Best Hawaiian Coffee Brands

Go behind the scenes of Hawaii's largest coffee farm

From the visitor's deck at Kauai Coffee, you can see the shimmering ocean on one side and rolling farmland surrounded by forested mountains on the other. The view is spectacular enough to keep you occupied. But then you'd be missing the tour, a roughly 40–minute guided excursion through coffee trees and through the seed–to–cup production process. And besides, you've also got roasts to sample: more than 27, in fact.

Photo: Courtesy of Kauai Coffee

"Seed–to–cup" is exactly as it sounds, Jon Ching, the orchard operations manager, says. Kauai Coffee plants the trees, harvests the berries, dries and sorts the beans, and then roasts them, all on the property. They compost coffee pulp and skins, which are high in potassium, and lay the matter back onto the soil. They also plant cover crops, like turnips, in the orchard, which naturally help the soil. As Ching puts it, "This is a true Kauai–made product."

Photo: Courtesy of Kauai Coffee

The seed–to–cup process isn't the only thing that sets Kauai Coffee apart, though. At 10 square miles, it is the largest coffee farm in the state, which also makes it the largest in the country, because Hawaii is the only state that grows coffee commercially. Growing exclusively arabica coffee means an inherently good cup of coffee, but Kauai's especially wet climate and mineral–rich soil take things to the next level.

With its wide variety of roasts, Kauai Coffee has something to suit every taste. Try the Blue Mountain Dark Roast, which is popular for its well–balanced, rich notes. Or the Rooster Alarm Clock, which offers a buttery mouthfeel, a mild acidity and a strong aroma. If you're into floral brews, try the Aunty Aloha, which has notes of rose and jasmine, and finishes with hints of clove and anise. And if you're a Keurig user, Kauai Coffee even has a biodegradable K–Cup. Add cream and sugar if you want, or take your cup the way Ching does: black, because it doesn't need a thing.

Photo: Kauai Coffee via Instagram

Beyond Kauai, coffee is grown all around the state; the island of Hawaii is known for Kona coffee, grown on smaller farms, like Kona Coffee Purveyors, within strictly delineated Kona districts. On Maui, there's Maui Coffee Co.; on Oahu, Waialua Estate; and on off-the-beaten path Moloka'i, there are beans grown by Coffees of Hawaii. The only catch? No other coffee shop will ever live up.