By Dagny Brand

“Grok,” a word founder and owner Dr. Shawn Steiman discovered in Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, briefly means to understand in fullness or in every aspect. Grok Coffee offers a longer explanation on their website, along with their connection to the word:  “We strive to grok coffee and facilitate the grokking of coffee by people like you.” Offering locally sourced coffee beans in reusable jars and educational opportunities surrounding coffee, Grok Coffee contributes economically, environmentally, and intellectually to the local community. “Our mission is to support the Hawaii coffee community, provide coffee knowledge and experiences to interested people, and promote sustainable living,” Steiman explained.

Grok Coffee makes buying Hawaii grown, world, and decaf coffee easy by offering coffee beans by the ounce, all sourced from local roasters and farmers. “Buying local is a big deal to me and my family,” Steiman said. Grok Coffee recognizes the expense yet importance of buying local and works to make it more accessible. The company buys coffee beans in bulk and repackages them in reusable jars for consumers to enjoy. “Repackaging in jars is a win for everyone: customers order exactly how much they want, it costs them less than buying directly from roasters, and they generate no waste from packaging at home.”

Consumers are able to order by the ounce at the frequency they desire or to set up a subscription, if they prefer, and new coffees are available each week. Steiman enjoys all the coffees he offers and vettes each one as an international coffee expert. Repackaging in jars also helps our local roasters and farmers. “Roasters and farmers get a distributor who is transparent about their brand, and they are introduced to customers they’ll probably never otherwise come across.” Steiman added that he is always looking for new farmers and roasters to work with!

As a company, Grok Coffee strives to be zero waste and helps work toward a sustainable future with the jars that their coffee beans are packaged in. “The beauty of my jars is that they are plastic-free, nearly zero waste, and are largely reusable,” mentioned Steiman. This environmentally conscious action reduces coffee bag waste by over 47%. After receiving their coffee, consumers can return their jars to Grok Coffee so they can be sanitized and reused. In addition to coffee beans, Grok Coffee sells the basic gear needed for brewing and Steiman’s informative books about coffee.

On a mission to enrich the community, Grok Coffee offers educational opportunities, supported by Steiman’s expertise and degrees in Horticulture and Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences. Though delayed by the pandemic, Grok Coffee is beginning to offer events and tours. Events include tastings and seminars that are catered to the desires of the consumer and can be hosted anywhere. Steiman will also begin to offer tours to the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center’s coffee research site as a “seed-to-cup experience,” and tours will eventually branch out to inter-island tours. “The importance of education is to help folks understand our local industry, its challenges, and its strengths. This creates a sense of community and appreciation for what is in one’s own backyard,” said Steiman, who hopes to inspire more people to engage in the coffee industry and buy local. 

“Grok Coffee is serious about guiding people to the right coffee, not telling them what the right coffee is,” Steiman explained. To ensure people have the opportunity to explore coffee, Grok Coffee offers free pick up at the Kaka’ako Farmers’ Market and Grok Coffee HQ, as well as $2 pick-up in Kalihi, Kailua, and Waialua and $7 delivery between Moanalua and Hanauma Bay. For more information about Grok Coffee, click here.