Editor’s Page: Perking Along

Finding out what fuels us best.
Photo: Adam Jung

Coffee carves out a place in our lives that’s different from other drinks.

People know what they want from a coffee shop.

Maybe it’s a no-nonsense caffeine kick-start to the morning, that perfect-cup-of-coffee-to-linger-over anytime. The details matter.

And yet, coffee is easy. Coffee offers a low-key way to meet. It takes less time or commitment than lunch or dinner. Coffee lacks the occasional awkwardness or murkier expectations of a drink. And nearly everyone can afford a cup of coffee, even geeky gourmet coffee.

This month, we asked our staff to tell us their coffee shop orders and quickly got a wide array of answers, not confined strictly to coffee. Which makes sense, as coffee shops have become our default meeting places, study halls and public places of refuge from our rush-around lives.

Our food and dining editor Martha Cheng roamed the Big Island of Hawai‘i and O‘ahu to help us learn more about everything connected to coffee. She drank cup after cup, sometimes pour-over coffee, other times, espresso. She traveled to coffee groves to see how beans are grown, harvested and roasted. She sought out the most intense coffee experts to get this story, which meant she ramped up her own coffee consumption to five cups a day.  Judging from the messages we got from her, caffeine fueled more frequent writing sessions where she typed faster since she found it harder to sit still. There’s no sign of jitters in the fascinating story she brought back, though. Senior editor David Thompson joined in the café crawl and introduces us to coffee farms in every county. Also in the feature, a guide to exploring discriminating coffee shops, with instructions on what to order as “an average Joe” or a coffee geek.

Hawai‘i remains the only state in the country that grows coffee commercially, giving us yet another lucky-we-live-here bragging right to consume fresh locally grown coffee that’s getting more diverse and interesting by the month.

Kicked up a notch by good coffee or just gearing up for the holidays often leaves us looking for ways to make a difference in our busy lives. Associate editor Katrina Valcourt is here to help with “23 Ways to Volunteer,” sorted by broad interests—you’d rather be in a museum or hip-deep in a lo‘i, you like animals or people, behind the scenes or on stage—and by commitment level. We start with 23 ways to volunteer, but happily can point to even more ways to give back.

The start of cooler weather has us thinking about winter swells coming to the North Shore. This issue, we go into the world of “Big Surf” with freelance writer and former HONOLULU Magazine intern Amanda Whiting. She gives us a peek inside the oceanfront Volcom house, where we meet folks who live, work and play in the surfing industry. While it’s still all about riding the waves, there’s an increasingly businesslike environment that’s way more about the brand and the performance than the beer-and-bong stereotypes of old.

This issue also includes the ever-useful Best Lawyers in Hawai‘i list, which is gleaned from what attorneys say about their peers and curated by Woodward/White, publishers of The Best Lawyers in America.

And we round out our issue with a behind–the-scenes look at the first HONOLULU Fashion Week, which took place Nov. 6 to 9 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center, and brought together fashion experts from New York and Japan as well as a bevy of homegrown talent, all working to push Hawai‘i fashion forward.

We hope this issue, like a good cup of coffee, offers something to grab onto and savor as we approach the holidays.

Did you know? Less than half of Hawai‘i’s coffee production comes from the Big Island.


Read More Stories by ROBBIE DINGEMAN