drinks starring shots pulled on a two-group Nuova Simonelli machine are my preference. Wife Fumiko contributes pastries like her earthy adzuki bean torte and matcha torte with bamboo charcoal shortbread crust. Many businesspeople grab and go, but the courtyard does host tables.
MUST ORDER: Coffee, Adzuki Torte, Matcha Torte