According to the National Restaurant Association, in Hawaii alone, restaurant and food service jobs account for 14% of the total employment in the state, 4% higher than the national average. Set to gross a whopping $4.6 billion in sales in 2017, restaurants across Hawaii, and by extension the entire food and beverage (F&B) industry, provides endless opportunities for growth, not to mention thousands of jobs for hardworking residents in the most expensive state in the country.
On your next trip to Maui, we encourage you to not only branch out from your resort to explore the local natural gems and cultural hotspots, but also support Maui’s F&B scene by eating (and drinking!) local whenever possible. Today we’re here to offer some little known facts about the local food and beverage industry, and we hope you’ll join us to learn even more during your next trip to paradise.
Did You Know: Maui F&B Edition
While travelers flock by the thousands to try culinary delights known all across the country – Creole and Cajun dishes in New Orleans, Texas barbecue, Chicago pizza, craft breweries in Portland, Maine lobster, Cuban food in Miami, Philly cheesesteaks, and the hodgepodge of award-winning options in New York, San Francisco and Seattle – Hawaii is deservedly beginning to draw attention from foodies and fellow craft cocktail fans around the globe, thanks in large part to the talented F&B crafters working hard to create world class dishes, beer, wine, and spirits utilizing local ingredients.
Hawaii is the Only U.S. State to Grow Coffee
Originally brought to the Hawaiian Islands in 1825, coffee trees from Brazil flourished due to Hawaii’s location within the “Bean Belt,” an area known for its temperate, tropical climate and rich, volcanic soil. The only state to grow coffee commercially, Hawaii now has more than 700 small coffee farms across 5 islands, with more farms growing coffee than any other crop.
Though the most common varieties include Cataui, Caturra, Kauai Blue Mountain, Mokka, Mundo Novo and Typica, locals and travelers can find just about any kind they desire. With plentiful coffee farms on Maui, our favorite to visit is the Mill House Roasting Co., conveniently located at the lush Maui Tropical Plantation.
Roasting 100% Maui beans, visitors are invited to sample and purchase several gourmet Maui coffee varieties, including Dark Roast, Medium Roast, Mokha, Vanilla Macnut, Coconut Cream, Maui Blend and Decaf.
We’re Also the Only U.S. State to Farm Taro
With the exception of Fellsmere, Florida, in the 1920’s, when the Secretary of the Florida Department of Agriculture deemed taro to be a valuable crop for growth in muck fields, taro has predominantly been grown and farmed in the Hawaiian Islands, dating back to the first Polynesian settlers who first brought taro in their canoes.
Known as ‘kalo’ in the Hawaiian language, taro is not only a staple of the Native Hawaiian diet, but also a sacred plant with which they are closely related through Hawaiian legend. Most commonly made into poi and paired with local specialties like lau lau, lomi lomi salmon and kalua pork, taro farming is still popular practice on Maui to this day.
For those traveling to Maui in April, the East Maui Taro Festival provides an excellent opportunity to learn more about and taste this unique speciality, especially during the annual Taro Pancake Breakfast in the remote region of Hana!
Maui Specializes in Premium Pineapple Wines
Not only does the Maui Gold Brand of pineapple have three times the amount of vitamin C of other brands of pineapple, but you can also tour the only working pineapple plantation in the country at Maui Pineapple Tours, one of many stops on our Field to Glass Tour.
Made from Maui Gold Brand pineapples, MauiWine’s range of local pineapple wines offer a delightful way to sample two specialities at once.
Recommended for those who like Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio, Maui Blanc is crisp and clean and perfect for sangria in the summer or alongside spicy foods. Alternately, Maui Splash is perfect for those who prefer sweeter varieties like Riesling and Moscato, and want to indulge poolside with a fruity sidekick. Lastly, Hula o Maui is a sparkling wine with a crisp, smooth flavor that’s perfect for morning mimosas or alongside a light lunch. Best of all? Our Field to Glass Tour includes a stop here as well!
Maui has Two Distilleries on the Slopes of Haleakala
Located Upcountry on the slopes of Haleakala Volcano, most visitors make the winding drive to the summit of the 10,000 foot volcano to witness a scenic sunrise or sunset, never realizing they missed two craft distilleries on the way!
Hali’imaile Distilling Company, who we also visit on our Field to Glass Tour, prides itself on producing some of the island’s best handcrafted, locally made spirits, all distilled in small batches in their Makawao location. Whether it’s the Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum, perfect for enjoying mai tais with an ocean view, or the smooth Paniolo Whiskey with hints of the tropics, they take craft distilling to a whole new level.
Alternately, Maui visitors are invited to explore the beautiful grounds, which overlook the West Maui Mountains and Pacific Ocean, and enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour at the Hawaii Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery, which we visit as part of our Taste of Maui and Ultimate Craft Adventure Tours. A USDA certified organic operation, their Ocean Organic Vodka is one of our top recommended spirits to try while on Maui, along with their Deep Island Hawaiian Rum. Delish!
Mahalo for reading our blog post about the little known facts about Maui’s F&B scene, and we hope to share more of our knowledge with you during one of our unique Maui tour options. Cheers to all our local crafters!