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“Maui Coffee and the Long and Winding Roads to the Island’s Best Banana Bread”photo

There’s something magical that happens when the rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee mingles with the sweet scent of Maui’s morning air. Throw in some just-baked banana bread and a secluded lanai overlooking the Pacific Ocean and it really is the best part of waking up. 

A BRIEF HISTORY OF HAWAII’S COFFEE

Although coffee is not native to the Hawaiian Islands, the islands’ climate and topography are ideal, providing the perfect conditions to grow some of the richest coffee in the world: rich soil, proper elevation (between 500 and 3000 ft.), sunshine, afternoon cloud cover, occasional rain and a moderate slope for optimal drainage. 

Hawaii’s original coffee trees, grown from plants brought to Oahu from Brazil in the early 1800’s, were later introduced to the other islands, including Maui.  Today, on the slopes of the West Maui Mountains, sits a 500-acre coffee farm, watered naturally from the West Maui Mountain streams, where the coffee beans are roasted daily and sold under the Maui Coffee Company label.  (Coffee makes a great gift!)

Maui Coffee Farm

Famous for its long and winding roads, Maui has sprouted a collection of roadside businesses where local families sell the perfect companion to the island brew - homemade banana bread. Day-tripping tourists, happy for the chance to pull over and gather their nerves before heading out again on the picturesque yet harrowing roadways, share their opinions of which ones are their favorites all over the travel websites.

Maybe it’s because some of the recipes use apple bananas, a shorter but fatter banana that grows in abundance on Maui with a sweet apple/strawberry hint, but from my own personal experience, you really can’t go wrong with any of these pit-stop purchases. 

Those adventurous enough to travel the sometimes one-lane Kahekili Highway around the back side of the West Maui Mountains to the tiny town of Kahakuloa can stop by the lime green tree house and try some of Julia’s banana bread.   The road may be a bit scary in places, but the views all along the way are magnificent and the banana bread is warm and delicious.

Julia Banana Bread Kahakuloa, Maui
Julia's niece Moana welcomed us with aloha and a great smile!

Traveling the famous Road to Hana on the other side of the island, you’ll find several more stops including the two most popular stands: Aunty Sandy’s on the Keanae Peninsula (Follow the signs down to this tiny community. It is well worth the side trip.), and the Halfway to Hana stand on the main road. If banana bread isn’t your thing, a little further out on the Keanae Peninsula you’ll find Rayna’s Mango Bread – also delicious!

Aunty Sandy's Banana Bread in Keanae
Aunty Sandy's Banana Bread in Keanae, Maui

Halfway to Hana
29 years of banana bread at the Halfway to Hana stand.

Rayna's Mango Bread, Keanae, Maui
Rayna and her son Keanu at their mango bread and coconut candy stand in Keanae, Maui. The tropical ice is also refreshing and delicious!

The Famous Road to Hana
The famous Road to Hana

 Beautiful Keanae Peninsula, Maui 
Beautiful Keanae Peninsula, Maui

After two days of tasting our way around Maui's spectacular coastline, the debate continues: Who has the best banana bread on the island? We can't say because of all the ones we tried, they all got a vote! But remember, you’re on island time! So slow down and smell the banana bread and visit as many stands as you can. Talk story with the beautiful people of Maui and experience the true aloha of these local families. It’s all part of the charm that makes this enchanting island so very special. 

On a side note, when driving along these twisting roads, remember to show aloha and pull over to let the locals pass. 

 Coffee and banana bread on Maui

Banana Bread Recipe:  
Although not the actual recipe from any of the stands we visited, it’s a tried-and-true one all the same. Enjoy!

• 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1 tsp. baking powder
• 1/4 tsp. baking soda
• 1/4 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
• 2 large eggs
• 1/2 cup melted butter
• 3-4 ripe bananas, mashed (1 ½ cups)
• 1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350

In mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and set aside. 

In a separate bowl combine mashed bananas, beaten eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. 

Combine by lightly folding wet ingredients into dry ingredients until mixed.  Batter should be thick and chunky. 

Scrape batter into greased 9x5 loaf pan and bake about 55 minutes.  Bread is done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.




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