Restaurant of the Week: Mahalo’s Coffee & Mini Donuts

The story of Mahalo’s Coffee & Mini Donuts begins with a girlfriend and a boyfriend who were obsessed with Hawaiian coffee–and, fortunately, Iowa is too. Today, Mahalo’s is a beloved family-run morning stop in both West Des Moines and Norwalk.

The boyfriend and girlfriend decided to start a business selling the coffee they loved at a kiosk at Jordan Creek Mall. The kiosk sales did so well, they added mini doughnuts to the menu and opened a coffee shop in West Des Moines. A few years later, the boyfriend and girlfriend ended their relationship and were looking to sell the business to someone who would keep it going. One day, the boyfriend ran into an old neighbor, Tron Dandy. Tron was interested in purchasing the business from the boyfriend.

Tron picked up the business with his wife, Courtney, and soon after Tron’s brothers, Jason and Kaleb, invested too. Flash forward a few years later, the family-owned business is doing very well, with locations in West Des Moines and Norwalk and one seasonal pop-up shop up in Okoboji.

Typically, coffee is from Colombia, Vietnam or Brazil, but at Mahalo’s, they only serve 100 percent Hawaiian coffee that they purchase from local coffee plantations throughout Hawaii. This coffee? So good. Though we don’t normally care for regular black coffee, but we loved Mahalo’s Hawaiian black coffee (that’s no cream or sugar, folks!)

Here’s the other thing–because Mahalo’s is a family-run business, they serve their customers like family. This is what sets the Mahalo’s experience apart from any other coffee shop. Regular customers even have their own button within Mahalo’s ordering system–something a chain coffee shop would never do! Plus, after you purchase a coffee or doughnuts from the shop, you’ll hear someone shout, “Mahalo!,” meaning thanks and gratitude. 

Tron and Jason’s favorite aspect about what they do is the customers they get to work with and see every day. Over the past couple of years, they’ve asked each customer where they are from and some have said they made the trip from Minneapolis or Kansas City just for the coffee and doughnuts. Jason says Mahalo’s has sent doughnuts in the mail to customers who live in Florida over the winter. Though he assumes the doughnuts are soggy by the time they arrive, but the customer still raves about them! 

Time to talk about these famous, mouthwatering mini doughnuts, which are the size of a half-dollar coin. Pick two flavors for a six-count; four for a 12-count; or eight for a 24-count (we’d recommend the 24-count to share with a few friends!) Choose flavors like Apple Tiki, Bacon Sunrise, Coconut Cove, Salty Seaside, Turtle Bay, Over the Rainbow and more (our favorites are Cinnamon Lava, S’More Shoreline and Lemon Lani). Each doughnut is crispy, light and fluffy, with great flavor.

If you can’t stop by a shop, consider asking Mahalo’s to run a “live event” with hot and ready doughnuts and coffee or catering for your wedding or event.

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