You can’t say that we have much of a coffee culture, here on Maui. We’re bombarded by so many sugary-sweet, milk and syrup-infused substances that we can’t taste the espresso anymore. The franchise coffee-sellers give us watered down coffee, floundering in whipped cream and syrup, served to us by hipper-than-thou baristas with asymmetrical haircuts while listening to intimidating Euro-trance. Clad in a new coat of bright Caribbean blue paint, Akamai Coffee is here to save us. The denizens of Maui who have been starved for good coffee can find refuge in Akamai Coffee, truly an oasis in this java-deprived desert.
Akamai is Maui’s only drive-through coffee shop, and they’ve served the caffeine-hungry of Maui since February 2007. And if you know the transient nature of Maui’s restaurant scene, you know that this is quite a feat for a small business. Owner Kimberly Brown is not only beautiful (if you’re wondering what she looks like, just take a look-see at the logo), but fanatic about the quality of the coffee she sells. As she cheerfully notes, what most franchise coffee sellers do to the delectable bean is “like throwing a steak in the microwave.” If that’s the case, Akamai Coffee is a gourmet grill. Most of the drinks at Akamai are espresso-based, and Brown makes sure that every little step is executed perfectly so that she can consistently serve her customers high quality drinks.
Brown goes as far as to ship in a pre-roasted blend from Seattle called Caffe Del Sol, a mix of beans from Latin America, Africa and Indonesia. It has dark chocolate and praline undertones with a caramel finish. Part of what makes Akamai espresso stand out is the state of the art espresso maker Brown employs, which you’d be hard to find anywhere on-island.
Bestsellers include the frappe (served in white chocolate, chocolate and caramel) and the vanilla latte. The white chocolate frappe will change your life…or at least your coffee drinking habits. Unlike other frozen coffee drinks, it isn’t drowned in syrup and whipped cream, which really lets the taste of the coffee shine through.
Those not so into the joe can also pull up to this stand sans fear, as Akamai serves up a variety of other hot and cold beverages, among them amazing iced tea. They brew Numi Organic Teas, which are fair trade certified, and served them iced or hot. They’ve also struck a perfect balance of flavors with their chai. Other drinks include smoothies, Italian sodas and hot chocolate.
If you want something to chew on, Akamai offers scrumptious baked goods. All of this deliciousness is served to you by friendly and pretty baristas, who will customize your drink to your liking, including substituting milk for soy.
If anything, it’s worth to visit Akamai Coffee just to see the fun messages they chalk all over the place. If you’re still a little wary, but would like to see what the buzz is about, check out their Facebook page, where they post trivia and even ask your opinion on how to decorate the shop. But I can guarantee you that once you have some of the coffee Akamai serves up, all other brews will pale in comparison. MTW
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