You and your spouse have treated yourselves to an entire week at Koloa Landing Resort on the glorious South Shore of Kauai and are still pinching yourselves that you’re actually here. In your near-giddy happiness to be on the island, you have vowed to try every one of the neighborhood’s coffee joints together. 

Today you’re sampling some fresh joe on the bright canary-and-turquoise lanai of the hipster-ish Little Fish Coffee house in Poipu. You ordered a 12-ounce seasonal organic handbrew with a slug of half-and-half and it does not disappoint. Its earthy aroma, darkly bitter flavor softened by the sweet cream, and welcome jolt of caffeine are the perfect jumpstart for the day’s adventures. Your spouse’s double-shot latte seems to be a hit, too, evidenced by his closed eyes and contented half smile as he sips. 

You ask how it is and he emits a prolonged, “Mmmmmm.”

Why does everything seem to taste better on Kauai? Is it because the ingredients are superior? Is it because you have slowed down enough to appreciate the nuances? You decide it’s both, as you leisurely enjoy the brew and the view. 

You start chatting with two young women at the next table, and when you discover they are locals you can’t help but ask them, “Is it our imagination or does the coffee just taste better here on Kauai?” 

“Honestly . . . everything is pretty much better here,” the one in the hat says with a laugh. 

She tells you she used to be a barista at the coffee bar of one of the big hotels and is happy to share some of her local coffee trivia. For starters, you are surprised to hear that the tiny island of Kauai is home to the single largest coffee plantation in the United States! In fact, who knew that Hawaii is the only state in the union to even grow coffee?

“Have you ever heard of Alabama coffee? Or Iowa coffee?” the other gal gently teases.  

With the exception of a few new experimental groves in Southern California, it makes sense that Hawaii is the only US state to grow coffee commercially: It is the only one situated in the tropics with the appropriate climate, elevation and soil to grow the beans properly. You learn that coffee has been part of Hawaiian culture since the early 1800’s when the first trees were brought over from Brazil on (of all things) a British warship. Imagine being the caretakers of that precious cargo. Today, every island in the Hawaiian chain has coffee plantations that grow and sell beans. 

“Kauai has 4,000,000 coffee trees,” your hatted friend says. “That’s the equivalent of about 60 trees per resident.” 

“That’s a whole lotta trees,” you say.

“That’s a whole lotta latte,” your spouse muses dreamily, and slurps on. . .

Your favorite finds on the South Shore coffee scene:

Aloha Roastery5356 Koloa Road near the Koloa History Center

The Eden Coffee truck3477 Weliweli Road also in Koloa — next to Koloa Zipline.

Koloa Mill Ice Cream and Coffee: 5424 Koloa Road in Old Koloa Town

Little Fish Coffee: 2294 Poipu Road next to the Poipu Beach Athletic Club 

Lappert’s Hawaii: Found in the Shops at Kukui‘ula at 2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka Street in Koloa. 

Anuenue Cafe: In the Poipu Shopping Village at 2360 Kiahuna Plantation Drive

Kauai Coffee Estate:  No coffee lover’s trip to the Garden Isle is complete without a visit to 3,100-acre Kauai Coffee Estate where they offer free guided tours, free coffee tasting and will ship their beans anywhere you like. Come see the beauty of the trees up close and personal. 

Book your stay at Koloa Landing Resort today and embark on a South Shore coffee odyssey all your own. In fact, enjoy a steaming mug of fresh-brewed java at our poolside HoloHolo Grill while you create your hit list . . .  Cheers!

— Erica Karlin, Koloa Landing Resort