All photos courtesy of Sean Hower Al fresco cafes with Vespa rentals can’t help but evoke a European flair, and Cafe Cafe in Lahaina is no exception. Sitting in their chairs on Lahainaluna, perusing the coffee menu and considering croissants will transport you to Rome or Paris. Owner Pavel Hladis and his brother, Klika, grew up in the Czech Republic, and they spent a lot of their time socializing at cafes–common in Europe, but friends say they took it to an extreme. Their friends even said they were so obsessed that they needed their own cafe. Years later, when the space at 129 Lahainaluna–which had housed many local businesses, including a lingerie store and scooter rental–Pavel and Klika saw the perfect opportunity to realize their dream. Cafe Cafe & Motoroshi Maui opened in February 2012. “Basically I wanted to bring the European coffee house experience to Maui, but blend it with local coffee, local fare and Maui’s relaxed vibe–no shirt, no shoes, no problem,” says Pavel. “After all, a cafe is supposed to feel like home, but better. Because someone’s there who knows your name, your favorite drink, makes you a simple meal and does the dishes while you listen to great music, read, catch up with friends or have a meeting or work online with free wifi. This is my living room, and I want you to think of it that way, too.” It may be his living room, but Cafe Cafe has a serious dedication to coffee quality. Pavel is passionate about dark roasts with full, rich body and low acidity. Working with Maui Oma, he developed custom blends of beans and special roasts that express his tastes through Maui’s local coffee. On Friday afternoons, they host free coffee tastings. ‘You should be able to cut the crema of an espresso with a knife,” says Pavel. “You need to be able to put a spoon of sugar on a cappuccino or latte and have it sit there before it falls into the drink.” For food, the cafe offers a range of healthy offerings. Like green veggie smoothies and fresh fruit smoothies made on demand, with additions like Billy’s Infinity Greens, soaked chia, flax seed oil and avocado. They also do acai with super foods, fruits and greens, goji chia and banana, and kale and quinoa salads. Then there are bagels and croissant sandwiches and scrambled egg plates. The cafe recently ditched their gelato case to expand their fruit and veggie smoothie menu. They have an array of sweeteners and alternatives to milk. “Cafe Cafe has five different kinds of natural sweetener,” says Heather Harde, a co-manager in the business. “Organic cane sugar, coconut palm sugar, honey and agave. We also have three different milk alternatives–soy, almond and coconut milks. But no skim milk. We don’t think it’s healthy, so we don’t offer it. A few tourists still storm out in protest, but we think locals appreciate our heathy focus.” They also pay special attention to iced coffee, taking the time to make cubes out of coffee so it doesn’t get diluted. It’s an extra step but in Lahaina’s heat, it makes all the difference. “The cafe has grown into its healthy menu over time,” says Harde. “It started out with croissants and bagels from The Bakery in Lahaina and locally-made banana and pineapple-zucchini breads, but we’ve grown our offering, both to reflect what we want to eat ourselves as well as to match the mostly-healthy food preferences of locals who work Front Street and live in Lahaina. We’re not any one thing in particular, but we do work hard to offer a number of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menu options that work for breakfast, lunch and any time of day. We source as many of our fresh ingredients as possible and our cream/milk alternatives from Mana Foods in Paia. We’re hoping to expand our relationships directly with West Maui farmers and growers as the cafe continues to grow.” True to its Euro roots and Pavel’s other passion, Cafe Cafe is also home base to Motoroshi Maui, which offers Vespa and scooter rentals. Hawaii state laws says Vespas require motorcycle endorsements on licenses since their engines are greater than 50cc, but Motoroshi also has a fleet of a dozen Genuine Buddy and Rough House scooters that anyone with a US or international driver’s license can rent. “In Europe, it’s common to ride Vespas and scooters, and you’ll often know a cafe by the concentration of parked bikes in front,” says Pavel. “We’re the only folks on Maui to rent the Italian, Vespa-branded motorcycles, and they do add to the European vibe of the cafe. We offer the bikes for three-hour tours as well as daily, multi-day and weekly rentals. Helmets, bike locks and safety lessons are included with each rental. The scooters are most popular and appropriate for day trips touring the West Maui beaches. We like to send visitors along the Lower Honoapi’ilani Road to Honolua Bay.” Another compliment to the Cafe and its ambience is the gift shop. Cafe Cafe sells their own line of Maui Coffee in locally designed woodblock print packaging on foil lined recycled paper. In addition to coffee, you’ll find books like Practice Aloha by Mark Ellman and artisan crafts. They also host Aloha Friday celebrations and other events. Stay tuned for a Maui hair-care clinic with Daniela Fornier from Art + Soul Hair Design in Lahaina that will feature her amazing line of wooden brushes and info about natural products to protect the health o
f your hair in Maui’s sun and surf. “One of our baristas, Brianna McIlroy, started making her own line of sea glass jewelry–beautiful, strong pieces that draw from native crafts and materials,” says Harde. “We wanted to support her, so we launched her line with an Aloha Friday afternoon trunk show. Now we’re carrying her pieces on an ongoing basis. We’re also starting to host other local artists on a rotating basis. We think it’s part of a cafe’s mission to be an authentic part of the community that it serves.”
Cafe Cafe & Motoroshi Maui 129 Lahainaluna Rd, Lahaina 808-661-0006 Open 7am-7pm daily cafecafemaui.com motoroshi.com
About Jen Russo
I write lifestyle and culinary columns for MauiTime. I love being a Maui girl and adore my big family. Dedicated food taster, blogger, internet fanatic, and Maui and Hawaii specialist.