Serious Coffee Shops in Hawaii

Serious Joe: Hawaii grows some of the best coffee in the world. A pair of new cafés are getting serious about serving it.

Morning Glass will serve its coffee any way you like it.

photo: olivier koning

These days, a job at Starbucks doesn’t earn you much coffee cred. But Eric Rose worked for Starbucks back when there were only five stores in Seattle, and “everyone involved was artists, musicians, writers, editors,” he says. “It was a very, very cultural place to be. The passion for coffee was exceptional.” Now, after 20 years of opening cafes for other companies, Rose has a place of his own where he’s recapturing the serious coffee culture of the original Starbucks company.

At Morning Glass, in Manoa, the craft of coffee comes first. Each cup is individually brewed through a Chemex filter, whether it’s fair-trade coffee, meticulously sourced from around the world and roasted by famed micro-roaster Stumptown in Portland, or a Hawaii-grown coffee that Rose has carefully roasted in-house, serving it within days of processing.

When Rose first came to Honolulu, he found that, “You can’t get great Hawaiian coffee by the cup. The best beans, the ones that coffee writers talk about, the ones that win awards, sell for $50 a pound.” By seeking out good growers and roasting the beans himself, sometimes just a few pounds at a time, he’s able to offer some of those heady brews for affordable prices.

Even if you’re not a coffee geek, Morning Glass is an inviting space with a simple, but sophisticated, menu of food and drink, from iced lattes frothed in a shaker with ice to a cinnamon soda made from Big Island cinnamon bark. Even the syrups are house-made.

There’s also a full-fledged kitchen, rare among coffee shops, and delicious food emerges from within: baked goods such as bacon-cheddar scones and coffee cake; sandwiches, including a grilled cheese with Gruyere, grilled onions and prosciutto; and, on weekends, a breakfast menu that features comfort food such as biscuits and gravy. Now that’s worth waking up for. 2955 E. Manoa Road, 673-0065. , Monday through Saturday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Dennis McQuoid gets creative with brewing.

Photo: David Croxford

Beach Bum Café

Honolulu may never have the same café culture as coffee cities such as Seattle, Portland and San Francisco, but we have the advantage of living in the only state that grows coffee.

Dennis McQuoid, owner of Beach Bum Café, honors our local coffee farmers by serving only 100 percent Hawaiian coffee. This is the place to taste the terroir of Hawaii’s various coffee-growing regions, including the North Shore of Oahu, Kualapuu, Molokai, and Kula, Maui.

In this alone, Beach Bum Café is unique, but it’s also the place to experience different brewing techniques, from the familiar (espresso) to the esoteric (vacuum pot). There are a total of five brewing apparatuses, each exposing distinct flavors in the beans. The French press, for example, yields a richer, thicker brew, while the Chemex filters out some of the oils for a brighter, lighter cup. 1088 Bishop St., Suite 101, 521-6699.