There are only three Hawaii restaurants on Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. list in 2019—and Alii Coffee is the only Island-based coffee shop.
(The other two: Porky’s Kauai, a food truck, at No. 11 and Kahuku Farms, a roadside stand, at No. 63.)
So we had to find out why.
One late morning, we headed to the little shop, just outside of Downtown Honolulu—and it’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. There’s no dedicated parking, hardly any foot traffic outside its doors, and no gimmicks.
And yet, it current boasts five stars after 124 reviews on Yelp and debuts on the annual Top 100 list at No. 45.
James Webb and Will Gold partnered on this venture. Webb was already roasting and wholesaling coffee in Honolulu; Gold’s father owned a coffee shop in San Francisco. A mutual friend introduced them and the two bonded over their love for coffee. They started Alii Coffee Co. and served their freshly roasted local brews at farmers markets and events on O‘ahu, then opened a brick-and-mortar space here in May 2018.
For Webb, who grew up on Oahu, the business is a childhood dream come to fruition.