LEAHI HEALTH BEVERAGES
3441 Waialae Ave. And 1111 Bishop St. Honolulu
Phone number (808) 388-4181 (Waialae) (808) 548-2062 (Bishop)
When Jason Coleman discovered kombucha tea, he was drinking it so often that he thought he’d try to make it at home.
His roommates went crazy for it.
“I couldn’t stop my one roommate from drinking it,” recalls Coleman, who was a bartender at the time.
Coleman, who now owns Leahi Health Beverages, quickly began to garner quite a following.
“I had people coming over to my house for no other reason than to drink my kombucha,” he says. “That is when I knew I had to start selling — because I didn’t really want people coming over all the time.”
From there, he started selling it to various stores. Soon, he began concocting smoothies with the kombucha.
“It’s got this tangy effervescence. (The kombucha) was making the smoothies even better than apple juice or almond milk,” he says.
Luckily for smoothie fans, Coleman opened Leahi Health Beverages two years ago in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it store-front in Kaimuki next to Island Fresh Produce, where he gathers some of his supplies. More recently, Leahi Health Beverages opened a second shop on Bishop Street.
The stand began with smoothies, but the menu has since expanded to include salads, tacos, rice bowls and sandwiches.
According to Coleman, the King Green smoothie ($5 for 16-ounce; $7 for 20-ounce) is by far the most popular item. It’s chock-full of goods that include ginger, pineapple, lemon, kale, spinach and banana — along with guava ginger kombucha.
“You could wake up with the biggest hangover or just angry or pissed off at the world, and you drink this and it’s just like everything is good again,” he says.
Another popular smooth-ie is the Roots Rock ($5 for 16-ounce; $7 for 20-ounce), which is a blend of kombucha, carrots, beets, ginger, maca roots, orange and banana.
Part of the impetus for Coleman creating Leahi Health Beverages was that he, as a vegetarian since he was 18, felt that there were very few suitable quick options for the health conscious. And while he was bartending, he noticed that type of health consciousness was growing: Over the years, more and more people were ordering salads or incorporating fruits and vegetables into their meals. That’s one thing that’s great about Leahi Health: You can be in and out with a healthy, filling meal in your hands in less than 10 minutes.
These meal options include Pesto Grilled Cheese ($7), which features mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and spinach with a homemade macadamia nut pesto on whole-grain bread.
Coleman’s personal favorite is the Surfer Bowl ($8), which is filled with kale, carrots, green onions, red cabbage, avocado, roasted almonds, cucumbers and furikake — all over brown rice and topped with a homemade ginger tahini dressing.
Most of what you find in Leahi’s food and drinks are sourced locally.
“It’s a smaller footprint, and it helps the local farmers,” Coleman says.
Plus, he wants to help empower others to make healthy food choices and know what they are putting into their bodies.
“Every time I hand someone a Surfer Bowl, I look at them and they are smiling,” he says. “They are happy. And I feel like I am doing something good.”
Leahi Health Beverages is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in Kaimuki; and from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday downtown.