The Beginning of a Beautiful Partnership

Local performers entertain crowds at Coffees of Hawaii.

By Jennifer Smith

Witnessing the joyful new atmosphere of Sunday afternoons at Coffees of Hawaii (COH), one cannot help but hear the infamous last line of Casablanca, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

For the past five years the popular musical performance group Na Ohana Hoaloha has filled the main room in the Lodge at Molokai Ranch with upbeat melodies. However, “when the Ranch closed we had to find a new home,” Na Ohana bass player Dora Nojima said, explaining how the group came to play at Coffees.

Nearly 100 people attended the little advertised first Coffees of Hawaii performance last week Sunday. This week the coconut wireless worked with lightening speed, as audience members showed up early with wine, appetizers and mocha mommas in hand. The newly extended patio barely contained a crowd of over 100 smiling audience members.

Community members shouted out requests for old favorites, while visitors took photos and learned interesting facts about Hawaiian culture. The event marks the beginning of what will hopefully become a long running relationship between Na Ohana and COH.

“We love it here, there is a very intimidate relationship with our audience,” guitar player George Benda said.

“Nothing is negative, everything is positive,” ukulele player and hula dancer Aunty Julia Hoe said, explaining how everyone benefits from the partnership, even the Kualapu`u Cookhouse that is now open for dinner on Sundays.

COH owner Mike Atherton attended the first performance of Na Ohana at Coffees and “was overjoyed to see all of these people at our plantation,” COH store and espresso bar manager Pua Naeole said.

“It has created a great attraction for us here,” Naeole said. “We always wanted something as stable as this to be known for.”

COH has extended its hours and menu to accommodate the new Sunday performances. The popular coffee spot has outgrown its current espresso bar and has plans for an expansion. Until then, COH will offer additional appetizers and pupus, and guests can BYOB (bring your own bottle) of alcoholic beverages.

COH has recently expanded operations throughout the islands, opening a plantation on Maui and roasting operations in Honolulu. The coffee company will also participate in this month’s spring new products show on Oahu, in addition to accompanying Molokai based Kanemitsu bakery to the Made in Hawaii festival in August.

“As Coffees grows, so will we,” Aunty Julia said. “We want to be a part of their vision.”

Both partners already share a commitment to the Molokai community. COH has made several donations to local organizations, including a recent donation of $500 to the Kalaupapa Patient Advisory Council. All monies raised by Na Ohana Hoaloha go to support the Molokai based Special Olympics, Cancer Society, Aka`ula School, ukulele guild, and Moana’s hula halau.

“We have been blessed, it’s one big family here,” Auntie Julia said. She gave a big mahalo to Coffees of Hawaii for allowing the group to perform there.

Audiences can enjoy Na Ohana Hoaloha performances every Sunday from 4-6 p.m. at Coffees of Hawaii. The espresso bar and gift shop will stay open until 7 p.m. and Kualapu`u Cookhouse will be open for dinner until 8:30 p.m.


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