SPECIAL FEATURE: Surfing the Nations

Written by Tasmin Rohman, Surfing the Nations
Photos provided by STN and HNL Flow photographer Reese Kato
Raise your hand if you like coffee. Now raise your hand if you like surfing. Living in Hawaii, it is possible to capture almost the entire populace with an affirmative to one, if not both of these statements. At Surfers Coffee Bar located in Wahiawa, it is easy to indulge in both of these passions. Sipping on a gloriously crafted mocha or decadent French press whilst perusing surfing inspired artwork and paraphernalia, patrons sit and relax in a space infused with the aloha spirit.

Photo: Surfing the Nations

High ceilings, exposed wood and burlap coffee sacks adorning the walls pay architectural homage to the history of this lovingly restored gem of a building. And history it does have, in spades. Soon to be the first stopping point on the Wahiawa Historical Trail, the coffee bar occupies the space of what was formerly the Top Hat Bar, which was struck by Japanese fighter pilots on their way to bomb Pearl Harbor. Nowadays, the coffee bar is still making history as part of its parent organization, Surfing The Nations (STN).

Photo credit: Reese Kato


STN is a non-profit organization founded in 1997 by surf lovers couple Tom and Cindy Bauer. The underlying principle was a basic desire to help those in need that gave birth to the motto “Surfers Giving Back”. This humanitarian approach started in Kalihi in 1998 with a Feeding The Hungry program serving just seven families. Today, FTH provides food to more than three thousand families a week.

Photo credit: Reese Kato


The Fresh Preps performing at Surfers Coffee Bar in Wahiawa. Photo credit: Reese Kato

Since its inception, STN has gone from strength to strength and is staffed entirely by volunteers. More programs have blossomed alongside Feeding The Hungry, such as the Ulu Pono Program, focused on helping local at-risk youth with after school tutoring, arts & crafts and character development. STN’s big project right now is the construction of a Community Outreach & Training Center (COTC), which is set not only to become the base of operations for all current outreach programs, but also allow them to expand their scope of helping those in need.


The Fresh Preps perform at Surfers Coffee Bar. Photo credit: Reese Kato


Anyone wishing to learn more about the work STN does, or donate [to the organization], should visit their website http://www.surfingthenations.com or pop into the Surfers Coffee Bar and talk story with the friendly staff. Drop in on one of their regular music evenings (check FB page for details) and you may even get your caffeine/acai bowl fix whilst grooving away to local favorites. There has never been a more delicious way to help fulfil our shared kuleana (responsibility) towards those less fortunate — coffee and charity seems to have a beautiful future in Wahiawa.


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