Wailuku Coffee Co.
26 N. Market Street
When Cafe Marc Aurel closed in mid-May, the terror was palpable in the MauiTime editorial office. We survive on coffee and Marc Aurel was our lifeline. Thankfully, Megan Childers and her business partner, Jackie Goring, opened Wailuku Coffee Company in the location at 26 N. Market Street. Childers is no newcomer to coffeehouse culture; she opened her first cafe (a drive-through) in Washington when she was 17.
Jen Russo: How do you make the perfect espresso?
Megan Childers: It starts with fresh beans, and we have a special grinder that works the beans into a fine ground without bean shock. Tamp the grind into the portafilter and you have to have 220-degree water to make the perfect espresso. The perfect espresso has 5 millimeters of crema, and takes about 18 to 22 seconds to pour.
JR: Um, bean shock?
MC: Yeah, you have to be careful with the grinding process. Ordinary grinders can heat up the beans with friction as they break down the beans into the ground product. The heat changes the flavor of the coffee, and not in a good way.
JR: Where do you get your coffee?
MC: Maui Oma Coffee Roasting Co. They get green coffee beans from all over the world and they roast them here.
JR: Do you have Maui or Hawaii coffee for sale?
MC: Not now, but we are planning to have some Maui and Kauai coffee in the future. We plan to harvest our own fields in Kipahulu of “Kanaka Kope” this year too. These plants have been growing on my fiance’s family land since the 1800s. It’s a huge undertaking. It takes 13 pounds of coffee cherry to make one pound of coffee. We’re anticipate getting about four pounds from these trees. And we will be harvesting ourselves, once a week for six weeks.
JR: Wow, I want to taste that coffee. What’s the worst cup of coffee you’ve ever had?
MC: Kopi luwak. Marc Aurel had a bag of it and made me a cup. It’s really gourmet expensive stuff where the luwak [a small Asian mammal] eats the coffee cherry and poops out the bean that is roasted.
JR: What’s the most popular coffee at Wailuku Coffee Company?
MC: French roast. People love it, they’re very comfortable with the French roast and ours is really good. It’s a longer, darker roast. Most people don’t know that the darker roasts have less caffeine because the beans have been roasted longer. The closer to raw the bean is, the more the caffeine. The lighter roasts are stronger. It’s confusing.
JR: Your iced toddy coffee is incredible. What’s the secret?
MC: Toddy is the way you brew it. It’s a cold water extraction. We put five pounds of ground coffee in a filtering bag and put in a vat of water for 24 hours. From this we have a concentrate that is diluted in pitchers. You can actually buy the toddy concentrate for $14 a pitcher here and keep it in your fridge. It should last you about a month. The cold water process makes coffee with no bitterness, no acidity; it’s easy on sensitive stomachs. You can also order a hot toddy, and we will heat that cold process coffee up for you.
JR: What’s the best thing to eat with a cup of coffee?
MC: You can’t beat a fresh baked croissant. I remember the first time I gave my fiance a coffee with his muffin, and he was never a coffee drinker, but he said, this is so good! That’s the way pastries were meant to be eaten, with coffee.
JR: You just rolled out a new food menu. What’s the good stuff?
MC: Build your own breakfast sandwich. Starts with egg, cheddar and tomato, your choice of bacon, ham or turkey, and you can put it on croissant, bread or bagel for $5. At lunch we have this soup in a fresh-baked bread bowl that is ridiculously good for $6.50. It takes a little longer because we literally bake the bread after you order it. We considered pre-baking the bread before lunch but we decided not to compromise; it’s worth the wait. Right now we’re serving clam chowder or minestrone in it.
JR: I’ve heard of “foam art.” What exactly is that?
MC: Milk foam is created with steam. I can hear it whizzing around in the milk and I know I’ve got good foam. You have to be careful with nonfat and soy, those make more foam than whole milk. When you order a cappuccino it’s one-third espresso, one-third milk and one-third foam. You can order it dry, that’s less milk, or wet, that’s less foam. You can make designs with the foam; it’s called latte art. I practice my latte art every day.
JR: What makes your coffee shop unique?
MC: Well, besides being the only coffee shop in Wailuku, we’re just trying to be a great coffee destination. We want to cater to both sides of the coffee drinker, those that need to get something quick and and those that want to just hang out and leisurely enjoy their coffee. I pride myself on being friendly to everyone who walks through that door, whether I see you everyday or if this is your first time here. We want to provide excellent service, delicious, healthy and affordable food, and the best espresso on Earth.