Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Tour of Lion Coffee

Have you ever been on a tour of a coffee factory? Neither have I until one sunny afternoon on my most recent visit to the beautiful island of Oahu. And although I've lived here for half my life, I never knew a tour of Hawaii's famous Lion Coffee even existed until I read about it in a guide book I was browsing through in Japan.

As I've always been a huge fan of Kona Coffee, this was a great opportunity to learn something about my favorite coffee brand, as well as what goes on behind the scenes.

On this day, my sister was kind enough to drive us here and as it was her first time as well, she was looking forward to this just as much as I was. After a couple of drives around this primarily industrial area, we finally catch sight of the Lion Coffee sign.

From the outside, it doesn't look like much and it feels as though you aren't really supposed to be there. However once you enter the place, you're immediately greeted by shelves of Lion's offerings, including their signature coffee blends, 100% Kona Coffee as well as their Hawaiian Islands tea selections.

The interior was much more welcoming than the outside, and a rustic sofa in the corner added to the warmth of the place. A cafe serving coffees, teas and snacks was also located on the premises.

Tours are held three times daily ( 1 PM for Japanese and English tours ) and reservations aren't necessary unless you come with a large group. We signed up for the 1:00 PM tour and after 10 minutes of browsing through the store selection, it was time for our tour to begin. 

The first part of the tour is a  history lesson on how the company got started. It was interesting to learn that Lion Coffee is America's oldest major coffee company and was actually born not in Hawaii, but in Toledo, Ohio in 1864. It was in the year 1979, that they decided to relocate to Hawaii to focus on American coffee beans. 

After the brief history lesson, we continue on  to see how the coffee is actually made. The first room contains huge bags of coffee beans getting ready for the next step. Unfortunately I can't recall what these bags actually do. They smelled really good though.

Here is where the coffee beans are being roasted. You could really feel the heat from these roasters but the heavenly aroma wafting through the air was worth it. 

I don't know about you, but this was my first time eating a freshly roasted coffee bean. How did it taste you ask? Well, it was sort of bitter, but had a pleasant nutty flavor and tasted like coffee. 

Lion Coffee is known throughout the world for their flavored coffees. This is where we find out exactly what they use to flavor the them beans. Reading off the names of the various flavors made my mouth water as I envisioned these Hawaiian flavors in desserts.

Serious what do you think? Chocolate Macadamia Nut, Vanilla Macadamia, Toasted Coconut...don't they just bring you visions of sweet and heavenly delight? No? Well I guess that's just me then. Moving on. :)

As we continued on with the tour, I was surprised to find out that they made teas as well. Hawaiian Island Teas have always been one of my favorite brands and it's common knowledge that I keep an ample supply at home at all times of the year. But what I didn't know what that they were made right here at Lion Coffee. Never knew that and never would have guessed it. 

You see, as much as I love coffee I no longer drink much of it. Drinking coffee gives me heart palpitations, so I switched to teas some time ago. I know there's caffeine in most teas, however for some reason, teas don't affect me the way coffee does. Strange isn't it? 

Anyway, getting back to the subject of their Hawaiian Island Teas, they are separated into three categories, Tropical Black Tea, Green Tea and Rooibos Tea. 

The black teas come in a variety of tempting flavors such as Maui Mango, Passion Fruit Na Pali and Strawberry Lychee. My personal favorite is the Guava Ginseng Green Tea, which is delightful with a spoonful of honey in it. It's seriously one of the best teas out there. 

Here's the machine that cranks out the packaging for the various coffees. It's pretty mesmerizing to see it in action and one could probably start at it for days without getting bored. ;)

At this point, we are each given a small bag of coffee and a box of tropical tea ( Lilikoi flavor ) to take home. Yay! I love unexpected surprises like this and although the tour is free of charge, it was nice of them to give us samples. 

Like it sign says, Kona coffee is rare and expensive as it is grown in only one place in the entire world. If you've never had Kona coffee before, I urge you to try it to see how good it is for yourself. No other coffee compares or even comes close to the balance and smoothness of Kona. 

At the end of the tour, we were all invited to sample some of the varieties of their amazing coffees! Obviously our tour guide needed to prepare for his next tour group coming in so we hurriedly thanked our very enthusiastic tour guide and decided it was time to let him go.

If you are a coffee lover or want a change of pace from beaches and surf, the Lion Coffee Factory is a great way to spend a couple of hours learning about one of the best coffees in the world.

Check out this overview of the Lion Coffee Tour on YouTube.

Essential Information

Lion Coffee
Lion Coffee Tours
Purchase Lion Coffee Online
Purchase Hawaiian Island Teas Online

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Are you a fan of Kona coffee? What's your favorite coffee? Or do you prefer tea? Don't forget to let me know you visited. Thanks for reading!


  1. It is so interesting to see inside one of the BIG coffee roasting companies in Hawaii. I visited several small coffee farms/roasters during the 10 years I lived in Kona. Those farms were so quaint compared to this one. Thanks for the tour. It was fun!

  2. Do you know regular black coffee has very low calorie. Every cup of black coffee has only 2 calories. So it is helpful for your dieting. It can burn your fat and make you slim. Best Coffee Brands.


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