By Jordan Houston | April 8, 2022
Tap into your inner “badass” with a cup o’ joe from Downtown Phoenix’s newest Hawaiian-inspired coffee shop.
Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii, in the midst of a major national expansion, opened its 22nd location earlier this year at CityScape, 50 W. Jefferson, Suite 170. The shop, specializing in 100% Kona coffee, brings the tropical tastes, sights and aromas of island living here to the desert heat.
The Phoenix franchise, owned by local business owner Aaron Rutter, celebrated its market entry in January with a grand opening. Guests indulged in samples of various menu items. Merchandise, such as Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii mugs, shirts, lanyards and tote bags, were also distributed as prizes.
The company’s allure extends even beyond its tasty products, according to Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii CEO Scott Snyder. It’s all about the brand experience as a whole.
“I think it’s really kind of an experiential brand, so when you walk in the door it doesn’t look like your typical coffee shop,” Snyder tells The Entertainer! Magazine. “It looks laid-back because you’ve got some pretty cool music playing. It’s a little Hawaii, and it’s a little surfer beach. It’s relaxing, and I think that it appeals to a really broad audience.
“If you’ve never been to Hawaii, it’s a nice little escape,” he adds. “It’s a great place to chill out and relax. It’s a warm and colorful environment.”
Bad Ass Coffee offers other international premium coffees and teas — but 100% Kona coffee is the name of its game.
Grown on the mountain slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa volcanoes, coffee from the Kona Region of Hawaii “develops its signature taste from tropical sun-drenched mornings and misty afternoons,” the Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii website reads. The final product, known as the “King of Hawaiian Coffee,” is a delicate, medium-bodied and slightly acidic beverage with a rich aroma.
The shop’s full beverage menu, in addition to the premium coffees, spans signature lattes, cold brew, blended espresso drinks and teas.
Its tropical fusion is as equally prevalent throughout its food menu.
Bad Ass Coffee serves Hawaiian-themed breakfast, lunch and an all-day menu. Popular dishes include “The Aloha Sandwich,” which is crafted with ham, egg, Swiss, pineapple and sweet barbecue sauce served on King’s Hawaiian Bread.
“We have a lot of other people that come in and say, ‘Wow, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen or experienced,’ I think that’s what we’re really going for,” Snyder shares. “I think in the world of coffee the space is kind of crowded. There are a lot of players. What we bring to the party is, No. 1, a great name that gets you in the door. Everybody says they have quality coffee, but I think ours is quality you can taste.”
Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii was born in 1989 on the Big Island of Hawaii.
The name was inspired by the donkeys of Kona, according to its website, which carried loads of coffee beans down the island’s mountains.
“The people of Kona named these hard-working donkeys the ‘Bad Ass Ones’ because of their reliably strong, but stubborn nature in carrying their precious cargo,” the site reads.
Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii became a franchise brand in 1995 and was acquired in 2019 by Colorado-based Royal Aloha Coffee Company.
Snyder, who first worked with the brand as a consultant, attributes its burgeoning success to three elements: a unique in-store experience, disruptive brand identity and quality coffee products.
“What struck me was this brand is so memorable. I was shocked to see what kind of brand recognition it had with people who had either experienced the brand once in their lives, or saw the store on their honeymoon in Hawaii, or had a family vacation destination in Florida,” he recalls.
“It was funny, because even when I was asked to consult, I was like, ‘I know this brand,’ and it struck me,” Snyder continues. “It was about 25 years prior I had gotten a cup of Badass Coffee at a kiosk at a resort in Hawaii.”
The company has since re-launched the national brand with a new logo, packaging and restaurant design.
It has added more franchisees, opened new markets, expanded online sales and established a wholesale operation as part of an aggressive five-year expansion plan — including the blueprints for more Phoenix and Scottsdale locations.
“We didn’t really pick Phoenix; Phoenix picked us,” Snyder explains. “During my time as a consultant for this brand, Arizona has had one of the higher per capita numbers of tourists to Hawaii. So, there is a connection there between Arizona and Hawaii. We knew we had good brand recognition, and we were looking for a good partner.”
Bad Ass Coffees are available in franchise stores and online. Coffee connoisseurs will also soon be able to purchase the goods through grocery, hospitality and specialty retail channels, Snyder adds.
For more information about Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii and its products, visit badasscoffee.com.