Rolling down Koloa Road from Po’ipu, veer left onto a swath of gravel just after Lawai General Store and before the stoplight at Kaumuali’i Highway. There, find the charming vintage trailer of Dark Roost coffee, where the brews are as smooth and inviting as the tradewinds Hawai’i is known and remembered for.
If you need proof that this world is indeed a small one, look no further than the island of Kauai. Take Dark Roost, for example, owned & operated by my high school classmate Jon and his wife Stasia, a San Diego native.
I sat on one of the three picnic tables during my first visit, taking in the dewy warmth of the morning. Jon popped out of the trailer after a spurt of mid-morning business to talk story* and catch up on life after high school. Our ten year reunion was that weekend and fortunately, not much has changed.
During my second visit a few days later, we approached a confab of familiar faces from high school, including our classmate Ashley, who was the catalyst for Dark Roost’s existence as a coffee service.
“Ashley’s wedding was our debut event as a party rental; we just happened to serve coffee out of it by request that morning for them,” explains Stasia.
The idea was to rent the trailer – named Perris – for events, but most days the renovated Pacer is grounded at its current location in Lawai.
Browsing the Dark Roost menu, I spotted brews from Dark Horse Coffee, a familiar name within the San Diego coffee circle.
“We grew up together on the same street,” says Jon of Daniel, one of Dark Horse’s founders. How about that?
Dark Horse, with San Diego locations in North Park and Normal Heights neighborhoods, is featured regularly on Dark Roost’s menu. Recent shipments have included their Ethiopia Harrar and Guatemala Hunapu roasts. Waimea’s Kaua’i Roastery, whom are family friends, also supplies the bulk of Dark Roost’s beans.
“The main thing is I always try to get fresh coffee,” Jon says.
Specials are posted regularly via Dark Roost’s Instagram, including their locally made pastry of the day.
Between the freshly roasted beans from the West side and the West Coast, Dark Roost serves an edited menu with room for some special stuff.
“Our mainstays are cold brew, regular brew, chai, pour overs, aeropress (although that started as a specialty and became a must!), various iced tea lemonades and probably the coconut thai tea, now that it has proven much loved. Our most recent specialty drink was a mint mojito iced coffee made with fresh muddled mint – it will be on as resources are available, and we’ve got some new specialties up our sleeve – but I can’t spill the beans!” reveals Stasia.
If you’re a first-timer to Dark Roost, Stasia recommends a pour over to satisfy hot coffee cravings, or a cold brew to cool off a bit. They also serve coconut and almond milk at no extra charge.
Dark Roost is open weekdays from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and closed on the weekends. Find them nestled between The Fresh Shave vintage shave ice trailer (run by Jon’s sister) and Kickshaw’s food truck. If you drop by around 9 a.m. or so, you may even catch Stasia dropping off breakfast with little ones.
*Ono Yum tip: You won’t find WiFi here as Dark Roost’s coffee is best paired with good old-fashioned social networking, da kine you do with your mouths! Locals call it talking story \m/