Snuggled between a real estate offices, a fabric store, and an interior design store, Maui Coffee Roasters is one of the longest running cafes on Maui. NickyBeans Matichyn has been roasting coffee on Maui since the ‘80s.
“We opened as a roastery,” says Matichyn. “There was no food, nothing. Just coffee. People could come in and buy a coffee. But they asked, ‘Do you have donuts or something with the coffee?’ So, OK, we got donuts. Then we would expand the food a little more. It all happened very organically. No plan.”
Their little roastery on Lower Main in Wailuku gave way to a bigger one. They did the coffee for Sir Wilfred’s. Eventually, they settled into their current location off Hana Highway. Joy Marra has been with Maui Coffee Roasters since the late ‘90s, manages the heart of the operation, and is their resident historian.
“Nick has been at this location since ‘92,” says Marra. “Before that he was in Wailuku in the early ‘80s on Lower Main street. Over the years he worked with Sir Wilfred’s and did his coffee when he was in the Maui Mall. He used to roast in the back of this store. Then he got the warehouse. Now we are working on a space for a tasting room.”
Maui Coffee Roasters is the place to go for coffee in Kahului. The bagels are out of the world, the coffee is on point, and the dining room is just a really fun place to hang out. You will often see families enjoying their food and coffee here.
“We have had four generations of the same family having coffee in here!,” says Matichyn. “The joy of having a business, what is nice, is that part of people coming in – grandmas and grandpas, and families. It is real subtle, and a lot of the time you don’t think about it. But then that is what is happening here. It’s pretty cool.”
“There are people I worked with, that have worked here pregnant – and then I have later hired those kids!” says Marra. “People always come by to say hi and get hugs and get coffee. It’s very family-like, very sweet. I get letters from people who thank us for their time here. The generational thing! It’s mind blowing.”
Leslie Taong heads up the kitchen that pumps out a variety of bagel sandwiches, breakfast wraps, and eggs Benedict, just to name a few of the fantastic items on the breakfast menu. They also make all kinds of lunch sandwiches, protein and veggie-packed bowl dishes, acai bowls, and salads.
“The crab salad sandwich, it’s one of our oldest menu items. That and our tuna salad; those are our tried and true,” says Marra. “Over the years I have been pulling and changing out menu items. I secretly switch out items. Our bagels are super popular, the people love the veggie bagel deluxe. We sell more bagel sandwiches than anything! We get all our bagels from The Bakery in Lahaina, fresh every morning. They are so good. Harold Hardcastle makes them and they are the best. We have been doing business with him going on 18 years.”
They also have a full menu of coffee drinks, nitro, cold brew, pour over, espressos, brewed coffee, granita, and smoothies. Their coffee is roasted in small batches. They have 100 percent Maui coffee, 100 percent Kona coffee, and quality coffees from around the world.
“Hawaiʻi coffee is the only coffee grown in the US. It is an origin coffee,” says Marra. “It’s a specialty for us. A lot of people on the mainland and around the world don’t get to try it until they come here. “
They sell a lot of bags of coffee and have a retail section of coffee accessories, not to mention all of their great t-shirts and logo mugs.
“When we started this cafe, we didn’t have all the Starbucks on the island,” says Marra. “But Starbucks has been good for the culture, it has taught people the language. Now people have a baseline to go off of.”
As people got more educated about their coffee, they wanted to make choices and they knew what they liked. Maui Coffee Roasters stepped up and stayed with the trends for drinks, but is still serving their base their usuals too.
“You have to pay attention,” says Matichyn. “We somehow try to keep track of what people want. People wanted pour-overs so we want to have that on the menu. The cold brew – originally in the ‘50s that was called a toddy. It was developed for people with a bad stomach. It wasn’t made for cold coffee, it was made for hot coffee. You make a concentrate, and then add that to hot water and heat up for a toddy. But now the grandkids decided let’s have a new name, cold brew, and drink it iced.”
Technically Maui Coffee Roasters has been serving cold brew for 20 years! They just called it something different before. Maui Coffee Roasters has even managed to keep its self-serve, grab-and-go “mailbox coffee.” You just stick your dollars in the slot in the mailbox on the counter and avoid the lines. Marra says people for the most part keep it real, and only occasionally does she find a strange artifact or two. The cafe has a rewards program, and also observes the Happy Cappy Hour from 2:30pm ‘til close, when you can get $2 shots of cappuccino.
Another thing which hasn’t changed, says Matichyn, is the philosophy at Maui Coffee Roasters, which has always been to enjoy. Enjoy your coffee, enjoy your food, enjoy the lifestyle. “It’s about enjoying,” he says. “It’s a lifestyle about enjoying what we do. It’s never been about our brand, always about liking what we do.”
The Maui Coffee Roasters team will sleepover at the Maui Humane Society this weekend during the 2nd Annual Spring Fling slumber party. The lovely ladies will be keeping the kitties company for 12 hours in their cathouse, and stream the whole thing live on the Maui Humane Society Facebook page. Tune in at 6pm on Saturday March 7th to support them!
All photos by Sean Hower, Howerphoto.com
Maui Coffee Roasters
444 Hana Hwy., Kahului
Mon.-Sat., 7am-6pm (5pm kitchen closes)
Sunday, 8am-4pm (2:30pm kitchen closes)