Cafe Central in First Hawaiian Bank

Cafe Central, a microcafe to find

Photo: Hal Lum


What to get

• An expertly pulled espresso (single $2.15)
• Iced coffee (small $2.50)
• Affogato ($3.75)
• Gelato sundae with housemade chocolate syrup and whipped cream (off-the-menu)

Cafe Central is a little sliver of a cafe in the First Hawaiian Bank Building. It used to be a broom closet; now it offers pour-over coffees and coffee brewed via siphon. For the geeks, that’s a Bonmac halogen three-unit siphon bar—probably the only one on the island. In training, Cafe Central consulted famed Blue Bottle Coffee in San Francisco. For the aesthetes, ordering a cup is like watching your coffee being brewed in an antique chemistry lab.

Max and Mary Suiter transformed the former broom closet into its current Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired space. Max and his brother, Raymond, started Honolulu Coffee Co., hence the attention to detail in the coffee and espresso drinks. The beans are supplied by Raymond, who started a roasting business after leaving Honolulu Coffee Co: The cafe uses mostly blends, including one with 100 percent Kona coffee. To accompany your cup, Cafe Central offers pastries primarily from Fendu Boulangerie, supplementing the baked-goods case with blueberry doughnuts from St. Germain Bakery, banana bread from Cakeworks and oatcakes from Akamai Foods. Cafe Central also scoops Il Gelato gelato: An affogato (gelato with a shot of espresso) is a popular request here.

Max, a general contractor, built this tiny cafe as his own pet project. He commissioned stained glass from a North Shore artist and installed all the wood paneling using wood from a fallen red eucalyptus tree that he had been saving for 12 years.

“We weren’t looking to get back in [the coffee business],” Mary says—the couple had sold their share in Honolulu Coffee Co. long ago. “But when this opportunity came up, one little place, we thought it’d be great.”

Cafe Central inside the First Hawaiian Bank, 999 Bishop St., 306-9284,