This weekend was the Grand Opening of Volcano Vapor Cafe in Honolulu. A friend of mine is the manager so my roommate and I went down there to show some support. The place is basically a coffee shop for smokers...sort of. However, since you can't smoke inside, they offer those silly electronic cigarettes the gypsies try to sell at the stands in the mall. Anyway, the cafe has a full coffee bar, big leather couches, free wireless internet, a counter that goes around the entire perimeter windows looking outside, and a big flat screen TV. On Sunday they had the football games playing on the TV and were serving free food, free coffee, and free beer to get people to come in. Not surprisingly, there was a decent showing. Also not surprising, no one was "smoking." It was still a nice environment. It was fairly quiet, but everyone was in there talking and watching the Vikings/Cowboys game while drinking coffee or beer. The snacks were typical Hawaiian dishes. For example, they had Manapua and Dumplings. They also had Malasadas, though, which a Hawaiian dessert.
Malasada is essentially a doughnut dipped in sugar. According to Wikipedia, in 1878, Portuguese laborers from the Madeira (island off the coast of Portugal) came to Hawaii to work in the plantations. These immigrants brought their traditional foods with them, including a fried dough pastry called the "malasada." Today there are numerous bakeries in the Hawaiian islands specializing in malasadas. It was pretty good. It's no more special than any other doughnut, though, and one could actually argue that it has less taste. It tasted a little bland, I think. I recommend trying them and I would definitely eat another one, I just wouldn't tell someone that they absolutely can't come to Hawaii without having one. Malasadas typically don't have any holes or fillings. It is literally a ball of dough dipped in granulated sugar. Apparently, though, some varieties of malasadas are filled with flavored cream or other fillings. Traditionally the reason for making malasadas has been to use up all the lard and sugar in the house before Lent. Malasadas are eaten especially on Mardi Gras - the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.
Back to the Vapor Bar. On one hand, I have to give these guys credit. They entrepreneurs who are taking advantage of the anti-smoking campaigns going on right now and the banning of inside smoking. An electronic cigarette, (also called an e-cigarette or personal vaporizer), is a battery-powered device that provides inhaled doses of nicotine or non-nicotine vaporized solution. It is an alternative to smoked tobacco products. In addition to purported nicotine delivery, this vapor also provides a flavor and physical sensation similar to that of inhaled tobacco smoke, while no smoke or combustion is actually involved in its operation. The idea is that smokers will switch to this new form of smoking that is permitted indoors. "Vaping" as they call it, is an alternative to smoking with less chemicals and carcinogens and no tar. It's an electronic cigarette. You can even get ones with nicotine, so in theory, these could help a person quit smoking by not only providing the nicotine fix, but also addressing the psychological addiction of having something in your hand. So from that perspective, having a coffee shop dedicated to this type of activity might be cool enough. And the cafe is not just for smokers. Like I wrote above, it's a nice environment and the people who work there are very nice and friendly and welcoming. The coffee is pure Hawaiian coffee as well and it tastes great. Also, they have free wireless internet. So it's a nice alternative to Starbucks for those hippies who don't want to support "corporate America" or whatever else it is hippies have a problem with.
Ignore the fact that you're inhaling vaporized nicotine, which is obviously weird and has probably a plethora of unknown health risks. What the hell is vaporized nicotine, anyway? More importantly for me is that I'm still not convinced they're going to get a lot of business. This bar is located on Kapahulu Street across from the Ala Wai Golf Course. For those not familiar with the area, it's not around anything. It is a solid 20 minute walk from Waikiki. You really have to drive. They do have parking underneath the building, but why the hell would anyone drive all the way over to this place to drink coffee and pretend to smoke a cigarette? It doesn't make any sense. I suppose if you're the kind of person who already drives to Starbucks, then you're okay driving to a coffee shop. But changing your coffee-drinking habits just to smoke vaporized nicotine? I'll pass, thank you.