By Anni Caporuscio

At Holey Grail, you’ll find donuts presented in boxes of fours, a minimalist treat, shareable but not hordable; we aren’t dragons after all. Photo by Anni Caporuscio

On your quest for the Holy of Holeys, search no further than Hanalei, the magical land of rainbows and dragons. A former donut diversity desert, Kaua‘i has been blessed with a precious gift, a chalice of nostalgic good times upgraded to ingredient sourced responsibility: Holey Grail Donuts.

Why donuts? Hana Dreiling, owner and operator, says they are the perfect vessel to relay their message. The message is that is possible and accessible to make a delicious donut — which is itself a delightful treat — from locally sourced, plant-based ingredients. The secret sauce of Holey Grail (I know what you’re thinking) is a taro-based batter mix that they make themselves from locally grown taro and a coconut fry oil, a combination that demanded their machine be specially rigged.

The result is a crisp outer layer and a chewy inside. The crisp outer layer then lends to all sorts of treatment made from local fruits and farm products. Holey Grail makes it a point to partner with local producers for their toppings and add-ons. They even adjust their menu to what is in season. The menu is simple enough to start, and it rotates often enough to keep us guessing. Partner farmers of note include, but are not limited to, Adam Asquith for taro and Lydgate Farms for chocolate.

The most adorable of treats, portable and lovely: a dragonfruit donut atop chocolate mylk. Photo by Anni Caporuscio

Thanks to Hawai‘i’s abundance of tropical fruits, Holey Grail ends up with some crazy beautiful donuts. The Dragonslayer is the deep pink of dragonfruit; tart, sweet and gorgeous. The addition of finger-limes (actual finger shaped citrus) is a little burst of tart citrus. Local lemons infuse the sugar in lemony donuts. Sea salt balances the sweetness to bring a savory bit to our refined pallets. Hana hails from Portland. From there she would use the abundant berries of that region, but Hawai‘i gives her a culinary challenge, twist and satisfaction.

Pair your donut with gourmet coffee, chai and matcha. Hana gets her beans from Coava Coffee, a popular brand from Portland that puts out great coffee. She brews it hot and flash-chills it to bring the nutty, fruity highlights. Then the coffee is served in a nitro tower where it is slightly nitrogenated. Have the iced coffee straight or make it a latte with their housemade nut mylk (yes, I spelled that right) made from cashews and coconuts. The result is cold coffee or tea with a creamy body and full undiluted flavor, plant-based, the perfect complement to a plant-based gourmet donut. There’s also chocolate mylk with a pinch of sea salt for an even heart rate. They are pleasantly not-too-sweet.

Owner Hana Dreiling, right, and staff Kaua and Jen cheerfully present that which we’ve all been searching: the perfect plant-based donut experience. Photo by Anni Caporuscio

Holey Grail originally started as a burger truck with donut specials and a live DJ on Sundays. The response was a small mob of donut eaters who had found the pearl of great price, and the word spread quickly. Hana switched her business to donuts full time with no regrets. Hana’s tip: eat them hot and eat more than one.

Truthfully, there is a craze of hip donut shops in big cities that I have been envying. They make impossible forms of doughy treats, play cool music, make roommates with laundromats and bars and bowling alleys, and do humanitarian things. But our donut shop is tropical, happy, environmentally minded, locally sourced and on our island. When things return to “normal,” look for more creative endeavors socially — think DJ Sundays and patio parties — but until then, enjoy Holey Grail Thursday-Sunday 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Hanalei.

  • Anni Caporuscio is a food, coffee and book lover. She can be found walking her dog Wilson at the Kapa‘a Bike Path, or crushing enemies at the Kapa‘a Hockey Rink during roller derby season.


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