Greg Brown doesn’t drink coffee, but that didn’t stop him from opening a cafe in Paia. I recently met him at Da Vine Art Cafe in Paia with Susun White, his wife, and daughter Gaia Golden Brown, who was working as the barista one morning to sample their espresso and talk about the new change in their intimate wine bar.
“I am not a coffee drinker,” says Brown. “But what I found out, especially from the Europeans, is their attitude towards coffee. They are more purists. What I do to my coffee with milk and syrup is not real coffee. I’ve been finding out all the aspects of coffee. They are as diverse and meaningful to people as folks that drink wine. Even with coffee, you want to drink it out of the right glass. Europeans won’t drink coffee out of a paper cup–they frown on that.”
While we chat, Gaia makes an exquisite cappuccino for me. It’s strong and smooth.
“Ed from Anthony’s Coffee has helped and consulted with me to an extent,” says Brown. “He’s shown us how to prepare coffee the way Europeans prepare it. We have a couple of Czechoslovakian guys that had a cafe in Lahaina that have also helped and consulted.”
Their focus on coffee is pretty geeky, but they’re not letting it detract from their primary reason for being.
“We’re still Da Vine Art,” says White. “We’re still doing the wine and beer thing. We’re staying away from the bar thing, it’s too difficult. We’re staying with wine and beer but now we have added the coffee and liquors.”
They keep a selection of liquors handy for spiked coffees, too.
“My favorite coffee is a shot with Kahlua and whipped cream on top,” says Brown. “I have to wait at least until 11am, until it’s somewhat the cocktail hour. Legally we can serve spiked coffee starting from 6:30am. There’s no shame in that. ”
The shop opens at 7am and has extended hours for summer. They don’t have a happy hour per se, but keep great prices on their high quality beer and wine all day–after all, there’s a wine shop next door. Beers are $4 and wines can range from $8 to $18 a glass.
The cafe also serves light fare like pastries, bagels and tea. It would be great if the Wine Corner store and the cafe were one, and you could taste wines before you purchase them. Brown says eventually he would love to have the wine store and the cafe combined or a doorway opening to combine the two, but that would require new liquor laws on the books in Maui County. In the mean time, Brown is focusing on getting the coffee right.
“There’s a lot to it,” Brown says. “How you grind the coffee, what coffee you grind. How long you take to run hot water through it. We have good baristas that know coffee. To be a barista, there’s a lot more than just pouring the coffee in and pulling the handle. We have a good machine, and good water, the right temperatures. Our whole thing is to get to that European coffee. More people are into coffee than wine by a long shot. You can get away with drinking a bad bottle of wine, but a bad cup of coffee does not fly.”
DA VINE ART CAFE
149 Hana Hwy, Paia,
Open Mon, Tues and Wed 7am-2pm; Thurs, Fri and Sat 7am-7pm; Sun 8am-2pm
Photos: Sean M. Hower