Tasty Kona Highlights Products From Local Small Businesses
Stocked with Hawai‘i-made treats and treasures — plus fun and handy gifts geared for the traveler — Tasty Kona officially opened its doors June 6. Festivities included a ribbon cutting, coffee tasting, entertainment, giveaways and pet adoptions with Kohala Animal Relocation and Education Services (KARES). A percentage of sales also benefited KARES.
Located in Kona Marketplace at 75-5725 Ali‘i Drive below Pancho and Lefty’s Restaurante, Tasty Kona is the brainchild of owner Eva Koenig. She has stocked the new 1400-square-foot boutique with the kind of merchandise she likes to find when travelling to different destinations — including choices for vegans and socially conscious shoppers.
“My husband and I like coming across fun and unique things when travelling,” said Koenig, a speech language pathologist. “We shop for spices, regional foods we can bring back as gifts or enjoy back home, and we’re interested in anything handmade.”
Always the intrepid shopper, Koenig has hand-picked every item in the store. She describes the merchandise as mainly made-in-Hawai‘i or by small companies from around the globe. Items she has sourced from afar are “exciting and unique for the people who live here.”
Koenig, who has lived on the Big Island since 2012, says she got inspiration to create Tasty Kona while on a trip to South Point. She stopped at Miranda’s Farms Coffee Shop in Na‘alehu and was not only impressed with the barista coffee beverages, but also the abundance of local products and the friendly vibe.
“The welcome feeling and positive energy you get walking through the door at Miranda’s Coffee Shop stood out to us,” Koenig said. “And then there’s the wow factor of their coffee. We left thinking, ‘This is the experience we want our customers to feel.’”
With that in mind, Tasty Kona is featuring select products from over 40 Hawai‘i businesses across five islands and looking for more. Find Ocean Raku pottery and earrings from Hawi, greeting cards by Ellamoon Art from Kapa‘au and non-toxic Kapa Nui Nail products from Waimea. Hailing from Kaua‘i is The Craft of Wandering selection of perfumed oils, candles and soaps and Tiny Isle’s line of mac nut butters. From O‘ahu are Hawaii-grown tea blends by Kye Teahouse and Hale Plume hand-poured soy candles.
Tasty Kona is the only Kona retailer selling Maui-based Hawaii Fudge Company’s toffees and fudge. The store is stocked with numerous value-added food products, all are pre-packaged and shelf-stable.
Miranda’s Farms Coffee, which is among a handful of Hawai‘i coffee and tea companies displayed, collaborated with Tasty Kona on the grand opening. The Miranda team served coffee samples and demonstrated how coffee is critiqued during cupping competitions. Established in 2006, family-run Miranda’s Farms has received multiple awards in the annual statewide Hawai‘i Coffee Association Cupping Competition, most recently taking first place for coffees grown in the district of Ka‘u and fifth place statewide for its yellow caturra coffee.
“Yellow caturra is a coffee variety with a fruity, brown sugar profile that has a hint of chocolate and a citrusy acidity,” said Maria Miranda, co-owner of Miranda’s Farms. “Our newest variety is red catuai. It’s a robust coffee heavy on chocolate, hazelnut and cane sugar flavors with notes of caramel.”
Miranda’s Farms offers these 100% Ka‘u coffee varieties at Tasty Kona, plus typica in dark and medium roasts.
“We are over-joyed to be selling our Ka‘u coffee in the heart of Kona as we have a lot of respect for Kona coffee and its farmers,” Miranda said. “All of Hawai‘i’s coffee regions have their attributes and Ka‘u coffee claims its own unique weather, volcanic conditions, soil, terrain, altitude and hard-working farmers, many who were displaced by the sugar industry.”
In addition to selling Hawai‘i products, Tasty Kona carries fair-trade, eco-friendly, sustainable merchandise by companies like Bali Zen, which provides home goods handmade by residents in local Indonesian villages.
“I like Bali Zen’s colorful toiletry bags and kitchen items because they are handmade and sustainable,” Koenig said.
Tasty Kona is the first Hawai‘i retailer of Bear Paws, a fun line of craft beer dog treats using spent brewers’ grain in Kansas City. Koenig says the product is a good fit because she loves animals and it has a Hawai‘i connection with the company owner living in Hilo “and looking to create a line here.”
In the works at Tasty Kona is a non-profit fundraising program, focusing on causes personally relevant to the store owner. In addition to KARES, which Koenig received support from while rescuing cats during COVID, she plans to raise funds for two groups she has worked with professionally: the ALS Association Golden West Hawai‘i Chapter and Speech Therapy Cambodia.
“I really want the store to be successful because I’m supporting many businesses who are important for our community,” adds Koenig. “I’m hopeful for a resurgence of business post-COVID and a revival of shopping on Ali‘i Drive.”
Tasty Kona is open 9 am to 7:30 pm. Tuesday through Sunday and looking for employees and vendors. Visit tastykona.com or phone 808-430-9233 for details. Stay connected on Facebook and Instagram @tastykona.