Stocked with Hawaii-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, Tasty Kona is the brainchild of owner Eva Koenig. She has stocked the new 1,400-square-foot boutique with the kind of merchandise she likes to find when traveling to different destinations — including choices for vegans and socially conscious shoppers.
“My husband and I like coming across fun and unique things when traveling,” 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 described the merchandise as mainly made-in-Hawaii 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, 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,” detailed Koenig. “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 Hawaii businesses across five islands and looking for more. Find Ocean Raku pottery and earrings from Hawi, greeting cards by Ellamoon Art from Kapaau and nontoxic Kapa Nui Nail products from Waimea. Hailing from Kauai is The Craft of Wandering selection of perfumed oils, candles and soaps and Tiny Isle’s line of mac nut butters. From Oahu 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 Hawaii 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 Hawaii 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,” said Miranda. “All of Hawaii’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 the works at Tasty Kona is a nonprofit 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 Hawaii 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,” added 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 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and looking for employees and vendors. Visit www.tastykona.com or call (808) 430-9233 for details.