As a coffee enthusiast, I have always been fascinated by the unique flavors and qualities of coffee from different regions around the world. After gaining more experience in roasting and experimenting with various brewing methods, including hand drip, cold brew, and espresso, my appreciation for coffee has grown, and I was eager to revisit the coffee from my home state of Hawaii with a fresh perspective and a more refined palate.
My search for a quality coffee experience in Hawaii led me to Hawaiian Fresh Roast Coffee, a café that offers a variety of beans from different islands all in one place. Rather than indulging in the sweet and creamy coffee drinks that the café also offers, I opted to try a hand-drop coffee with coffee grown in Ka’u, a lesser-known region compared to the world-famous Kona.
Although the beans from Ka’u are not as widely recognized as those from Kona, they are grown at a moderate altitude in a lush, green area and exhibit a similar taste and profile to a stereotypical hybrid Colombian and Brazilian farm. In fact, Starbucks Reserve often sources some of their coffee from the Ka’u region. Interestingly, back in the 70s and 80s, Ka’u coffee was often sold to neighboring Kona roasters and sold as “Kona Coffee.”
I ordered a v60 pour-over to try the Ka’u coffee, and I must say that I was impressed by the nutty flavor and pleasant sweetness. Although the coffee did not exhibit a lot of origin characteristics due to the city plus roast, it was still an enjoyable cup of coffee with a smooth, roasted flavor profile.
Although you can purchase roasted beans from this shop, I strongly recommend against buying green beans from Hawaiian Fresh Roast Coffee, as they charge the same price for green beans as they do for roasted beans; which needless to say is utterly ridiculous.
While Hawaiian Fresh Roast Coffee offers a decent cup of coffee and a variety of beans to choose from, the ambiance of the old Dole Cannery building where the café is located felt somewhat abandoned and uninviting. Although there are many places to sit in the building, it’s not the best place for a relaxing coffee experience. For those in the Iwilei area looking for a specialty cup of coffee, Hawaiian Fresh Roast Coffee is an option, but it’s more on the commercial side of cafes than a specialty café. Therefore, I would say it’s worth a visit if you’re in the area, but I wouldn’t recommend making a special trip just for this café.