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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Coffee growing on Molokai


It’s one of my favorite things in the world. I love having a freshly brewed cup first thing in the morning.

I also love sipping a cup of REALLY STRONG coffee that has been sitting on a heat source for far too long.

I love it.

And I’m NOT a coffee snob.

I love the coffee from the islands, of course.

But …

I can also totally get down with a “cuppa Joe” from the gas station.

When I was working my corporate gig here in NYC, I would buy a “bucket size” coffee every morning and then drink that until lunchtime. Yes, it would get cold. And, yes, I would continue to drink it as I made my morning rounds.

I can hear coffee aficionados gasping in horror: Sipping a cup of coffee all morning? Egads!

But like I said, I’d order a “bucket size” coffee. It was cheaper than getting a bunch of smaller, fresh cups. And since I’d paid for it, I was determined to drink it all. I’ll admit, it’s an ACQUIRED taste, for sure!

Have you guys been to Coffees of Hawaiʻi on Molokai? It’s a coffee drinker’s paradise. Some of the beans grow RIGHT THERE on the property! Their little café serves up delicious coffee treats. Their gift shop has all sorts of cool stuff—and features work made by local artists! (Which is totally cool because WE’VE GOTTA SUPPORT THE LOCAL ARTISTS! )

And they have LIVE music several times a week!

Coffee, locally produced arts and crafts AND live music. Sounds like heaven, right?

(I’ll be doing a BIG BLOG POST on them soon! But please check out their website here.)

Here’s the irony: I love coffee. And … Molokai has FANTASTIC locally grown coffee readily available for sale and consumption. And …

I don’t drink coffee when I’m in Hālawa Valley.


I know… I still can’t really explain it. The Hālawa Valley cabin is virtually coffee-free. There are a few plasic canisters of the instant stuff tucked away on the shelves. I’m sure it’s only there for the guests who come to visit and/or stay.

But Mom and Pops Solatorio don’t drink it!

They’ve never said that I shouldn’t drink it. They’ve never stood with their hands on their hips and told me that coffee is evil. Or wrong. I think they might have even offered a cup of the instant java to me the first time I stayed there.

But it’s not necessary for them to have a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. Or late in the afternoon. Or right before going to bed at night. They can survive without coffee— EVER!

I was shocked. And I was terrified.

As a coffee lover ( AND as a New Yorker who truly believed that he NEEDED his cup of liquid magic in the morning in order to function as a normal human being) I was blown away that I’d ended up in a coffee-free zone!


It happens every time. I get terrible headaches from caffeine withdrawals. But those pass in a few days. And the wonder of being in the historic and wild Hālawa Valley makes it easy to forget about the pain.


I survive. Every time I go there I think I’m not going to make it. But I do. And don’t even need it— desperately–when we leave the valley.

But of course, when we pass a place that offers it, I take full advantage of the situation and buy the BIGGEST cup of coffee they have.

(BTW: My coffee habit ALWAYS resumes the minute I leave Molokai. I don’t know that I’ll ever be coffee-free!)

I know there are coffee lovers out there. And I want to hear from you!

What is that YOU love about the stuff?

6 Responses to “Coffee.”

  1. carol Brown says:

    So, Monday morning, power outage, no electricity. Roofer doing shingles so I couldn’t use the wood stove to boil water. After 2 hours I had to, had to have my cuppa. So I drove 10 miles to town to get coffee. I just was not going to do without. That’s how much I love/need my morning cup of life. It starts my brain and heart.. Without it I am just zombie woman. It’s part of my morning ritual. And if you want great coffee from Hawaii order Aikane Coffee from Ka’u. They are also advertised as “Kona coffee” but the beans are grown in Ka’u and I think its superior to Kona coffee grown above Kealakekua Bay, Captain Cook area. (And I had a friend who had a coffee farm there for years). If you want a great cup of coffee, try Aikane

    Let me know if it’s better than Kaua’i or Moloka’i coffee

  2. NoHo says:

    I love it soooooooo much… in theory. And then the cup gets to my lips and the bitter ickyness touches my tongue and scalds and once again I am left wondering how something that smells so delectable could possibly taste so dreadful.

    Tea. Yum. The end.

  3. meghan says:

    I’m with you, Jason. I will suck on that cold cuppa joe all day long if it’s the only thing going, or if I paid for it. It’s mine! I’m responsible for it! Who else is going to make sure that magic brew of beans and water meets its maker properly? It’s my job to give it a proper send-off. And I’m a coffee populist. Crappy coffee, diner coffee, convenience store coffee…anything but flavored coffee. Don’t you put that evil on me, you hazelnut enthusiasts, you French vanilla wannabes. Just pour me a cup of the real deal. In fact, you might as well just make another pot. I’ll be over here.

  4. Dara Faust says:

    Okay… so I’m done with May Day festivities, caught up on sleep and totally ready to respond to this most important of important posts….. COFFEE. Something I live for. Something I love smelling, tasting, drinking in quantity, talking about, sharing.

    Amazingly enough, a few short years ago, I was NOT a coffee drinker. I turned up my nose at even the thought of it, let alone the smell of it. I spurned those addicted to it’s caffeine. And then I discovered Hawaiian coffee. THIS was coffee not to be taken lightly or doctored up with milk/cream/sugar. THIS was COFFEE. Unadulterated joy in a cup.

    Since this epiphany in my life, I would definitely call myself a coffee snob. I invest in the best: Moloka’i Muleskinner, Kaua’i Red Catuai & others, Kona Da Kine. There is a new Mainland discovery: Blue Bottle Coffee based in CA with a new outpost in Brooklyn. They freshly roast all kinds of site specific beans from Africa, Indonesia, and elsewhere. They also custom blend to make some really interesting and TASTY cups.

    So, this is a start to knowing my coffee palate. But there is a whole chapter to be discovered on the art of brewing………. :) and then drinking…… Mmmm, I can already smell tomorrow morning’s cup.

  5. jason says:

    You guys REALLY know your coffee! I look forward to exploring this more. And I’d love to keep this discussion going.

    Am I the only one out there that can “stomach” a cup of old coffee from the gas station?

    Is it the brew that I’m addicted to? The caffeine? The aroma? The concept/idea of coffee?

    What are your thoughts?

  6. Enjoyed reading through this, very good stuff, appreciate it.