Collab Café to celebrate community with ‘One Year Birthday Bash’ next weekend

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Community and crew members of Collab Café, including Ben Fitt (holding daughter Ruby), Miguel Magaña (in orange) and Fitt’s partner Amy Jindra (far right). Taken Mar. 27, 2024. Photo Credit: Scott Yunker/Kaua‘i Now

Many Kaua‘i farmers, food makers and foodies will have reason to celebrate next weekend, when Collab Café throws a “One Year Birthday Bash” on April 6.

The always-bustling Kapa‘a eatery is more than a popular breakfast and brunch spot. Its three owner-operators spent 2023 establishing Collab Café as a culinary community hub, where local food producers (including themselves) can prepare their wares in a space that also hosts events, workshops and live music.

Collab Café’s neighborly business model rapidly struck a chord with locals, who make up the vast majority of its clientele, according to café co-owner Ben Fitt.

“Community has been really huge. Even within the first few months, we had built a regular crowd, which surprised me that it happened so quickly,” he said, turning to point out various customers by name. “I think people saw what we were doing and it resonated with them.”

The English-born Fitt is the guru behind Outpost Coffee, a small business involved in all aspects of the local coffee trade. In addition to growing and roasting his own beans on Kaua‘i, Fitt markets other small farms’ harvests from elsewhere in the Hawaiian archipelago, while also running a coffee bar at Hanalei Market on the North Shore.


Collab Café came into being when Fitt – searching for a space to operate his massive coffee roaster – discovered an empty storefront in Waipouli Town Center, a half-empty shopping plaza best known as the former location of a Foodland grocery store.

  • Diners enjoy a salad at Collab Café. Photo Courtesy: Mal Frank
  • A cup of Rainbow Road non-dairy soft serve. Taken Mar. 27, 2024. Photo Credit: Scott Yunker/Kaua‘i Now
  • Caesar salad at Collab Café. Photo Courtesy: Mal Frank
  • Collab Café’s avocado toast comes with cucumber, pickled onion, seeds and sprouts. Photo Courtesy: Mal Frank

Realizing the property was too big for his own needs, Fitt reached out to his friends Miguel Magaña and Emily Olson of Rainbow Road Ice Cream, who were also in need of a new production facility. A three-way partnership was born; the trio spent 2022 renovating their new shared headquarters before opening to the public as Collab Café in early 2023.

Fitt, naturally, helms drinks at Collab Café. He can often be seen in the role of barista, or monitoring the roaster through which all beans sold under the Outpost Coffee label must pass. The large device – which Fitt describes as part washing machine, part oven – is on full display to all who enter the café.

“A production space was our initial goal, and then we’re like, ‘OK, how do we work a café around the equipment?’” Fitt explained while seated beside a sea-green espresso machine.

Sea green can be found throughout Collab Café. According to his business partners, the color scheme is Fitt’s homage to guitars played by members of the pop-punk band Blink-182.


“The whole idea was to break down that barrier – to say, ‘We’re going to make stuff here. This is a makerspace. But we’re also inviting you guys to see what we’re doing, as well,’” Fitt continued, unaware his rock star fandom had been revealed. “We wanted to say, ‘Not only can you have a toast or a cup of coffee and stuff like that, you can also grab a locally-made loaf of bread or a little bag of coffee.’”

  • Collab Café’s sea-green appliances and decor are inspired by instruments played by Blink-182’s Tom DeLonge (pictured) and Mark Hoppus. Photo Courtesy: Emily Olson
  • The sea-green espresso machine and surrounding decor pay homage to guitars played by members of Blink-182. Taken Mar. 27, 2024. Photo Credit: Scott Yunker/Kaua‘i Now
  • The Outpost Coffee roaster is on full display, reminding café customers the space is also a full-time production center for local food products. Taken Mar. 27, 2024. Photo Credit: Scott Yunker/Kaua‘i Now

As the chef behind Rainbow Road’s non-dairy ice creams and its wholesale DBA Hola Aloha Bakeshop, Magaña is in charge of Collab Café’s food and ice cream menus. The former boasts a variety of toasts loaded with local toppings like tangelo and honey, avocado and cucumber, macadamia nut pesto and more. Brunch specials – like breakfast sandwiches, macadamia nut caesar salad, taro and sweet potato hash and huevos rancheros – are frequently available as well.

Magaña was born in Los Angeles and raised in El Salvador before embarking on a culinary journey that took him to a Michelin-star restaurant in Pasadena, California, before he relocated to Kaua‘i in 2009. Four years later, in 2013, Magaña flew to Penn State to enroll in the university’s prestigious Ice Cream Short Course. The historic program – offered since 1892 – counts representatives of Baskin-Robbins, Ben and Jerry’s, Good Humor-Breyers and Hershey among its graduates.

“I come back to Kaua‘i and I buy an ice cream maker before I even buy a car on this island. That’s how expensive an ice cream maker is,” Magaña said. “I just started making ice cream for laughs, really, and then the bread kicked in shortly thereafter.”

Magaña eventually formed Rainbow Road Ice Cream with Olson in 2019. Olson – a Maryland native whose life “kept taking [her] further west” until she arrived on Kaua‘i by way of Australia – has built a career as an entrepreneur dedicated to regenerative agriculture.


Fitt and Magaña describe Olson as “the visionary” responsible for making Collab Café a success.

  • From left: Emily Olson and Miguel Magaña of Rainbow Road Ice Cream and Hola Aloha Bakeshop, and Ben Fitt of Outpost Coffee. Photo Courtesy: Tim Hennessy
  • Collab Café has brought new life to a Kapa‘a shopping center dominated by an empty Foodland grocery store. Taken Mar. 27, 2024. Photo Credit: Scott Yunker/Kaua‘i Now
  • Collab Café is a frequent live music venue. Photo Courtesy: Mal Frank
  • A customer places an order at Collab Café. Taken Mar. 27, 2024. Photo Credit: Scott Yunker/Kaua‘i Now

“Our connection to the ʻāina and how we take care of it, how we take care of ourselves – you have to start there and not skip that order of first taking care of what’s under your feet,” Olson said. “In the Hawaiian way, if you take care of ʻāina, ʻāina will take care of you, and then once you can take care of yourself, then you can start taking care of those around you.

“I think this café is a reflection of that evolution of starting with the soil to [become] a community space,” she continued. “How do we take care of our community here first, before we can take care of anyone that visits here? That’s really something that’s huge for us – how do you nourish the community that’s here … from the farmers to our customers to the musicians, paying them well and building a local economy?”

To that end, Collab Café has opened its doors and certified commercial kitchen to other small food businesses on Kaua‘i. These include an importer of rare Japanese teas and Little Fatties, a food cart known for its tacos and sorbet.

(Access to a Department of Health-certified commercial kitchen is critical for most small-scale food operations, but they can be hard to come by on the Garden Isle. Local nonprofit Mālama Kaua‘i recently made headlines when it partnered with the Moloa‘a Irrigation Cooperative to open a $3.2 million shared commercial kitchen space for North Shore farmers.)

Speaking of Little Fatties, they plan to serve up tacos at Collab Café’s April 6 birthday bash. At the event, Magaña and Olson will also provide ice cream and pupusas – an El Salvador dish Magaña likens to a stuffed tortilla – while Fitt prepares a variety of craft mocktails.

Live music will be provided by The Pheromones, who performed at Collab Café’s opening celebration one year ago.

“It’s come full circle,” Fitt said.

Collab Café’s One Year Birthday Bash will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. on April 6 in Waipouli Plaza on Kūhiō Highway in Kapa‘a.

Collab Café is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends. For more information about Collab Café, including upcoming community events and workshops, visit its website here. You can also follow the business on Instagram.

Scott Yunker
Scott Yunker is a journalist living on Kauaʻi. His work for community newspapers has earned him awards and inclusion in the 2020 anthology "Corona City: Voices from an Epicenter."
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