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It seems the Japanese kissaten culture has found its way to Hawaii, sort of. Back in the day, kissatens were a place to get coffee or tea. They were happening spots that eventually evolved into something more specialized – where people went to listen to music or to have business meetings. The original hipsters?
Today, kissatens have seemed to come full circle – focusing strictly on coffees and teas. They can be found throughout most of Japan, and now, there’s a kissaten in Hawaii. The small coffee bar on the skirts of Ala Moana Shopping Center is actually named Kissaten. For a long time, I thought it was a play on words, “kiss-a-ten.” But eventually found out exactly the meaning behind its name. Through a friend, I believe.
Like me, many customers would probably not make the connection to Japan. There are no cultural indications whatsoever – not a flag nor a kanji. It looks like a typical coffee shop to me, with dim lighting, quaint seating areas, spunky hipster music. I kind of wish the owners would have made the meaning behind the name known. But maybe that wasn’t their intention?
Either way, Kissaten is a pretty rad place. There’s an assortment of baked goods, unique breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes and – of course – coffees and teas. The prices are on the higher end, though, because one mocha latte costed me almost $5! But it was a really good mocha, so I can’t really complain, I suppose – being the coffee snob that I am. A good latte is hard to come by!
There seems to be a nice mix of locals and tourists that come through their doors. Most likely because the coffee shop is near Ala Moana Shopping Center and Waikīkī. My sister and her college buddies study there almost everyday! In fact, she was the one who told me about Kissaten and raved about how the shop is 24-hours. Take that, Starbucks!
KISSATEN COFFEE BAR • 88 Piikoi St., Honolulu, Hawaii 96814 • Opens 24 hours, Mon-Sun • www.kissatencafe.com • 808-593-1200