Coffee-Lovers Guide to the Best Coffee Shops on the Big Island

Whether we’re on our way to work, or on vacation in paradise, one thing remains true for many of us: we need our coffee fix. Luckily, Hawaii’s Big Island is a bit of a mecca for high-quality coffee. Home of the world-renowned Kona coffee bean, there is an abundance of unique coffee shops serving up delicious drinks sprinkled across the island.

This round-up features 14 of our favorites, in no particular order. While they differ in style, location, and menu, each of these cafes has one thing in common… tasty coffee treats that will have you running back for more.

HiCO Hawaiian Coffee

Toast and Coffee at HICO Hawaiian Coffee

Located in Kailua-Kona on Hawaii’s West Coast, HiCO Hawaiian Coffee serves specialty coffees, cocktails, breakfast, and a variety of vegan options. In addition to coffeeshop standards like lattes and nitro cold brews, they offer decidedly Hawaiian options, like an ube sweet cream cold brew, and a Maui lavender latte.

Plus, all their coffee drinks are made from 100% Hawaiian-grown beans. In addition, the owners are committed to giving back to ocean cleaning and conservation efforts through donations, hosting events, and fundraising.

Kona Coffee and Tea

This place brings “local” to the next level. Their coffee is grown on their single-estate farm, and then small-batch roasted right in Kona, meaning the coffee beans never leave a 10-mile radius of the shop.

Kona Coffee and Tea on Palani Road in Kailua-Kona offers up chill, tropical vibes alongside traditional coffee drinks like lattes, flat whites, cold brews, cortados, and cappuccinos. They also serve an assortment of exotic teas like mamaki mint, coffee cherry, and matcha and chai tea lattes. A rotating deli menu and selection of beer, wine, hard ciders, and seltzers round out the menu.

Kaya’s Kawanui

In a veritable sea of coffee shop choices on the Big Island, Kaya’s 100% organic menu sets them apart. This kid- and dog-friendly café in the West Coast village of Kealakekua serves up espresso, a variety of coffee drinks, 30 varieties of tea, and a selection of kombucha on tap. Our personal favorites were the decadent lavender cardamom mocha and black flower chai.

Their food menu includes lots of options for vegetarians, vegans, and those following a gluten-free diet. In addition, they offer an assortment of locally sourced art, jewelry, clothing, and other gifts and trinkets.

Kona Joe Coffee

Want to see your coffee creations come to life before your very eyes? Just jet on down the Mamalahoa Highway to Kona Joe Coffee for far more than a simple cup of coffee.

By taking their tour, you’ll get to see just why their beans are the best of the best by exploring their trellis-style coffee plantation. Then, sign up for a trip through the roasting room to see how they turn their fresh beans into brewable delights.

After that, you can kick back and sample all their latest creations – or order up your favorite drink made with their house-grown and roasted beans. Either way, you’ll want to take your time to fully savor all the flavors before you.

Heavenly Hawaiian Kona Coffee Farm

Not only is our next choice a coffee shop, but it’s also a fully functioning coffee farm offering daily tours and tastings. If you want to learn where your coffee comes from and see how it’s made, this is a must-see destination, Heavenly Hawaiian Kona Coffee Farm is conveniently located in the West Coast town of Holualoa.

Konalani is their on-site specialty coffee bar, situated right on the farm. In addition, to pour-overs and cold brews featuring a variety of native coffee bean varieties, they also offer a diverse selection of iced and hot tea drinks including raspberry or spiced matcha, and a London fog. A rotating seasonal menu of Italian sodas will keep the keiki happy, too!

Waimea Coffee Company

With locations in Waimea and Hawi, this crew has been serving up award-winning coffee and food for 25 years. The rustic, relaxing Waimea Coffee Company environment and friendly staff serve up a full menu of breakfasts, lunches, smoothies, and acai bowls daily. Trust us when we tell you that the food, ranging from a lox bagel to a breakfast salad, to mango and super greens acai bowl is worth a visit even if you aren’t a coffee fan.

That said, coffee aficionados and casual drinkers alike will find something that meets their caffeine needs here. While their coffee offerings are relatively straightforward, including familiar favorites like macchiatos, cappuccinos, pour overs, and cold brews, the quality of the coffee elevates them all to the next level.

Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation

This functioning coffee farm is located 3,200 feet above sea level, near Kailua-Kona, on the slopes of the Hualalai Volcano. The unique climate and rich soil contribute to the uniqueness and quality of the world-famous Kona coffee beans grown here.

While not a traditional coffee shop, the Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation does offer guided tours and free tastings of their different bean varieties, as well as an assortment of baked goods and snacks. This is a great place to take in breathtaking views and learn about the Hawaiian coffee trade while getting a firsthand taste of their delicious products.

Hilo Coffee Mill

At the Hilo Coffee Mill, they love to treat everyone to an educational journey through the world of coffee. Their seasoned employees proudly take their visitors on guided tours across their coffee and tea fields, drying house, and roasting room. Once you make it to their retail area, you’ll get an inside look at how they brew up your favorite drinks as well.

After that, it’s time to sample all their most popular roasts, and then get whatever else you’d like from the Latte da Bar. Their fresh brewed coffee is the name of the game, of course, but they also have all the breakfast and lunch items you could want.

Green Flash Coffee

This small, family-owned, and operated outpost is centrally located on Alii Drive adjacent to Kailua Kona Village. In addition to classic coffee drinks, Green Flash Coffee offers some uniquely decadent concoctions.

For those with a sweet tooth, we recommend the gianduja mocha, which blends chocolate, hazelnut, espresso, and milk to create an unforgettable drink that’s good at any time of day.  The Mauna Kea mocha puts a new spin on a mocha drink, combining white chocolate, macadamia nut, espresso, and frothed milk. And for those looking for a caffeine boost of seismic proportions, there’s the Earthquake. This high-octane offering consists of 4 shots of espresso, chocolate, and a splash of milk. That’s enough to ward off even the most intense jet lag!

Tea:licious Café

Tea lovers, this one is for you! Located in Kona, this hidden gem serves up freshly baked pastries, quick bites, and a variety of local and international loose-leaf teas. Additionally, Tea:licious Cafe offers a takeout picnic box for two, which includes freshly baked bread and an assortment of charcuterie offerings. It’s a perfect grab-and-go for a day at the beach!

Their teas range from English breakfast to Moroccan mint to mamakai lemon. An offering of tea lattes offers lush drinks that will warm you from the inside out. For those looking for something special, look to their specialty tea drinks like coconut chai, matcha limeade, and a tea-based (alcohol-free) mojito. And don’t worry, coffee lovers, there’s a full coffee menu available for your enjoyment, as well.

Kona Coffee Café

Located in the center of Kailua-Kona, Kona Coffee Cafe offers sweeping ocean views which complement its robust slate of offerings. The café specializes in an assortment of drinks, all made with pure Kona coffee. The large menu includes brewed coffee, espresso drinks, smoothies, sodas, and more.

The café is also known for its Macadamia Nut Pies, which are available in three sizes and six flavors. While you’re there, try the “donkey balls,” which are coffee beans covered in dark and white chocolate.

Hilo Sharks Coffee

Photo Credit by @hilosharkscoffee on Instagram

At Hilo Sharks Coffee, freshly-grown Hawaiian coffee, vanilla, and cacao come together beautifully. For over 24 years, Farmer Tom has focused on cultivating these three iconic island delights, allowing his team to create the best cups of coffee around.

It’s always wise to start your journey with a tour of the plantation to explore the growing and harvesting process in full. If that’s not quite enough time on the plantation, however, you’re welcome to stay through the weekend at their Zen Treehouse Retreat.

Their actual coffee shops are all now permanently closed, although that could change in the future. For now, you can buy their fresh-roasted beans and brew your own creations in your hotel room.

Papaaloa Joe Coffee

backlava stacked in case

Whenever your travels land you in Honokaa, plan to make a stop at Papa’aloa Joe Coffee. At this quaint coffee shop, they only use 100% Hamakua coffee beans in all their creations. On top of that, they use proven brewing practices to take their roasts to the next level always.

As if that’s not enough, their amazing farm flavors elevate the freshly-brewed shots of espresso even more. Whether you order a latte, cappuccino, or something altogether different, you can get it hit with a dose of cloves, honey, ginger, turmeric, hibiscus, calamansi, lavender, or vanilla.

Kona Mountain Coffee

While this small-but-mighty shop may not have quite as extensive a menu as some of our other selections, they make up for what they lack in variety with their quality. Ordering is easy here: guests can choose from a coffee, cold brew, latte, cappuccino, mocha, or frappe. They can then customize their order with their choice of milk, and a variety of flavors ranging from vanilla to hazelnut to toffee.

Additionally, Kona Mountain Coffee offers tea selections including chai, matcha, and brewed teas. Pair your selection with any of a number of baked goods sourced from local bakeries to complete your tasty treat. And vegans, rejoice! The café also offers a selection of vegan sweets on a rotating basis.

Whether you’re looking for exotic treats or traditional coffee beverages, these 14 coffee shops on the Big Island will leave you feeling satisfied, caffeinated, and ready to take on all Hawaii has to offer. Enjoy your coffee adventures and let us know what items were your favorites!