Category Archives: Coffee

Hawaiian Hole in the Wall Meal #4: The Coffee Shack

Kona Coast cafe known for its baked goods and excellent views

Every Hawaiian town, whether on the coast or inland, has a cafe. Some rely on locals and passing tourists needing or wanting a cup of local coffee and something to eat. Others have become destinations, “discovered” by guidebook author after guidebook author and passed on, by word of mouth, from visitor to visitor. We read about The Coffee Shack just south of Captain Cook and also heard about it from our friends, Glenn and Margaret, who went there several years ago. It has become so popular that we ended up parking at a pullout a few hundred yards down the road.

The Coffee Shack isn’t a hole in the wall but a perch on a steep mountainside in coffee country. Generically, a “coffee shack” is a utility and storage building on a coffee plantation — often right along a roadway. Some our now abandoned. Others have become dwellings, art galleries or shops. This one is an eating destination.
The most desirable tables are on the covered lanai, which on the mainland would be called a patio (below), but they were all occupied when we arrived during lunchtime.
We took a window table in the small, spare back dining room with its view down to Kealakekua Bay, more than a thousand feet below.

Adorable resident geckos cruised in and out of the open window, dipping into the jelly, molasses, honey or whatever had been set out for them. And no, they weren’t selling insurance.

The Coffee Shack’s house-baked breads are renowned on the Big Island’s Kona Coast. My husband ordered a Reuben on toasted French bread (not a baguette, but The Coffee Shack’s version that is baked in a regular American loaf shape). No snide remarks about the resemblance between the accompanying kosher pickle spear and a gecko, please.

I had the super-fresh vegetarian sandwich with avocado, sliced cheese, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, red onion and Dijon mustard piled high between two thick slices of whole-grain bread. It usually comes with mayo too, but I wasn’t in the mood for anything other than the cheese that contained fat.

Price check: Breakfast entrees, $8.95-$11.95; breakfast pastries, $3.50-$4.50; sandwiches, $9.95; 8-inch pizzas, $8.95-$12.95; entree-size salads, $10.95-$13.95; soups, $3.95 for a cup and $6.50 for a bowl; house-made desserts, $5.50; coffee drinks, $3.50-$5.00. (Disclaimer: I didn’t grab a take-out menu but took the prices from The Coffee Shack’s website, which is copyrighted 2001, so these might be out of date and low when you go.)

The Coffee Shack is at 83-5799 Mamalahoa Highway (Route 11), Captain Cook; 808-328-9555.

Use Coupons for Holiday Savings

A few bucks saved here and there really add up

In good times and less good times alike, I’m a big fan of coupons, because I find that those after-tax dollar savings really add up. And in this tight. tough season that still involves eating, cooking, entertaining and gift-giving, coupons carry extra value. You’ll find food and restaurant coupons in local daily and weekly newspapers, but if you are a foodie in or around Boulder, keep an eye out for The Village Shopping Center’s multi-merchant coupon book. It’s a little bigger than a checkbook and has Happy Holidays – Check It Out – Guaranteed Savings Inside emblazoned on the cover in red.

There are coupons for McGuckin Hardware, which has a dynamite housewares department; Le Peep, a casual restaurant at the east side of McGuckin’s; the Pottery Cafe, an espresso place combined with paint-your-own pottery (great for kids’ gift projects); the Brewing Market which does great espresso but without the pottery angle, and Tokyo Joe’s, which serves fast, healthy Asian-inspired dishes. Of course, I wish that there were also coupons for Alba Ristorante, one of Boulder’s best Italian eateries; Ellie’s Eco-Home Store, which you’ve got to visit for clear-conscious holiday entertaining; Great Harvest Bread Company; Sunflower Farmers Market for well-priced natural and organic foods, and Zolo Grill, where a Zolorita can take the edge of holiday stress.

The Village, which most people identify with McGuckin’s, is on the east side of Folsom between Canyon and Arapahoe.

Starbucks to Close 600 Stores

Seattle chain that launched the designer coffee craze is downsizing

I have often said, wryly, that job growth in the 21st century has been in WalMart greeters, Transportation Security Agency screeners and baristas. The first two still seem to be corking along, but the latter might be in for a downturn, at least as far as Starbucks is concerned. The brand that launched the upscale coffee craze and adjusted the English language as it relates to relative sizes (in Starbuckian, Tall = small, Grande = medium, Venti = large) is about to pull back from recent years of astronomical expansion.

Starbucks’ growth has been phenomenal. Founded in 1971, it expanded slowly and then rapidly — very rapidly. Retail coffee stores in urban centers, suburban malls, airports and within Safeway supermarkets. Company-owned stores. Franchises. Packaged coffee sold in supermarkets. Bottled coffee drinks sold in supermarkets and convenience stores. Hotels, hospitals, college campuses and office coffee service. Starbucks served on United Airlines flights. Expansion into the tea market with the Tazo brand.

It seemed that noplace was immune from the Starbucks invasion. In Vancouver, I saw two Starbucks kitty-cornered across from each other at a major interesction. A famous cartoon, in The New Yorker, showed a Starbucks within a Starbucks. The company even parodied itself with New Yorker-cartoon-style ads that it placed in the magazine (right).

The Starbucks road recently became rocky, and the world’s largest coffee chain, with 16,000 outlets worldwide, announced that it will close 600 of its nearly 7,000 US company-operated stores. Of those, most have been open for less than three years, suggesting that uncontrolled growth is a factor, along with a limping US economy that foreces many people to decide between a fancy coffee and a gallon of gas.

Just last year, Starbucks was named by Fortune magazine as one of the country’s 100 best companies to work for, but when the downsizing is completed, 12,000 fewer people will be working there. Certainly, I hope that local independent coffee houses will fill some of the Starbucks void, though I’m not entirely sure whether the Starbucks outlets installed in Safeway supermarkets will be missed if they close.

Jobs will be lost. More storefronts will post “For Lease” signs. But the planet may benefit for a bit of a bonus in the green realm. Starbucks takes pride in its social and global responsbility, but I have been underwhelmed by its domestic environmental policies. Whether customers are ordering coffee “for here” or “to go,” it comes in a plastic (cold) or paper (hot) cup. Sixteen thousand stores worldwide accounts for a lot of trash in the landfills — and soon there will be 600 fewer.