The other kind of black gold

WAILUA — Imua Coffee Roasters is all about setting their customers up for an epic journey, no matter what the plan is for the rest of the day.

“’Imua’ that’s a word that’s used in canoeing and it means ‘to move forward’,” said Steven Meredith, owner of Imua Coffee Roasters. “It’s sort of a rallying call.”

And that’s the goal of Imua Coffee Roasters: to be a rallying point for adventure-goers, working professionals and anyone else that needs a jump-start.

But it’s not just their customer’s journey that has caught the obsession of Meredith and his team, the coffee bean’s journey from the plant to the cup is paramount to the company.

“We want to do one thing and we want to do it well,” Meredith said. “So our place is very no frills. We have no frills on our packaging and we have locally made pastries, but we focus on coffee.”

That coffee starts with farmers around the world who are connected to Meredith through a Mainland company that directly trades coffee from farmers to roasters.

Meredith gets profiles on the coffee and the farmers with the beans he buys.

“We get to see the care that the farmer and his employees put into growing their bean and the drying process and they’re passionate because it’s their livelihood,” Meredith said. “Then it’s up to us to make the product worthy of the work they’ve put into it.”

The beans aren’t the only piece of Imua Coffee Roaster that have been on a journey, the roaster itself started off in New Hampshire and had to be modified in California before it landed on Kauai.

In California, the machine was modified with an oxidizer that filters the burnt toast smell that comes from roasting and once it was up to par, the roaster was put into a location that had been sitting empty for years.

That space is the corner space in Wailua behind the Coconut Marketplace and near the Aston Islander resort.

Throughout the 16 years he’s been on-island working as a finish carpenter, he’s held the dream of putting a roaster in that place.

“So I had the space and I thought, what a great coffee shop,” Meredith said. “Then when I had the means to build a roasting company, I thought, why not have both.”

Meredith took two years to completely renovate the space and did nearly all of the work himself. He does all of the roasting and he works behind the bar daily, taking orders and chatting with customers.

He relies on three baristas, all of whom are highly trained, to make his roasting sing in the various drinks available.

Even the espresso, which is a blend of two different beans crafted to create the perfect balance with a caramel finish, took some time to formulate.

“I tried out quite a few different blends and combinations before I found the right one,” Meredith said.

The team over at Imua Coffee Roasters could spell out the reasons why they’ve changed their approach on roasting from basing tastes on carbon content to focusing on the fruit flavors during molecular breakdown of the beans during roasting.

But, they don’t require their customers to know that in order to get a perfect cup o’ joe from their counter.

“We’ve got the science down so you don’t have to,” Meredith said. “You can just come in and get a cup of coffee here, but it’ll be the best cup of coffee.”

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