Kailua Town is located on the island of Oahu’s Windward (eastern) side. Although it’s on the opposite coast, just 12 miles separate it from the capital city of Honolulu. Once a sleepy beach town, Kailua has become a favorite place to shop, eat, and catch a wave among travelers and locals alike. Despite its popularity, Kailua has managed to keep its authenticity and local feel- and this is thanks to its many locally owned eateries and coffee shops. In fact, the phrase “Keep Kailua local” is one you’ll hear or see often when visiting.
There are only three places in the United States that grow coffee beans: Puerto Rico, Santa Barbara County in California, and in Kona on the Big Island in Hawaii. Kona is an ideal area to grow coffee beans due to its young volcanic soil is rich in minerals and the area experiences frequent afternoon rain showers. Coffee is a part of the Hawaiian culture and economy. If you venture up to Kailua Town while visiting O’ahu, these are the 5 best coffee shops to grab a cup of Joe.
Side note: Many local eateries and coffee shops in Kailua Town are either closed on Mondays or offer limited weekday hours. It’s a good idea to check a coffee shop’s hours online when planning your trip to Kailua.
ChadLou’s Coffee Roasters
Latte lovers, this one’s for you. ChadLou’s Coffee is a local and independent coffee company that serves high-quality, farm to cup coffee. And when I say high-quality, I mean it. This coffee is seriously good. Chad Lou’s coffee shop only offers outdoor seating, but each table has an umbrella that offers refuge from the sun. Besides, who wants to spend their entire day indoors when traveling to Hawaii? While you can’t go wrong ordering anything from ChadLou’s menu, their lattes are definitely worth a try. There’s the Kula Latte (latte with lavender and vanilla), the Mānoa Chocolate Mocha latte (Mānoa Chocolate combined with ChadLou’s local espresso), and the Honu latte (latte with caramel and Macadamia nut flavored sweetener).
Owners Matt & Sheila Rosete grew up in Kailua and have experience growing, roasting, and brewing coffee. And this love for coffee shows when you walk thru their door.
Founded and owned by local high school sweethearts Debbie and Pete, Morning Brew is a local cafe and proud of it. With its large windows, high ceilings, bright lighting, and locally featured art scattered across the walls, just walking into this cafe puts you into a calmer mood. Local tip: Bookends, Kailua’s only locally owned and independent bookstore, is conveniently located a few doors down. You can pick out a summer read from Bookends, head over to Morning Brew, and spend a few hours reading while enjoying one of the cafe’s specialty drinks. Everything on the menu is good, but their espresso iced blended shakes and white mocha lattes are some of the more unique choices.
In a rush? Want to grab a drink before heading to the beach? At Solar Shack, you don’t even have to get out of your car (unless of course you want to). This drive-thru food and coffee truck offers a menu full of organic coffee, burritos, and pastries. In fact, everything on the menu is organic, and it’s a great stop for alternative diets. In addition, the Solar Shack has a truly authentic feel to it. It’s common to see the same regulars (and their dogs) spending each morning basking in the sun and enjoying their coffee. Solar Shack is also conventionally located near a bunch of local boutiques if you’re in the mood for a little shopping after. Their nitro cold brew coffees and matcha lattes are some of the best options on the menu.
Egghead Cafe & Espresso Bar
Egghead Cafe & Espresso Bar is a cute, local option for a coffee date. It’s a great place to meet friends for coffee and a quick bite, as it’s conveniently located near a bunch of boutique and vintage stores as well as the Farmer’s Market that takes place every Sunday. In addition to coffee, it serves small bites such as salads, sandwiches, and a variety of what they call Moffles (mochi waffles). Their Iced Vietnamese coffee and Iced Raspberry Mocha are definitely worth a try as well. The location in Honolulu serves a larger menu of larger breakfast items.
The Collective Tattoo Cafe Gallery
Have you ever been in the mood to savor a coffee while getting a tattoo? Well, then the Collective is the perfect place for you. The Collective is a tattoo parlor and cafe all in one. It’s a welcoming space that truly inspires creativity and community, and their calendar is loaded with events featuring local artists. If you have the time, on any weekend you can grab a coffee, sit down at one of their sidewalk tables, and enjoy live music from a local band. The cafe is run by Li’ili’i Donuts and Café, which specializes in gluten free and vegan donuts.
When it comes to local eateries and coffee on O’ahu, Kailua Town really does it best. And while it’s a great town to visit, please remember that Kailua is not just a tourist destination but a permanent home to many. Support local by going to local businesses and eateries rather than chains. And as always, be mindful of locals and their homes and Mālama ka ‘aina, which means respect the land.