The story of Kailua Town Coffee Roasters

Believe it or not, Kailua Town Coffee Roasters officially came to be in 2010!

Since then, ownership has changed, but we want to share with you the origins of this local Hawaiian brand and why we are so proud to be a part of the story!

original owner of kailua town roasters
Brad Sultzer, a retired U.S. Coast Guard pilot and his wife Donna, a nurse at a local hospital, were raising their three children here in Kailua, Hawaii.  Having been stationed around the world, they decided Hawaii was the place to be and started living all the great adventures that Oahu offered.  Through his love for a great cup of coffee, Brad began hobby roasting with a 5lb roasting machine in his garage.

As the smell of freshly roasted coffee drifted through the neighborhood, friends began to stop by and kept asking if he had any extra great coffee that they could try....

Brad and Donna set a goal of creating the perfect cup of coffee that could be enjoyed throughout the day without any fillers, such as cream or sugar.  They believed that the perfect cup of coffee would provide so many natural and delicious flavors, that no one would want to add anything else- go figure!

Their local popularity grew and within a year, they had developed three custom coffee blends that are still the backbone of Kailua Town Coffee Roasters:  drip, espresso, and cold brew.  
Soon the demand for their small batch coffee outgrew the 5lb roaster and it was time to take the next big step in coffee roasting.  They went all in and purchased a 25lb San Franciscan Roaster known for its high quality components and artisan quality roasting results.  With this upgrade, it was official- they needed space.
Their friend, and owner of Morning Brew, came to an agreement where they could install the machine inside the Kailua location of Morning Brew Cafe. The collaboration proved fruitful for both businesses:  Morning Brew now had a beautiful local roaster providing fresh beans every week, and Brad and Donna had a place to grow their roasting operation. 

Over the next 10 years, Brad and Donna worked to build the Kailua Town Coffee Roasters brand. They had pallets of green coffee beans in 100-150 lb burlap bags delivered to their house which they wheeled one-by-one to their back ohana unit.  There, they blended the green beans and filled up 25lb bags to bring to their roaster.  Two to three times a week, they drove to Morning Brew at 3am and began a 12-batch roast. The process took 3-4 hours and produced 250 lbs of roasted coffee.  Then, they took the roasted beans back to their ohana unit to pack, seal, and prep for delivery. 
the original roaster
The process certainly was not easy and for a long time they had to turn away customers because they didn't have the time and capacity to bring on additional sales.  During these years, they continued to add more roasting options, ultimately doubling their product options.  With each new blend, there was careful development to ensure that the roasting process was optimized to reveal the unique and complex flavors for coffee drinkers.
After more than a decade of roasting and with kids long out of the house, Brad and Donna decided it was time to retire for real (if there is such a thing for them!) and found some beautiful property on Maui.  In a pleasantly surprising development, and over maybe one too many beers, they came to an agreement to sell Kailua Town Coffee Roasters to their good friend and neighbor, Patrick Williams.

More about Patrick in a future blog, but without the amazing work and origination by Brad and Donna, he wouldn't have this wonderful company to take forward into the future....

Patrick Williams
The Air Force first brought Patrick to Oahu in 2010 on assignment as a fighter pilot in the local squadron.  In the short two years of his assignment, he fell in love with the local area and people.  Born in Salmon, Idaho, the surfing and island life was new in Hawaii, but the love of mountains and wild places was the same.  After completing his active duty time in 2014, he returned to Oahu and joined the Hawaii Air National Guard as an instructor in the 199th fighter squadron.  Soon he found a dream home in a Kailua neighborhood and the first neighbors he met were Brad and Donna Sultzer! 

It wasn't until after about a year that Patrick learned of their coffee roasting expertise.  His favorite discovery was finding that his favorite local cafes and breakfast restaurants used beans roasted by Kailua Town Coffee Roasters!  When he heard that Brad and Donna wanted to sell and move to Maui, he had to ensure that the delicious coffee and great reputation persisted. 

Brad had just recently found warehouse space that would cut out three major logistical moves in the coffee roasting process.  The new space was rough, needed work, but had all the space needed to increase efficiency by 60%.  Now the pallets of green beans could be delivered to the warehouse, blended and weighed, roasted, and then packed.  So, in late 2019, the SF25 roaster was sadly removed from Morning Brew Kailua and set up in the new warehouse in the Aikahi shopping center, where it remains today. 

The history, memories, and great conversations related to the roaster in Morning Brew will never be forgotten.  Although no longer sharing a space, Morning Brew and Kailua Town Coffee Roasters continue to collaborate, develop, and serve wonderful fresh coffee.  

Brad and Donna completed the sale of Kailua Town Coffee Roasters in the fall of 2020.  In the middle of the pandemic, business was rough for the local cafes who were just slowly finding relief from the lockdowns and restrictions.  Patrick took full advantage of the business slow down to learn everything he could about the business, the clients, and of course coffee. 

His number one priority was the quality of the roasted coffee.  Nothing would change for the clients and this directly led to the second priority; ensuring maximum stability for the cafe and restaurant clients in both price and supply. 

Through this trying time, with a detailed business model and Brad still on as a primary consultant, Patrick was able to hold prices down until local economic recovery was well established.  He kept true to the original business premise that everyone should be able to afford a high quality cup of coffee at an affordable price.  He loves that his clientele friends, running their local cafes and restaurants, treat locals the same way. 

Over the next couple years of pandemic recovery and the resurgence of tourism in Hawaii, Patrick and Kailua Town Coffee Roasters have made deliberate efforts to continue to focus on quality roasted coffee for the local community.  They have improved the warehouse space by hiring a local artist and school teacher to paint a full-wall mural, re-vamped the entire warehouse space, and even added a much needed second SF25 roasting machine.  These efforts ensure that KTCR customers will always have reliable quality coffee to serve and enjoy.
However, Patrick hasn't been able to do this alone.  Friends and family have all jumped in to help in important areas needed to carry on the business.  One of the faces often seen is Patrick's head roaster, Mr. Glenn Tunaley. 

Glenn is originally from Australia and married a wonderful American woman named Camryn.  She works on Oahu for NOAA and Glenn worked as a barista at Morning Brew.  This is how he met Brad and Donna.  After watching them roast and tasting their delicious coffee, Glenn began to inquire if they could use any help roasting.  Glenn's persistence paid off and he was soon helping Brad move heavy burlap bags, doing roasts, and packing finished coffee.  With all of the logistical steps, Glenns help was valuable and allowed Brad and Donna to take on a few additional customers.

When they sold KTCR, Patrick asked if Glenn would like to continue his work.  Thankfully, Glenn agreed and after two years of growth, Glenn now has mastered the roasting process.  He and Patrick work together to successfully operate Kailua Town Coffee Roasters and provide weekly fresh coffee deliveries around Oahu. 

With Glenn's barista skills, they have developed a new quality control and tasting program to assess newly roasted coffee each week. They continue to develop new exciting and options with coffees from the local islands and around the world.  Glenn enjoys offering his own blend of coffee at the weekend markets in Kailua. 
Stop by, say aloha, and try some coffee!
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