Getting coffee from a seasoned Barista or coffee expert can really take your coffee experience up a notch. For appreciators of coffee like me, that makes all the difference. I won’t just settle for a cup a joe from the gas station in the morning, I seek out the coffee experience. When I discovered Big Wave Espresso, a drive through coffee shack at 333 Dairy Road, I was pleasantly surprised with some of the most exotic coffees and gourmet coffees on the island. Owner Floyd Tatum explains it like this, “I want to bring local people the full coffee experience but at a good price. All the rich flavor, a good balanced cup, with a lot of caffiene kick. And I am doing it without killing your pocketbook.”
Some people dream of opening a business and plan the process out for years before execution. For Floyd and his wife Letty it has been about six years of planning to open Big Wave Espresso. Coming from the Seattle area they know their coffee, but they are excited to grow their business here with Maui grown coffee. Floyd says, “I have tried all kinds of coffee, and some of the best coffee in the world is grown here.”
The shack itself is modest and has a tropical look adorned with bamboo and grass skirts. You can drive through or walk up for service. The menu is extensive. The first day I am there Floyd asks me if I like coffee, I said yes, he says, “try the white coffee, we are the only ones in Hawaii serving it.” Well that sounds like a challenge I can’t refuse. White coffee is brewed from a flash roasted bean for less acidity. If you look at the hot brewed liquid you would think it was a murky tea, but don’t let it fool you. This brew packs a caffiene punch. Floyd makes his white coffee with white chocolate and cream, called the White Wash, and it turns in to this amazing white chocolate delight with a caffiene zing that lasts the whole day. White coffee is supposed to be gentler on the stomach than traditional brews.
My second visit they recommend the special of the day “The Chronic,” Floyd says, “I am offering it on the menu for the first time, but this is what I make for myself everyday.” The chronic is strong and sweet, thick and very shake like. This is my second cup for the day, I could be up for hours this evening, and luckily its a Saturday and I want to watch Saturday Night Live. A Tuesday drive through visit reveals a $2.50 latte special, I buy a couple for the office.
They coffee cart is all about the beverages and light on the food. The only accompaniments right now are banana nut or apple crumb muffins. If you aren’t a coffee drinker they also serve smoothies, sorbets, and energy drinks like Monster. The Tatums are also supporting live music on Maui by throwing an all ages once a month “Rock the Lot” music night where they have a band come down and play. Last month it was Mobius project, a band with young members that cannot get gigs inside alcohol serving establishments. “Rock the Lot” also raises donations for the Maui Public Library system, an effort the Tatums are very passionate about.
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