6 Buzzable Coffee Shops That Opened in Honolulu in 2018
There are some real cool beans here.
When it comes to scratching that morning caffeine itch, a cup of Starbucks joe—available on practically every corner—groggily guzzled down will suffice. When our espresso search is, however, a little less of an emergency, we prefer putting in the time to get our lattes from a local brew house. They may not have as many locations, but these gems are worth the trip, boasting charming ambience, hip art collections and artisan ingredients, good enough for more than just a grab-and-to-go drip. We’re talking carefully crafted drinks, plus cozy spots for chatting, getting some work done on our laptops, or just spending some quality time with a cup of cold brew.
The Honolulu coffee shop scene already has some real winners that are hitting it out of the park in these departments—and it’s growing. New spots (as well as improved ones) have been cropping up all over town, giving us an excuse to check out the goods and see what all the buzz is about.
Knots Coffee Roasters
Photo: Natalie Schack
Not to sound like a total hipster, but you probably haven’t been to Knots yet. No, really: This little guy was literally hidden for the past few months it has been open, thanks to the fact that it was inside the walled-up construction in the Queen Kap‘iolani Hotel, right across from the zoo. Walls went down at the end of September, but the rest of the construction won’t be done until November. Don’t let that stop you. Knots serves Kona coffee espresso as well as sweet, creamy, cool treats like its “mocha-damia,” featuring—you guessed it!—mocha and macadamia nut. It’s perfect for beating the heat in this sweltering spot (although with the construction walls down and our tradewinds back in the game, hopefully it’ll cool down). And, bonus? Knots doubles as a bar, which means it’s open late, has a full range of adult bevs for when coffee just ain’t enough and even offers happy hour. (Oh, and there are outlets aplenty. Can you tell we’re outlet-fixated? We’ll definitely be coming back here to get some work done.) 150 Kapahulu Ave., (808) 941-3482, knotscoffee.com.
Ali‘i Coffee Co.
Our new go-to downtown coffee shop is definitely Ali‘i, an artsy-cool little spot on Beretania Street. While we love those wood grain (you’ll see a pattern soon) barstools and stump chairs—they managed to pack a surprising variety of seating into this laid-back little space—it’s the coffee menu that really got us intrigued. These guys are big on cold brew here, but they’ve also concocted some fun “coff-tails,” including the Kula, with just the right amounts of cream and lavender. As in: not too much lavender to taste like soap—if you’ve had lavender lattes before, you know what I mean—or too much cream to taste like cloying, melted ice cream. Make sure you check it out on Nov. 2 (First Friday) for its opening party, which will involve a giveaway raffle, a DJ and local art.
35 S. Beretania St., (808) 532-7928, aliicoffee.com.
Hawaiian Aroma Caffe
PHOTO: NATALIE SCHACK
Bohemian brewsters, rejoice. Hawaiian Aromaʻs newest spot may take a second to find, tucked on the second floor, up the elevators in the Waikīkī Beachcomber hotel (with other locations in T Galleria, the ‘Ilikai hotel and the ‘Ohana East hotel), but once you find it you won’t want to leave. We love how the fern-filled, surfer-chill lounge space is a (self-touted, but totally true) “hip and Instagram worthy gem,” complete with on-trend interior touches such as bronze, raw wood and leather. Plus, it’s rocking a more-than-your-average-coffee-shop menu that includes açaí bowls and loaded waffles. The only downside? Outlets are scarce here, so reserve this spot for relaxing and basking in the vacay vibes, not working.
2300 Kalākaua Ave., (808) 256-2602, hawaiianaromacaffe.com.
Photo: Courtesy of the curb.
The Curb team established themselves as makers of a rock-solid cup of coffee back when they were all the way up Wai‘alae near 10th Avenue. Now, they’re comfortably settled into their newer—and roomier—lower Wai‘alae spot right next to Breadshop. They’ve still got the friendliest baristas you’ll find and stellar pours, but now there’s a bit more room to tuck in, lots of outlets and even a small counter space that you’ll usually find packed with laptop-clicking patrons. Oh, and can we praise the parking gods for a second? The Curb has some of the easiest parking you’ll find in Kaimukī, making it such a breeze to pop in for a quick coffee that it almost makes us teary. The lot is behind the shop; the entrance is on the cross street just before you pass The Curb, if you’re heading toward Kāhala.
3408 Wai‘alae Ave., (808) 367-0757, thecurbkaimuki.com.
Bean About Town
People still stopping by The Curb’s old location will find wee little Bean About Town, a sweet, pleasant hole-in-the-wall. Cute vintage elements (like the old-fashioned menu board) andvintagelike surf art adorn the inside and outside—which is a surprisingly relaxing and quiet patio for being right on Wai‘alae Avenue. Sample the cannelés, crispy cakes with a custardy center, banana bread, or go for the deliciously textured shakarato, a frothy iced espresso and condensed milk concoction, which gets a martinilike shake to create the delicious foaminess. The rewards program itself is enough to catch our attention: Spend $50 and you get a free drink! No outlets here, but we could still see ourselves leisurely doing some offline, battery-powered work at the industrial pipe-leg tables outside.
3538 Wai‘alae Ave.,(808) 673-8300, beanabouttown.com.
Kona Coffee Purveyors
Photo: Courtesy of Kona Coffee Purveyors
When this International Market Place spot first opened a couple to years ago, with its to-die-for b. Patisserie pastries, mall wifi and classic bistrolike interior, we had few complaints. Except space—or lack of it. Turns out we weren’t the only ones feeling the pinch in this ultra-popular café, because Kona Coffee Purveyors recently expanded into the shop between its original location and Honolulu Cookie Co., doubling its seating space. The new room has slightly less adorable, but inarguably more functional bar-height counter-style seating with a sleek wood-grain aesthetic, plus a display of coffee beans. There’s also even more seating, outside on the mall corridor side, because those crowds of sesame kouign amann lovers are nothing to scoff at.
2330 Kalākaua Ave., (808) 450-2364, konacoffeepurveyors.com.