PeleKai Is a New One-Woman Coffee Shop in Kaka‘ako
Think Hawai‘i coffees, house-made nut milks and rainbow tea lattes.
If there’s anything that excites me, it’s new coffee places. I’ve tried coffee all around the country, always searching for the next smooth latte. So when my Frolic colleague Gregg Hoshida told me about a new cafe across the street from Whole Foods in Kaka‘ako, I had to check it out.
PeleKai Coffee is on Queen Street in the Still & Moving Center across from Whole Foods Market. Owner Emily Hunt sources from Hawai‘i roasters such as Big Island Coffee Roasters and Tradition Coffee Roasters, as well as roasters from Las Vegas, Portland and Vancouver; and gets her add-on syrups from Pono Potions. As someone who only orders non-dairy milk, I was pleased to find she offers oat, coconut, cashew and macadamia nut milks. And here’s the kicker: Hunt makes these milk alternatives in-house.
We ordered an iced caramel latte and iced vanilla latte, each $5, and added cashew milk for an additional $1.25—about the average price for a cup of coffee nowadays. The vanilla syrup wasn’t too sweet and the house-made cashew milk not overly rich. Next time I want to try the oat milk, which on this day wasn’t ready yet.
Besides espressos, cappuccinos, macchiatos, cortados, americanos and other coffee drinks, the menu includes several teas and rainbow superfood tea lattes ($5.50). The pink dragon tea latte is made with dragon fruit, hibiscus, pineapple syrup and milk; while green matcha uses premium matcha from Kyoto, hand-whisked in the traditional tea ceremony way, with vanilla and milk. Food items include mango vegan butter mochi, chia pudding with mango coconut and cacao, and chai power bites ($1.75) which are vegan and gluten-free.
Hunt’s other job is videographer and editor at Hawai‘i Opera Theatre. The idea of starting a coffee business began when Hunt met her husband, David Hunt, about five years ago. A professional stage manager for 20 years, Emily had worked on Kurios by Cirque du Soleil and was ready for a less stressful lifestyle. She had lived in Japan and liked the culture of simplicity, healthy living and dedicated pursuit of one’s passions. The decision to open a coffee shop brought all that together with her childhood joy of playing pretend store and restaurant. Its name, PeleKai, reflects her personality (fiery lava) and David’s (calming ocean), which come together to build and shape a growing island.
Hunt is a one-woman operation, the only one making the drinks and cashiering, so your coffee may take a few minutes if there are other customers ahead of you. We went around 11 a.m. when no one else was in the shop and didn’t wait longer than five minutes. Outdoor seating is available, and there are a few parking stalls directly in front of the shop.