Tuesday June 23, 2015
Ward Village Blog
Courtney Heim knows a thing or two about coffee. At 26 years old, she’s the owner of three (soon to be four) acclaimed Brue Bar cafés in Honolulu. With the espresso bar’s distinction of serving up some of the finest gourmet coffee in the city, it would be easy to expect Courtney to come across as some sort of coffee elitist. And while it’s clear she’s developed an appreciation and understanding of roasts, grinds, and pours, Courtney’s relationship with coffee goes beyond the complexities of taste and digs deeper into the social aspect of the beverage.
“The thing I really love about coffee,” she tells me, “is that it brings people together. It binds us through the highs and the lows of life. It’s what we gather over to tell stories. To talk about the good things and the bad. To me, that’s what makes it so special. It’s more than just the taste.”
Courtney’s appreciation for both the technical and social side of coffee is reflected in Brue Bar’s latest location in Ward Village. In a shared space with the Wedding Café in Ward Warehouse, Brue Bar has built out an aesthetic dripping an urban, San Francisco-style cool. The walls are sleek, yet warm and the aroma of espresso floats through the Kakaako air. Around us, patrons chitchat over fluffy cappuccino’s and doppio shots as dark as the night. “This is what it’s all about,” she says with a slight smile, her head taking in her bustling surroundings. “I love to watch people gathering over good coffee. While we only recently opened up this location in Ward in April in partnership with the Wedding Café, people have already been really receptive to what we’ve done here.”
Over the past 15 years, America’s thirst for gourmet coffee has expanded beyond just Starbucks, Courtney explains. There’s a demand like never before for small-batch artisanal roasts and progressive cafes and coffee enthusiasts like her are taking their coffee game to new heights. Each Brue Bar location features a hand-built Slayer espresso machine, largely considered to be among the finest machines available. “I first developed my taste for coffee while living in Seattle for college,” Courtney says. “I immersed myself and learned everything I could, working as a barista and studied the business side of owning a café as well. You can’t skimp on quality. We take a lot of pride in providing our customers with the best.”
In 2011, Courtney moved home to Honolulu and opened her first Brue Bar location Downtown. The success of the first cafe—which shares a space with her family’s business, HonBlue printing—sparked a desire to expand. In the past few years, she’s grown her line of Brue Bar cafes throughout the city. “I think there’s a lot of demand for what we’re doing. People appreciate that we take the extra steps and all of our baristas are very knowledgeable about the coffee we pour. We try and share our passion with our customers as well. Customer service and communication are paramount in what we do. There’s so much more to coffee than most of us realize. People really want to learn more coffee and we love educating them. That’s just one thing you’ll find at Brue Bar that you might not find at other cafes. So please stop by, try something new, and ask questions. We love it.
BrueBar is located within the Wedding Café at Ward Warehouse and is open from 9 am to 6 pm daily.