Makawao has a charming new place to get an Upcountry caffeine fix: a darling little converted horse trailer. In it, Maui-native Joannah Bryan serves up organic, fresh coffee with personality and enthusiasm.
Paniolo and camping enthusiasts will recognize cowboy coffee as a gritty and strong pot of grounds and water boiled over an open fire. “Cowgirl Coffee is made fresh by the cup with a pour-over,” Bryan explains. “It approximates cowboy coffee where you put the pitcher on the campfire, but it’s a little bit more refined because it’s cowgirl coffee,” she laughs.
The chalkboard menu cheerily displays the coffeehouse standbys of regular, decaf, and cinnamon pour-over house coffee, along with espresso-based lattes and cappuccinos mixed in with some unique twists on old favorites. Bryan uses all organic products. “I also have macadamia milk, which people really love,” Bryan said. “It makes a delicious mocha. I would say that’s our signature drink, I call it the Makawao Mocha. It’s made with organic macadamia nut milk, organic cacao, and homemade chocolate syrup. Everything on the menu can be served iced.” On the tea side of things, Cowgirl Coffee offers chai, wild orange and green tea, and turmeric-based golden milk.
Along with the yummy drinks, Cowgirl Coffee also serves tasty toast of both sweet and savory persuasions. The food menu is “very small but very delicious,” Bryan said. “We have fresh-baked sourdough toast; we do avocado toast, banana toast, and cinnamon sugar toast, and also freshly baked banana bread. All the banana and avocado is all local, organic deliciousness.”
Currently, Cowgirl Coffee’s horse-trailer-turned-coffee-shop is tucked between Stopwatch and Postal Plus on Makawao Avenue. “It’s a great place to get a coffee on-the-go, on your way into or out of Makawao Town. There are parking spots and we’re open early,” Bryan said. Right now, the truck has limited seating area.
The charming yellow truck with its horseshoe logo was conceived of, designed, and built by Bryan. “It’s a 1960 horse trailer that I converted,” said Bryan. “I did all the construction myself here on Maui. It’s a comprehensive little coffee shop, in a tiny little horse trailer. We have a really wonderful La Marzocco espresso machine, which is like the crowning jewel achievement of my business because it makes awesome coffee.”
Growing up in Keokea, Maui, Bryan moved away to the mainland but wanted to move home in 2017. “I wanted to do something Upcountry, and I wanted to do something that would make the local community happy and serve the local community. Makawao is a town that is near and dear to my heart… I thought it would be really cute to do something themed around the paniolo country and the rodeo. So that’s how Cowgirl Coffee came into conception!”
“I wanted to do something charming and something that would be a small footprint, both ecologically and economically. I’ve been doing my best to keep it really good for the island and really good for people’s bodies, so I use organic products and I’m trying to eliminate single-use plastic.” The business also operates on solar power, she added.
In her efforts to eliminate single-use plastic, Bryan has implemented a system to encourage people to bring their own cups and mugs. “You get a dollar off your drink if you bring your own cup or mug or mason jar. For the ice drinks, I charge an extra dollar for the mason jar, but you get a dollar off when you bring it back.” She also has a basket where customers can leave or take extra jars to pay it forward to their community.
“We opened in May, and so far it’s just trying to get the word out! Business has been pretty good. We have a lot of regular customers – once people find out that I’m here, they come back.”
If you’re looking for some caffeine with charm, go check out Cowgirl Coffee. “We’re here, serving up all this aloha for our local community. We want to engage with and serve the local community.”
1135 Makawao Ave., next to Stopwatch Sportsbar
Open Monday – Friday, 7am-1pm; Saturday, 9am-2pm
Photos courtesy Joannah Bryan