For real shave ice, Cafe Kaanapali purifies water before freezing it into the solid block that will be shaved.

Have you been to Cafe Kaanapali yet? If so, we’d love to hear your comments. And stay tuned–they will be introducing some great new features soon.


Real shave ice has finally arrived in Sonoma County. If, like me, you’ve heard this before and are suspicious, let me assure you, it’s the real deal. I heard about it at my Saturday hula classes and as soon as the classes were over, I hopped in my car and headed to Traverso’s, which I typically do anyway.

Cafe Kaanapali is in Fountaingrove Village (at the intersection of Fountaingrove Parkway and Stagecoach Rd.), across the courtyard from Traverso’s Gourmet Foods & Liquors, in the former location of Ecco Caffe. It is about a mile east of Highway 101.

The cafe features a selection of coffees from around the world with more Hawaiian coffees, including two kinds of beans from Moloka’i, than I’ve seen anywhere. The beans are imported by a company in Marin County and are delivered within hours of roasting.

I didn’t try the coffee as it was late in the day (yes, I’m a wimp when it comes to coffee)–I’ll do that some morning soon–and went instead to the main attraction, real shave ice. And sure enough, there was a round block of ice inside an electric shaver. Other “shave ice” that I’ve had on the mainland is merely finely crushed cubes. It will do in a pinch, when it’s hot or when you’re craving a trip to the islands, but it’s not the real thing and it will give you a painful brain freeze after just a couple of bites. A true and properly made shave ice rarely triggers a brain freeze. The menu claims “all flavors” and when I asked for root beer, I was not disappointed. Ahhhh, it was delicious. Life just got a little bit better.

Root beer shave ice at Cafe Kaanapali. What looks like a straw is actually a straw/spoon combo. In a perfectly made shave ice, syrup doesn't not pool in the bottom of the container.

In addition to all manner of coffee drinks, Cafe Kaanapali also has Italian sodas, tea, cookies and pastries from a nearby bakery, an ATM machine, a high-definition TV and outside seating with heaters. Stephen Shipley, who is vice president of operations at North American Health Care, Inc., has opened Cafe Kaanapali to fulfill a longtime dream. His daughters, each with a plumeria tucked behind an ear, were helping out on opening day. Stephen hopes to keep the cafe open nightly until 9 p.m., a challenge in Sonoma County. Hosting Hawaiian musicians could help, as Bad Ass Coffee discontinued their Friday night music and hula and there’s no regular venue for island tunes. Maybe they’ll add an evening awa bar, too. One can hope.

Cookies shaped like hibiscus flowers on opening day at Cafe Kaanapali

Saturday was the cafe’s opening day and it was a quiet debut, as all such debuts should be.  A place has to get its sea legs before it invites the masses. Look for a grand opening in about a month.