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Lava Java

Gourmet coffee served with a smile.

October 8, 2009
Trisha Smith

This coffee company is serving up high-quality coffee by the cup, espresso and gourmet beans in retail bags, as well as fun gifts, apparel and décor in “an atmosphere that whispers Hawai‘i.”

Longtime Maui residents Pat and Julie Patterson took on this venture nearly two years ago (Lava Java was formerly Bad Ass Coffee), and now find themselves immersed in the aromatic world of coffee and island goods.

“I bag every bag of coffee myself,” said Pat, who refreshes the shelves twice a week. “Quite often, I find myself elbow deep in coffee.”

Article Photos

Julie and Pat Patterson run the gourmet coffee company Lava Java Roasters of Maui in Kīhei.

Now, the duo is working hard to keep their quaint shop and online store running at full-speed, and it can’t hurt their main product is caffeine-based.

 “I’ve become a pretty big coffee drinker now,” said Pat. “I’ve always loved the smell of coffee—there’s just nothing like it.”

Entering Lava Java, it would be hard to disagree, even if you don’t drink coffee, as the tantalizing aroma of fresh roasted coffee fills your senses.

“That’s the Kula Coffee,” said Pat. “We roast it right here in the store, every day.”

The Pattersons work with three Upcountry growers to get their Kula Coffee, and look to well-known grower Kimo Faulkner of Maui Grown Coffee for the others. Of the five different Maui-grown coffees Lava Java carries, four come from Kimo’s Kā‘anapali plantation.

The Kula Coffee’s “untold story” began over a decade ago, when about 250 Kona coffee starter plants found a new home on the slopes of Haleakalā, and officially became Kula Coffee.

The plants produce beautiful, deep red cherries twice a year, for about two months each crop. The Patterson family comes in to harvest the ripe ones and process the coffee (remove the bean from the cherry). They sun-dry the coffee, then roast it in their “small yet efficient” roaster. (Watch the store’s interesting and educational video on the process.)

“Coffee guru” David Gridley—president of Maui Oma Coffee Roasters—does all of the roasting about twice a week, except for the Kula Coffee.

Lava Java’s coffee is available in three roasts: American (the “Get-Up-and-Go!”), Full City (the “Middle-Of-The-Road”) and French Roast (the “Flavor Blaster”).

Lava Java’s most popular is the Full City, which is for the drinker “who enjoys the flavor of good coffee, and likes a little kick in the butt as well.”

While you’re getting “buzzed,” you might try some Gecko Balls—delicious chocolate-covered macadamia nuts made in Kona by Master Confectioner Steve Calendar. These tasty and fun treats come in a variety of flavors, including pineapple-coconut.

“The Gecko Blue Balls are popular with brides,” said Julie.

Gecko Eggs are available as well, which are chocolate-covered espresso beans.

A new obsession of many customers is a signature espresso drink called “Granita,” available in vanilla, caramel and chocolate. I recommend mixing all three for a flavor explosion.

“It’s a secret recipe,” said Julie with a smile. “It’s delicious and addicting.”

Take home a Granita powder kit, and spice it up with your favorite liqueur if you like.

Get caught up at the “baker’s rack,” with local products such as Maui Culinary Academy’s Mango Sugar—excellent in tea—as well as some specialty hot sauces.

One of the best things about Lava Java is the fact its charismatic owners are there nearly every day, engaging customers or just “talking story.”

“Pat’s like a concierge,” said Julie. “He used to sell activities, so visitors and new residents feel free to ask him anything.”

“I want folks to walk in and feel like they can get an education about coffee and more,” said Pat.

Look through the cigar collection, which includes Kaua‘i-grown “Island Prince” or a smooth, whole-leaf treat called the “Royal Hawaiian.”

Customers can get online as well with the Roadrunner, high-speed Web café.

“We want to provide goodwill and a good product,” said Pat. “We’ll bend over backwards for customers to help them find what they’re looking for.”

“If they don’t, we’ll send them to another small business,” said Julie. “Got to help each other out.”

“Come on down the street and get some real, high-quality coffee, made with love,” said Pat.

Lava Java Coffee Roasters of Maui, located at 1941 S. Kīhei Road across from Kalama Park, is open every day from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. They have “one of the sweetest deals on the island”—a “two-for-one” drink special every morning from 6 to 9 a.m. Flat rate shipping is available for all purchases.



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