Two new cafes are exploring and expanding coffee culture in the home of Kona coffee.
The Pink Mocha in the Kaloko Light Industrial Area offers popular coffee and tea drinks in a growing part of North Kona, while Daylight Mind Coffee Co. in Waterfront Row on Alii Drive brings a new approach to coffee and cuisine in an established location. The Pink Mocha is a family business with local roots, while Daylight Mind brings a global perspective to Kona coffee. Owners of each cafe view coffee as more than a means to quick caffeine: It’s a way to get together and savor an experience.
Daylight Mind is moving into a location with a history of failure, with a sweeping vision to remake the venue. The shop, slated to open in early September, will be a cafe, bakery, restaurant, event space and coffee school. It features a cutting-edge industrial coffee roaster, which will be used to roast local coffees.
The Pink Mocha, which opened July 30, has the advantage of being the only coffee shop in its area. Co-owner Brandy Rivera said the cafe is serving a different Kona coffee every month and provides customers information about the featured farms.
What Napa Valley is to wine, Kona could be to coffee, said Colin Finn, Daylight Mind’s executive founder and one of its six founder-owners.
Finn has worked with coffee growers in Ethiopia and Peru and sees similar potential in Kona. By roasting correctly, cupping and branding beans to target coffee connoisseurs, growers can sell their products to a more lucrative, high-end market, he said.
Gene-Paul Rivera, Brandy’s husband and The Pink Mocha co-owner, said growing up and working on coffee farms in Kona instilled him with a deep respect for growers and the challenges they face. “Anything we can do to support them, we’ve got to do it,” he added.
Daylight Mind will roast, brew and sell several varieties of Kona coffee, including Greenwell Farms and Kona Rainforest coffees. It will also feature coffees from Maui, Molokai and international farms. Finn expects the inclusion of non-Kona coffees will be “controversial,” but that high-quality coffees from different places offer different flavors.
Daylight Mind aims to inspire “a deeper understanding of coffee” and spark a discussion about what creates a coffee’s flavor, said Casey Voightlaender, a co-owner and the marketing director.
Finn said when he first came to Kona a year ago, he had hoped to learn about Kona coffee at its source, but was unsatisfied by the education available. At Daylight Mind’s coffee school, which includes a classroom and barista training bar, customers will learn the science behind growing, roasting, brewing and cupping coffee. Finn hopes the classes will attract professional producers, retailers, cafe owners and connoisseurs.
Both cafes aim to create community gathering places. Finn said Daylight Mind aims to fill Kona’s “desperate need” for spaces to meet or relax. The Riveras envision The Pink Mocha, with its ocean view and peaceful atmosphere, as a comfortable space amid the busy industrial area.
Brandy said most customers are workers at neighboring businesses or are attracted by nearby box stores. The new Ane Keohokalole Highway also makes the location convenient for Kealakehe High School students. The couple hopes Hawaii Community College’s Palamanui campus and other future developments will bring more customers.
Daylight Mind’s location has the advantage of proximity to tourists and cruise ship passengers. The two-level coffeehouse has bay views from its restaurant and upstairs deck. Yet the venue has been vacant for the past six years. After Hooters restaurant shut down, two subsequent companies made plans for the location, but neither came to fruition. Finn said the site’s disrepair has been challenging. The plumbing and electricity needed repairs, and rust and termites eroded much of the venue.
The Riveras have long dreamed of opening a coffee shop. They began seriously researching and planning the venture a few years ago, and signed a lease for the shop last October, Brandy said. The venue, formerly occupied by Snorkel Bob’s, is now decorated with curlicue and heart motifs and accented with Brandy’s favorite color: pink. If successful, Brandy hopes to open more branches of the business. A former preschool teacher, she said her husband’s support and encouragement enabled her to turn their longtime dream into a reality. Gene-Paul owns his own construction company and comes from a family of entrepreneurs. His dad “would always try to get us out of that comfort zone,” he said.
Finn anticipates Daylight Mind’s challenges will be the scarcity of parking and getting customers in the door, because a portion of the building is not clearly visible to those passing by. To attract customers, Daylight Mind plans to hold free coffee tastings and use the building’s top deck for yoga classes, art shows or other community events.
Daylight Mind will focus on pure coffees, espresso, and coffee pairings with its bakery and restaurant items. Finn said the restaurant and cafe aim for “radical transparency,” allowing customers to see and understand where their food comes from. They also aim for “slow food fast,” he said, taking the movement’s concept of “simple food prepared really well,” but without long wait times. At Daylight Mind, breakfast and lunch entrees cost $6 to $12; dinner items are between $10 and $20.
The Pink Mocha’s popular items include its signature Pink Mocha, flavored with raspberry and dark chocolate, and Zebra Mocha, with white and dark chocolate. It also offers made-to-order smoothies and 16 varieties of organic loose-leaf tea, as well as baked goods from The Twisted Danish and cupcakes from Bleu Cupcakery. It also offers fresh sandwiches and salads and croissants baked each morning. The Pink Mocha’s drinks are between $2 and $7 and smoothies are $5. The most expensive item on the menu is a $7 salad.
For more information, visit daylightmind.com or call The Pink Mocha at 329-PINK.