In 2016, there were over 960 active coffee farms in operation on the Big Island. The rich volcanic soils from Mauna Loa, the ample rainfall and the plentiful shade provided by the island vegetation make Hawaii a prime location to grow and produce coffee. In fact, Kona Coffee has become one of the most coveted beans in the world and a mug of Kona Coffee is now one of the most expensive cups of joe you can buy. The wonderfully complex, aromatic beans produced on the island have become a point of pride for many local farmers who compete in annual competitions that decide who gets to say they pour the best cup of coffee in Hawaii. For visitors and locals in the know, here are some of the best cafes you can visit to try locally roasted Kona coffee.
Lava Java is probably one of the better-known eateries on this list, but it’s because their coffee and cuisine is so good, it’s hard to keep it a secret. They serve 100% Kona Coffee sourced from local farmers on the island, and are rumored to have some of the best brews in Kona. Just ask their 2,000+ reviewers on TripAdvisor. Enjoy ocean views as you sip your morning coffee and munch on one of their famous cinnamon rolls. Get there early if you plan to sample the baked goods—they sell out fast!
The Tin Shack Bakery and Restaurant
The Tin Shack in Puna is a favorite among locals in the area and has recently begun to make a name for itself among tourists in the know. The owner, Matt, originally sold his bread, scones, rolls, and coffee blends at a local farmer’s market. When his treats gained notoriety, he refurbished an old tire shop and the Tin Shack was born. Now, it’s a quaint, eclectic eatery that offers an array of breakfast and lunch items coupled with what is rumored to be some of the tastiest coffee on the island. Reviewers on their Facebook page rave about coffee that is citrusy, nutty, and has a light smoky finish.
The Coffee Shack
Just south of the Capitan Cook post office you’ll find The Coffee Shack overlooking a lush mountainside filled with coffee bean trees. Here, visitors can enjoy a coffee on the wide porch—or lanai as the locals call it—and view the lands on which those same beans were grown. The Coffee Shack sources their supply from Kahauloa Estate trees that have been producing some of the best coffee on the islands for over 85 years. The unbeatable view of Kealakekua Bay is another reason this location makes our list of must-visit cafes on the Big Island.
The Waimea Coffee Company
A hipster coffee bar with a laid-back vibe, Waimea Coffee Company is frequently voted the best cup of coffee in northern Hawaii. While the seating is limited and there is usually a bit of a wait, the coffee sources from nearby local farms is truly delicious—we promise. The presentation is stunning to the point of coffee snobbery, but the feeling of Aloha is what keeps the locals (and adventurous tourists) coming back again and again.
We hope you enjoy visiting these cafes and partaking in the rich coffee culture on our island!
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