Café Crawl: Honolulu, Hawaii

Olive & OIiver’s. Photo by Psalms Thirty Four

Located within spitting distance of the U.S.’s most well-renowned and largest-producing coffee origin, Honolulu’s cafés have a unique edge in that they can easily source Kona or other Hawaii-harvested beans.

Whether it’s a café within a glam Waikiki Beach resort or a casual locals’ spot in Diamond Head, the focus isn’t just on coffee. Decadent pastries and drinks folding in tropical ingredients, immersive programs for home brewers, and art galleries are all part of the cafés’ programming. Riffing off of the city’s Asian influences, with a nod to its Tiki-inspired mid-century past, a visit to one of these cafés aims to be immersed in Honolulu’s culture.

From Olive & Oliver’s hipster café inside a popular hotel to an Aussie import’s Hawaii locale, here’s where to go for not only a great cup of coffee—or maybe a flat white—but also some design, travel, and art inspiration next time you’re in Honolulu.


Olive & Oliver

412 Lewers Street
808-921-2233
oliveandoliverhawaii.com
Open daily 6 a.m.–7:30 p.m.

Tucked into an eclectic surf-wear store in Waikiki Beach’s ‘60s-inspired Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club is Olive & Oliver. Pineapple- and monstera-patterned to-go cups and a petal-pink La Marzocco espresso machine are popular Instagram shots. Located just off the hotel lobby, the café’s menu features classic drinks like lattes, as well as matcha and add-ins such as lavender and macadamia nut. That the pool is literally steps away also means cold-brew coffee is a popular order.

Photo by Psalms Thirty Four
Photo by Leah Flores

ARS Cafe

3116 Monsarrat Avenue
808-734-7897
ars-cafe.com
Monday–Saturday, 6:30 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.–6 p.m.

Ars Café at Diamond Head is a stroll back into the 1970s, with dangling greenery, wood paneling, and vinyl on constant play. Coffee that’s brewed falls into two camps: “local roast” (Kona or Maui) and “world coffee” (Kenya or Ethiopia). In addition to coffee, espresso drinks, and tea (including Royal Milk Tea), the handwritten menu features house-made gelato, sandwiches, and salads, plus four signature toasts (from avocado to chicken) and locally inspired pastries (like the avocado bread). Monthly art shows cater to Honolulu’s inspiring arts scene.

Photos: @ars.cafe


The Hideout

2299 Kuhio Avenue
808-628-3060
hideoutwaikiki.com
Open daily 7 a.m.–2 p.m., 5 p.m.–10 p.m.

The Hideout, a rooftop bar and café that embraces mid-century modern design, is located in The Laylow, a Marriott Autograph Collection property, on Waikiki Beach. Stumptown Coffee Roasters beans are crafted into coffee and espresso drinks, while more-than-muffins breakfast options include eggs benedict with Kauai prawns. Bright décor includes patterned floor tile, orange and white metal chairs on the sunny patio, and plenty of greenery.

Photos courtesy of The Hideout


Bills Hawaii

280 Beachwalk Avenue
808-922-1500
billshawaii.com
Open daily 7 a.m.–9 p.m.

An offshoot of this Aussie restaurant brand, Bills Hawaii, owned by cookbook author Bill Granger, occupies a second-story perch in Waikiki Beach, surrounded by retail, which makes it a nice oasis. The space, which opened in 2014, is decorated with knotty pine vertical slats of wood, cane back chairs, and seafoam-green paint trim. Bills Hawaii offers all-day dining options and coffee harvested from the Big Island’s Ka’u region. Flat whites, naturally, are on the beverage menu, as are frappes, homemade sodas, and fresh-squeezed juices.

Photos: @billshawaii


Kona Coffee Purveyors

2330 Kalakaua Avenue
808-450-2364
konacoffeepurveyors.com
Open daily 6 a.m.–10 p.m.

As the name suggests, this café in Waikiki Beach—open since 2016 on the street level of International Marketplace, with outdoor seating, marble countertops, pretty blue mugs, and funky floor tiles—brews Kona-grown beans. Co-owner Raymond Suiter, who sold Honolulu Coffee Company in 2008, roasts them at Kona Coffee Purveyors’ roastery. The café is also a haven for pastry fiends given that the goods—from kouign-amann (a Breton cake with flaky, buttery qualities) to French canelés and Kona coffee tarts are from James Beard Award-winning b. Patisserie, out of San Francisco, with Belinda Leong at the helm.

Photos courtesy of Kona Coffee Purveyors


Kai Coffee Hawaii

Downtown
207 S. King Street
808-537-3415
Monday–Friday, 6 a.m.–4 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.–12 p.m.
Hyatt Regency Waikiki
2424 Kalakaua Avenue
808-923-1700
Open daily 5:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m.
kaicoffeehawaii.com

This family-run roaster owned by Natalie and Sam Suiter straddles café locations in downtown Honolulu on King Street and the resort area of Waikiki Beach (inside Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa), with a third location opened this past spring inside the Alohilani Resort. In Hawaiian, Kai translates to “sea” or “ocean;” dreamy blue walls, sky-blue coffee cups, and minimalist, modern décor drive the café’s design. Beans are sourced from Maui and Kona and roasted by Kai Coffee Hawaii. Sam Suiter got his start in the coffee world through Honolulu Coffee Co., a specialty coffee company and Kona coffee roaster with cafés in not only Hawaii but also Canada, Guam, and Japan, as its director of retail operations. Now, with his own boutique-oriented brand, he’s able to truly shape its success.

Photos: @kaicoffeehawaii


Island Vintage Coffee

Royal Hawaiian Center
2301 Kalakaua Avenue
808-926-5662
Open daily 6 a.m.–11 p.m.
Ala Moana Center
1450 Ala Moana Boulevard
808-941-9300
Monday–Saturday, 8 a.m.–9 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.–7 p.m.
islandvintagecoffee.com

Located inside Royal Hawaiian Center, as well as Ala Moana Center, both of which are in Waikiki Beach’s busy Kalakaua Avenue, Island Vintage also has locations on Maui, other areas of Oahu, and throughout Japan. Having a café on Kalakaua Avenue, which is heavily foot-trafficked, means catering to wandering travelers and ensuring that Kona coffee is always brewing (cue enticing aromas). The menu skews beyond coffee, featuring island favorites like poke bowls, sandwiches with Kalua pork or Kauai shrimp, and acai bowls for breakfast. One of Honolulu’s oldest coffee roasters, Island Vintage Coffee has been roasting Kona beans since 1996.

Photos courtesy of Island Vintage Coffee