If you find yourselves in Honolulu, Hawaii, then you should visit Beach Bum Cafe at 1088 Bishop Street. It's downtown, so parking can be a giant PITA especially on weekdays. Try to find street parking because it's cheaper (about $1.50/hour) than the lots. I parked near Iolani Palace on Richards Street, or across the street at the post office lot.
Anyway, the espresso is good, but the stars of the cafe are its drip brew coffees made from single-origin Hawaiian-grown coffees from Isla Coffee and roasted by Rusty's Hawaiian Coffee. Isla is a high-end green coffee distributor with lots of interesting coffees. You can see some of their coffees roasted by various roasters score in the low to mid 90s on Coffee Review. These coffees are not cheap ($4+ for 8 oz cup of drip brew, $24-$33 for a half pound of beans), but they are worth it compared to the other expensive coffees you find in 3rd wave shops like Intelligentsia and Blue Bottle, because they are unique and not easily available elsewhere.
If you are on a budget, they do have cheaper coffees grown on larger farms elsewhere in Hawaii that are still tasty. They have a map of the coffee growing regions in Hawaii, and I didn't realize that almost every island grows coffee. They use a cloth filter pourover in a woodneck, which is not my favorite form of preparation as it tends to mask some of the flavors of the coffee, but it's still a very good cup of coffee.
The owner is a fan of natural or dry processing, so that's a big plus in my book already, and the staff is friendly and easy-going, like how most people who live in Hawaii are. No pretentious hipsters work here --- the staff looks like they're about to go surfing or just came from the beach. I would guess most of their customers are the business people who work downtown who just want to get in and out with their morning cup of coffee.
I had 3 different ones this week, and enjoyed them all. The first day was the Maui-grown dry process mokka peaberry I mentioned a few posts ago. It tasted like a mokka, but without the chocolatey flavors that characterizes the bean. I'm not sure that the brew got the most out of it. The 2nd day was a Yellow Caturra from Ka'u (a growing region in Kona) done in a Kenya-style raisin milling method. This was more enjoyable and a bit sweeter than the mokka, but still a little anonymous. The 3rd day I had Ka'u grown maragogype done in a dry process, and this was the best one yet: lots of interesting character, but balanced without one note sticking out, and I managed to get the last half pound they had for this season. I brewed it this morning at home in my Clever, and this is a really amazing coffee: heavy body, good sweetness, ripe peach flavors, subtle acidity. Maragogype has gigantic beans --- it's almost comically large. They also have a version of this bean that's done in the honey natural process --- these people are true coffee geeks.
If you're in the area, check them out. Selling only Hawaiian-grown coffee, including some of the best available and processed in fairly unique ways, is a unique concept for a coffee shop, and one that justifies the kind of prices 3rd wave coffee places charge. Things cost more because they are selling you a unique coffee, not some inefficient, crazy Rube Goldbergesque way of extracting coffee (eg. Blue Bottle).
Edited by A Y - 5/17/13 at 7:34pm