Hawaii Aina Coffee Shop Opens in Waikiki – Entrepreneur’s Dream Hawaii Life
Hawaii Aina Coffee Shop opened in the Island Colony Condominium building
Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time on Seaside Avenue in Waikiki because I’ve been helping a client with the sale of her condominium home in the Seaside Tower. One of the things I enjoy about my real estate practice is being able to be out and about in all the really cool neighborhoods we have on this island, and Waikiki is one of my favorites.
Part of what makes it such an interesting business is that I get to meet so many different people, and what inspires me is when I meet local entrepreneurs whose businesses add such a special character to neighborhoods like Waikiki. I love to talk to them about their business and what brought them to where they are. They are becoming a rarity as large chain retailers have pushed out almost all of our “mom and pop” businesses.
Rhea Miller flashes a “shaka” sign to show her aloha spirit.
Aloha Spirit at Hawaii Aina Coffee Shop
Enter Rhea Miller, owner of Hawaii Aina Coffee Shop, who last month just opened her location in the Island Colony Condominium building at 445 Seaside Avenue. I stopped by one day for a cup of coffee and was pleasantly surprised to see that she was the new owner that took over the space in the lobby. Her coffee was delicious, and I could tell she put a lot of effort into creating a welcoming ambiance and high-quality product, which led me to ask about her background and her shop. I also couldn’t help but admire her for entering the coffee business, which is so dominated by the big box chains like the Starbucks and Coffee Bean and Tea brands. I expressed to her that I admired her bravery and her chutzpah for going head to head with the big guys. Spending just a few moments with Rhea, I can understand how she managed to be so successful with putting together such a great coffee product and experience.
Rosario “Rhea” Miller came from a background in hospitality, and the story of her tenacity and persistence is truly an inspiring one. She started her journey when she immigrated to the US from the Philippines and landed in Maui. With a degree in hotel and restaurant management, she secured her first job with the Ritz Carlton Kapalua where she worked various positions in Food and Beverage, such as room service and banquets. She worked in that position for several years before moving to the Big Island continuing her work in food and beverage but also forging her first entrepreneurial experience when she started a business with her husband operating a window cleaning company. For many years they ran a successful business with clients such as luxury hotels and owners of multi-million dollar homes in the Kona and Kohala Coast.
Eventually it felt right to move on, so they sold the business and moved to Oahu where she landed jobs at various restaurants including the Ocean House Restaurant at the Outrigger Reef Hotel where she spent eight years honing her skills always enjoying the hospitality and customer service aspect. It was during these restaurant stints on Oahu where she met and started working part-time for an owner of a local coffee shop in downtown and the entrepreneurial bug hit her again. She discussed her idea with the owner about her dream to open her own coffee business and after four tough years of searching for and applying for different commercial spaces and getting turned down numerous times, she talked about almost giving up because she kept losing bids against the big chain coffee companies like Starbucks and Coffee Bean and Tea. Then one day out of the blue, she saw an ad on Craigslist for a space at the Island Colony Building being managed by Aqua Skyline Hotel. On a whim she applied, diligently working on her marketing and business plan and submitting it to the management company. A few days later, much to her delight, she received a phone call from the General Manager of the property inviting her to come in for a meeting. The rest is history, and Hawaii Aina Coffee Shop opened on January 10, 2018.
Committed to supporting local growers with 100% Hawaiian Grown coffee beans
100% Hawaiian Coffee
Not only is the coffee great here, Rhea has made a commitment to serve only 100% Hawaiian coffee at her shop. All of her beans are roasted locally with her former boss who owns a coffee roasting business and she has a full gourmet menu that would please every coffee connoisseur. Here are some of the menu items you can expect: espresso drinks, frappe, smoothies, acai bowls, locally made gelatos, bentos, gourmet style sandwiches and salads, and freshly baked breakfast pastries and desserts from her favorite pastry chef at Cakeworks. She even serves a dessert called “Halo Halo,” a tribute to her native Philippines and a dessert growing in popularity on the island. Rhea loves supporting locally owned businesses and even carries local exotic fruit jams, jelly, and honey. If you’re just craving a quick cup of joe you’re in for a treat with the 100% roasted Hawaiian coffee beans that deliver an exquisite cup that’s up there with all the finest quality gourmet coffee companies.
Stop by and say hello to Rhea who is living her Hawaii Life at her Hawaii Aina Coffee Shop on the lobby level of the building next to the front desk for the Aqua Skyline hotel. The address is 445 Seaside Avenue, phone (808)330-6098.
Freshly baked pastries and desserts from a local bakery, Cakeworks.