6 Places to Get Your Cold-Brew Coffee Fix in Honolulu
Cool off with a coffee drink that goes down easy.
Hawai‘i’s recent hot, humid weather has us reaching for anything iced and caffeinated. Cold-brew coffee has become our go-to drink, replacing old favorites like hazelnut lattes, iced mochas and dirty chais.
Because the coffee molecules haven’t been broken down by heat, cold-brew coffee is approximately 67 percent less acidic, smoother in flavor and higher in caffeine content than coffee conventionally brewed with hot water.
Here are our top six picks for cold-brew coffee around O‘ahu.
1. Kai Coffee Hawai‘i
Photos: Alyssa Amasol
The secret to Kai Coffee Hawai‘i’s cold brew is purified water. Owner Sam Suiter uses a reverse osmosis filtration system he says is key to the taste. A South American blend of coffee beans is roasted locally, then ground and steeped for 18 to 20 hours. Suiter calls the cold brew “a highly enhanced expression of the coffee’s natural flavor,” which must be why it’s one of Kai Coffee’s top selling drinks. It also uses the cold brew in its frappés for a richer flavor.
$3.50 (25 percent kama‘āina discount is available), Kai Coffee Hawai‘i, 2424 Kalākaua Ave., Suite 129, 923-1700
2. ARS Café
ARS Café crafts its cold brew with a Kyoto drip system. Popular in Japan, the slow-drip system eases ice water through the coffee grinds. Six to eight hours later, a fresh batch of cold-brew coffee.
$3, ARS Café, 3116 Monserrat Ave., 258-3472
3. Morning Glass Coffee + Café
The toddy iced coffee at Morning Glass Coffee + Café has helped the shop reduce its waste while upholding its freshness standard. After 10 days, the shop feels that coffee beans aren’t fresh enough to be served in a pour-over. Rather than let them go to waste, the beans are put into the toddy system and, 16 to 18 hours later, served as iced coffee. Manager Mahina Akimoto says, “It definitely is a lot more forgiving than if you were doing it by the cup. Those need to be really fresh.”
Morning Glass’ coffee is a blend of Four Barrel from San Francisco and Coava from Portland. However, it also serves single-origin coffees in smaller batches. The toddy iced coffee stands out with a slight chocolate taste and fruitiness to it. Morning Glass also serves a Vietnamese-style iced coffee with condensed milk. It’s one of the café’s most popular drinks and perfect for those who want a sugar buzz with their caffeine.
$4, Morning Glass Coffee + Café, 2955 East Mānoa Road, 673-0065
4. Honolulu Coffee
With delicate notes of dark chocolate, sweet raisins and a hazelnut finish, cold-brew coffee is one of the most popular drinks served at Honolulu Coffee. The house blend is made with 60-percent Columbian coffee and 40-percent Brazilian coffee roasted right in the center of the Honolulu Coffee Experience Center, then freshly ground and steeped in a toddy system for 12 to 16 hours. From the aroma of freshly roasted coffee to the expansive outdoor dining area, high ceilings and unique architecture, the Honolulu Coffee Experience Center is a place to be explored.
$4, Honolulu Coffee, 1800 Kalākaua Ave., 202-2562
Manifest uses a Waialua micro-roast for its cold-brew coffee, meaning the beans are grown in smaller batches, each with a slightly different flavor. The dark-roast beans are ground and steeped for 12 to 24 hours. The earthy and almost musky flavor makes it the second-most popular coffee at Manifest, after the dirty chai.
$3, Manifest, 32 N. Hotel St.
6. Local Joe
For a stronger cold brew, Local Joe is the place to go. For owner and roast master Charles Asselbaye, freshness is key. With 20 years of experience, he roasts the beans in-house to ensure quality and freshness. The coarse grinds are put into a Yama cold-brew system and left overnight for 10 to 12 hours to produce a deep, dark Italian roast, “almost like a craft cold brew,” Asselbaye says.
Local Joe also makes a popular Vietnamese version to which it adds condensed milk.
$3.35, Local Joe, 110 Marin St., 536-7700