I love a good cup of coffee. Some would say I’m addicted, and they would be right. What can I say? With a mug of coffee by my side I feel like I can accomplish a lot.
There’s just something about sitting down at a coffee shop with my laptop that makes me seriously productive. I think it has to do with all the years I spent holed up in various cafes working on homework or studying. It’s like my brain automatically flips into “get it done!” mode.
I’m not a coffee connoisseur nor have I ever been a barista, but I do feel like I have a pretty good handle on whether or not a particular cup of coffee is worth my time. After 4 years of living in Hawaii, I can confidently say that I’ve visited an impressive number of cafes around the island. And while I still don’t think I could pick one favorite, here are my top 5 spots to fuel up, relax, or get productive with a cup of coffee on Oahu.
Morning Glass Coffee & Cafe
Tucked away in beautiful Manoa Valley, this tiny cafe has a trendy vibe, friendly staff, and an open-air atmosphere. They brew Stumptown Coffee which makes this PNW girl HAPPY! If the Morning Glass lot is full, avoid parking down the street at Safeway - they really like to tow people who do that.
What to order at Morning Glass:
A “for here” latte with a hint of vanilla. While you’re at it, you should probably come here for breakfast (weekends only) and order the Laura Chanel Skillet and the Mac and Cheese Pancakes. Swoooooon.
It’s tiny, there’s not much seating, and parking can be tough, but if you’re looking for a place to recommend to your coffee purist friends, this is it. The Curb started out as a small, blue coffee truck and has graduated into a couple brick and mortar locations. This little shop is definitely worth your time.
What to order at The Curb
A pour over. If you like your coffee black, this is the place to try it.
If you get caught in a rainstorm while you're visiting the north shore or just want to relax with a book for a bit, this is the place to go. Coffee Gallery has a wonderfully north shore vibe and features a large covered patio with lots of seating.
What to order at Coffee Gallery
Cappuccino or iced latte. The Morning Muffins are really yummy as well.
The best part about Island Brew is its location. Situated right next to the Hawaii Kai marina, it gets a nice breeze and has great outdoor seating. It's the perfect place to come after a hike (Koko Head, anyone?). Cool off with an iced drink while watching tourists speed around behind a boat on those banana shaped innertubes.
What to order at Island Brew
Your favorite drink. For instance, 3 shots over ice with 2 pumps of white mocha.
Honolulu Coffee Co
The last spot on my list of favorite coffee spots is a toss up between Kalapawai Café and Honolulu Coffee Company. Kalapawai Café is one of our weekend staples, but that’s more so because we love the food, cookies (salted caramel chocolate chip!), location, and chai lattes. Their coffee is fine, but not quite top 5. So Honolulu Coffee Company it is!
I know it’s a hot tourist trap, but there's no denying that HCC has amazing coffee. Just be prepared to spend $4+ on a 8oz coffee. My favorite location is the shop right off the Moana Surfrider hotel. And if you're feeling touristy, the company recently opened a "Coffee Experience Center" which is kind of interesting.
What to order at Honolulu Coffee Company
Nutty Hawaiian Latte (careful, it’s sweet)