At Wai Meli, Honey Goes Au Naturale
All honey is not created equal.
“Having raw honey is now a rarity in big box stores,” says Kawika Sebag, owner and founder of Wai Meli Local Raw Honey. “Over 50 percent of honey that is purchased, imported and bottled in our country is actually what we call ‘funny honey.’”
“There’s good honey out there—you just need to know how to navigate it,” Kawika says optimistically.
That’s where Wai Meli comes in.
Kawika’s holistic approach begins with caring for the bees, which he raises using organic methods at his farm on Hawaiʻi Island. Depending on the season, he’ll take his operation on the road, delivering hives to spots where particular flowers are in bloom.
By doing this, Kawika is able to collect single-varietal honey, with each flavor being wildly different from the next. These taste profiles come from distinctive trees including macadamia nut, kiawe, and the native ʻōhiʻa.
“The beauty of this place is in its flora and fauna. By isolating certain nectar flows, you get these really unique taste profiles, colors and consistencies that come from different species of plants,” he explains
Kawika speaks of honey as a sommelier might differentiate between flavors and pairing options. He describes the dark complexion and rich-yet-soft notes of the macadamia nut honey, which he prefers drizzled over ice cream. The stunning white honey from kiawe blossoms exudes the taste and feel of powdered sugar, he says, noting that it’s perfect topped over yogurt or in green tea. Eucalyptus honey is reminiscent of caramel or butterscotch, and a spoonful is like nature’s candy.
“This variation is what makes honey so special, and it’s fun to share that with people who aren’t familiar with the diversity and seasonality of honey,” Kawika says
“Over the last few years there has been an awakening to what’s happening in our food system, and people are starting to go back to what’s local and pure,” he says. “That isn’t just good for us, it’s good for our communities and the environment.”
Disclaimer: Big Island Coffee Roasters is known to ruin all other coffee experiences.
“We’ve heard it so many times,” laughs co-founder Brandon von Damitz. “People tell us ‘Now that we’ve had your coffee, we can’t drink the coffee we used to.’”