Curated or third-party roasted coffee subscription purveyors most often differentiate themselves by geographical region, yet that region in nearly all cases refers to where the coffee was roasted. A new subscription startup is differentiating itself through region of origin, and in this case it’s the only U.S. region in which coffee is readily grown on a commercial scale: Hawaii.
Marina Terwilliger-Yamamoto, who grew up on the Big Island before becoming Miss Kona Coffee in 2002, officially launched Hawaii Coffee Box last month, offering single-month, three-month or six-month options that include a bag of coffee grown and roasted on the Hawaiian Islands.
The brand’s motto is “Hawaii’s coffee tour in a box,” and Terwilliger-Yamamoto said she hopes to offer coffees from several of the state’s major growing sub-regions, including the Big Island, Maui, Oahu, Molokai and Kauai. With each coffee, any given Hawaii Coffee Box might also feature an additional product from the given farm or roasting brand, such as chocolate, honey or soap.
Terwilliger-Yamamoto, who now lives on Oahu but gets business support from family on the Big Island, said since her days as a 17-year-old Miss Kona she’s developed a personal passion for touring coffee farms, and her goal is that each box can help tell share the story of the month’s featured farm and roaster, beyond simply offering quality coffee.
Though Terwilliger-Yamamoto isn’t rigorously cupping or scoring each potential coffee from partner roasters, she said she’s launching with well-established brands that provide 100 percent Hawaiian coffee, as opposed to blends. The first month’s box featured Ka’u Coffee from Aloha Farms.
“Most brands already have their own subscription option available for their own coffee, but are still happy to be featured in ours, as it introduces their coffee to new potential customers,” Terwilliger-Yamamoto told Daily Coffee News. “Its definitely a win-win for everybody. I’m happy to be supporting the local coffee industry this way.”
Terwilliger-Yamamoto added that with the tourism-minded subscription service, aesthetics do pay an important part in the selection. “Right now, to be honest, I’m reaching out to brands who I find have nice packaging, and I know that if I only buy their single-sourced, 100 percent Hawaiian coffee beans and no blends, the quality will be there,” she said. “It’s always more expensive that way, but thats what I want.”