The South Side Coffee Connection

(from left) Micah Fernandez, Jesse White, Tzeitel Roney, Barbara Anderson and Jerri-Lynn Walters

Did you know that Hawai’i’s first commercial coffee plantation was established on Kaua’i in 1836? Did you know that there are more than 22,000 acres in Kaua’i dedicated to growing coffee? The Kalaheo Café & Coffee Company does.

Just 10 minutes south of Poipu, makai side of Kaumualii Highway (50), The Kalaheo Café & Coffee Company – open since 1994 – specializes in roasting and selling fine coffees produced on Kaua’i, her neighboring islands and specialty coffees from around the world.

Owners Kris and John Ferguson are committed to providing high-quality coffee backed by ethics. “No Kona blends,” says John, referring to the dishonest practice of adding 10 percent Kona coffee to inferior beans and calling it Kona coffee. “We sell 100 percent extra fancy and peaberry,” the two finest grades available.

But, it’s not all about the coffee at Kalaheo Café.

“We love coffee and wanted to combine it with good food, like they do in Europe,” says John, executive chef and veteran of the restaurant industry.

Spinach and Kalaheo greens with strawberries, walnuts. Dan Lane photos

The café has a hip, Euro vibe to it. Inside, fans whirl from a high ceiling and make quick work of air circulation. Warm colors such as burnt sienna and milk chocolate mirror house-baked goods and specialty coffee drinks. Sparkling glass counters are filled with fresh-made apple pie, carrot cake and the popular coconut custard cake.

“Our coconut custard cakes sell out quickly,” says assistant manager Barbara Anderson, a 27-year resident of Kaua’i. “They are so good, we’ve had people ask if they can take them back to Oahu.”

Cinnamon knuckles sell out by 9 a.m., brownies and biscotti by 11. Patrons line up for Morning Madness, 4 shots of espresso and steamed half-and-half or fresh fruit smoothies made with yogurt. On the lanai, customers enjoy a very veggie omelet with house-baked bread for breakfast or an Angus chuck burger with cilantro garlic fries for lunch.

The café recently reopened for dinner, and the menu puts on a little black bistro dress. Featuring up-scale and healthy options such as the Quinoa and Spring Veggie Bowl ($12.95) and Baked House Made Turkey Meat Loaf ($16.95), there is something for everyone. Weekly specials such as the Slow-Roasted Prime Rib of Beef ($24.95) add seasonal variety into the regular rotation.

Mahimahi with pesto aioli

“It’s a great little community place to get good food,” says diner Donna Mayo, who was here celebrating her birthday with husband Steve. “Sometimes we’ve worked really long days, so we draw straws to see who is going to get to shower first and who is going to go get the food!”

There are a number of unique and scrumptious salads on the lunch and dinner menus. A juicy favorite is the Romaine Wedge ($9.95), topped with Gorgonzola dressing and apple-smoked bacon.

The Grilled Fresh Island Catch ($18.95), may be the best prepared fish I’ve had on Kaua’i. Sitting on a bed of Israeli couscous tossed in pesto, the fresh Mahi is generously seasoned on one side and sautéed. The result is a succulent bite – moist, tender and tasting of the sea. Beautiful!

A very berry cobbler. Dan Lane photos

“When I cook, I try to keep in mind that somebody is going to put this into their body, therefore I create with intention,” says head chef Tzeitel Roney. “I like to make people happy through food and to me, creating food is a form of art.”

Kalaheo Café & Coffee Company
2-2560 Kaumualii Hwy, Kalaheo
332-5858 Monday – Saturday 6:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Sunday 6:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., breakfast available all day
Dinner Tuesday – Saturday 5 – 8:30 p.m.