In 2010, we were two young coffee lovers who stumbled upon a run-down coffee farm in a rugged region of Hawaiʻi - Puna - posted in an unlikely location: Portland's Craigslist. It could have been a scam, but with little to lose we thought ‘Why not’? Aided by our background in biology and organic farming, we took the chance.
Up to this point, we assumed Hawaiian coffees were categorically awful - they were known as artificially flavored, stale, souvenir 10% blends. Worse still, Puna coffees were rumored to be bitter and bland. Believing this, we hoped to make the best of a subpar product by honing the art of production, fermentation, and roasting.
The adventure led to unexpected discoveries. Like gems hidden, we found unique coffee varieties, the potential for quality, and a community of farmers whose efforts had gone unnoticed. Amidst this, we discovered deep-rooted problems, too: a counterfeit Kona coffee market, farmers abandoning their crops, and disregard for native lands. We wanted to change that.
After three years of persistence and problem-solving, our efforts paid off: our Puna Pink Bourbon earned Grand Champion in the Hawaii' Coffee Association Statewide Cupping Competition and became the first and only Puna coffee to receive the award. We were ecstatic and neighboring farmers began asking for advice. This was the year Big Island Coffee Roasters was born.
With an understanding of why counterfeiting flourished and farmers were abandoning their crops, we utilized a local grant to open the first refining mill in East Hawaiʻi and worked towards regional recognition by elevating the quality of local crops. Later that year, we were awarded a State Senate Certificate for aiding farm sustainability and putting little-old Puna on the map.
Fast forward a decade. Today, we're humbled to be one of the most recognized and awarded brands in Hawaii, leading with quality, community, and sustainability. We’re listed as among the Best Coffee Roasters in the U.S. by Forbes, Thrillist, Food & Wine, Good Housekeeping, Spruce Eats, and Honolulu Magazine. In 2021, we earned a Good Food Award for Espresso Bites. In 2023, Big Island Coffee Roasters earned Progressive Grocer’s “Impact Award” for environmental an social efforts, “Best Specialty Coffee Roaster” from the World Coffee Innovation Awards, and “Fastest Growing Hawai'i Company” awards from Pacific Business News.
Our team of two has grown to twenty caring, resourceful, resilient people. We source fresh coffees from dozens of farmers throughout Hawaiʻi, mill at our farm, and then roast and serve from our new cafe and roastery in Hilo, Hawaiʻi.
A love for craftsmanship and a desire to protect wild and beautiful places guide us each day. To our devoted customers, resilient farmers, supportive community, and the wild and beautiful coffee lovers on our team, a heartfelt mahalo.
-Kelleigh & Brandon
Founders of Big Island Coffee Roasters
IN THE NEWS
Visit our cafe in Hilo, Hawai’i!
You can also find us at resorts, retailers and cafes throughout Hawai’i, and in several specialty retailers throughout the continental US. Including but not limited to:
Hawai’i Resorts: Mauna Lani Auberge, Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Hideaway at The Laylow, Fairmont Kea Lani, and more...
Hawai’i Retailers & Cafes:Hawai’i Airport Gift Stores & Duty Free shops, Foodland Specialty, Whole Foods Market, Island Naturals, Mana Foods (Maui), Dean & Deluca, Morning Glass Cafe, and more...
California & Oregon resorts & retailers: Nugget Market, Lazy Acres, Bristol Farms, Zupans Market, Rainbow Grocery, Pronghorn Resort (Bend, Oregon), and more...
As we grow, we do so with a commitment towards preserving & protecting Hawaii's farms, wild land, food systems, native species, & ancient culture.