As a token of appreciation to all the contributors and to the destination experts that give their time to help us "tourists" out, I wanted to write a simple little report on my trip to Oahu from a coffee perspective. Much credit should be given to the many people who helped me find my way.
The Hawaiian islands are truly unique, not just from a aesthetic perspective, but there is something special in the soil. Perhaps it inherent to lands that border volcanoes. Be it fruits, vegetables, vines or coffee trees, there is just nothing else like it. And it is unique to each land, whether it be the wines that border Etna in Sicily or the coffee plantations in Kona.
Green coffee beans:
Originally I posted a question about purchasing green beans to roast at home, and I got great advice. For those that are interested in this specific topic, the only place I could purchase green beans on Oahu was Waialua Coffee Estate. There isn't much to see there, the "tour" if you can call it that, is about 5 minutes in the back of the barn. and they show you some of the cocoa beans (tasty) and talk about the coffee estate. You can buy cocoa beans too.
The conversation alone was worth the trip to me, but I am easily swept away when my favourite topics are discussed. Waialua Coffee Estate is owned by the Dole company, and they are the only coffee plantation on the island of Oahu. They have very serious coffees, and both green and roasted are available for purchase. The roasted comes in the vacuum packaging that most people know. They have tastings, and if you are lucky (I was not), there is a master roaster in the place (not related to the farm per se, but an enjoyable fellow who has much knowledge and is willing to share some good conversation).
I was able to bring both roasted and green beans back home. The department of Agriculture scanned by bags and they didn't say a word, so I guess it is ok to bring these items home (you may want to check on your own if you wish).
Coffee houses: I only visited 2 coffee places. The Beach Bum Cafe, and the Honolulu Coffee Company. I have written reports on both of these places. I learned so much at the Beach Bum Cafe. I should have written so much of that information down because it is hard to remember it all. The Hawaiian islands contain many extremely good coffee areas - from my knowledge, there isn't an island that does not have a coffee area. The map is on the wall. I learned so much just hanging around every day. And the coffee is extremely good - the best I have ever had. Simply made, the delicate and complex flavours come out from the attention paid to every cup. Each cup is made to order - weighed, ground and then made to perfection. Nothing extra is needed - such as sugar or milk. In fact, as true coffee lovers know, a cup of coffee that is outstanding should be drunk plain. Over the 5 days that I was there, I drank 3 daily cups and I went thru the entire menu. Absolutely fantastic. As well, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the wonderful people that work there. With their enthusiasm, concentration on making the perfect cup and knowledge to the topic, you would think they belonged to some religious coffee cult! The cafe also has a little Hawaiian coffee book, that I perused while enjoying my daily visit, and in the end I asked the owner and he obtained by a couple of copies. I recommend that you pick one up. I have read it and enjoyed it very much. My only negative comment is that this is a coffee place - there is just a small selection of some nibbles. I guess if they offered food, I would never leave, so maybe it is intentional.
The Honolulu Coffee Company is a wonderful and more traditional coffee shop. It has the food that most people attribute to a coffee shop and it is in a beautiful building, wonderfully appointed and right in the heart of Waikiki. The regular coffee to me was quite good, just not outstanding. It was a Kona blend. The barista told me it was about 30% Kona, with a good portion of Sumatra (I think) and some others. With the Beach Bum Cafe closed on Sundays, I returned to the HCC and gave it a second chance. I read the board carefully, trying to find something good to have and I landed on the 100% Kona French Press. The menu board stated that it is 24oz, so you will need a friend if you order this. Boy am I glad I have it another chance. This cup reminded me of the Kona coffee I had on the Big Island back in 2011. It was absolutely perfect.
That's it folks. I wish all coffee lovers happy travels and please, please pass along any new finds back here on this website. I need to review in a few years, because as the Californian governator used to say, "I'll be back".