Waikiki ice cream shops, or Maui ice cream shops are about as ubiquitous as beach sand. But what those Waikiki ice cream shops and Maui ice cream shops don’t have the Hawaii best dessert and Hawaii best ice cream lists do: Lappert’s Hawaii ice cream.
Hawaii best ice cream list makers know that the Hawaii’s best ice cream label hinges on two important criteria, taste and mouth feel. Make no mistake, Lappert’s Hawaii ice cream has that OMG-I-have-to-mainline-this-stuff-right-now! addictive quality and the just-creamy-enough-without-making-you-slobber mouth feel. But Lappert’s Hawaii ice cream has also an “ohana” (family) and “kama’aina” (old timer) legacy, two intangibles, along with others, that earn it a place of distinction on Hawaii’s best ice cream lists.
We got to take a little spin through the back of the house at Lappert’s Hawaii ice cream’s headquarters and factory in Hanapepe, Hawaii. (It’s no larger than your ordinary ice cream shop, which this one started out as and remains as such.) What captured our attention was this: Lappert’s Hawaii ice cream is doin’ it the way mom and pop did back in the day – about the only significant difference is they’ve eschewed the hand crank in favor of modern electricity.
Judy Lappert, former daughter in-law of company founder, the late Walter Lappert, runs sales and marketing. We spoke with Judy about why Lappert’s Hawaii ice cream still ranks at the top of Hawaii’s best ice cream lists.
LA Splash: You’re big on the “quality comes first” slogan. What practices do you have in place to ensure quality, keep it consistent?
Judy Lappert: We work on the highest quality - thus we make our own cookies, brownies, do our own chocolate covered nuts... We use our own cookie dough for the chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. We even make apple pie to put in apple pie a la mode ice cream. Everything we do is with our eyes on quality first. Also we constantly test new ingredients to make sure we are using the best. Really, everything is made by hand and is tasted constantly.
LAS: Lappert’s Hawaii’s headquarters is in the small Kauai town of Hanapepe. Why not someplace more mainstream like Honolulu?
JL: Quality control - because we work in small batches and are very into food we are constantly tasting and checking on everything. Plus there is more room for creativity.
LAS: What do you do—and love--that no one else does in ice cream?
JL: We make our own ganache and swirl that in several flavors. We did a Mexican Chocolate gelato, roasting poblano peppers and steeping them in cream, and then added it to our dark chocolate gelato base with cayenne and cinnamon - wow!
LAS: Do you make your gelato the real Italian way?
JL: Yes we make our gelato the real way - we pasteurize our own natural base, we do not use any bases. We roast the nuts for flavors such as pistachio and hazelnut and make the pastes.
LAS: What’s up with the buzz about your roasted banana salted caramel gelato?
JL: We use local apple bananas and slow roast them in butter and brown sugar. This is then folded into our plain gelato and swirled with caramel that has Hawaiian sea salt added to it. It tastes just like bananas foster only better.
LAS: Tell us about the Lappert’s Hawaii coffee.
JL: We have our coffee factory about five minutes up the road from our ice cream and gelato factory. We microroast our own coffees using beans from Hawaii and around the world to create delicious coffee blends. The flavored coffees are done with natural oils so they do not have that artificial taste that so many have. We have sent many of our employees to various coffee conventions for training on coffee and espresso presentation. I and one other Lappert’s Hawaii employee are USBCA Certified Barista's, and we have set up a training certification within the company.
LAS: You’re big on family, “ohana.” How is that reflected in the finished products?
JL: We are a small company that is very much a family - many of the people within the company have been here for 10+ years with several over 20 years. It is not just a job, everyone is dedicated to making the best we can - we all love what we do and love what we make.
Lappert’s Hawaii ice cream is served in restaurants throughout the islands, including Roy’s Fusion Cuisine. And on Kauai at The Beach House Restaurant, The Grand Hyatt Resort and Spa, and Josselin’s Tapas Bar and Grill.
The ice cream is also available at Lappert’s Hawaii ice cream shops:
O’ahu: Hilton Hawaiian Village Rainbow Bazaar.
Maui: The Shops at Wailea.
Kauai: The company’s original shop in Hanapepe, located at the factory; Coconut Plantation, Kapaa; Kukui’ula Shopping Village, Poipu; Princeville Shopping Center, Princeville.
The company ships its ice cream overnight to those located on the west coast. For more information visit www.lappertshawaii.com