Gypsea Gelato (Kealakekua, Hawaii)

I’ve always been a great fan of gelato, that Italian cousin to ice cream. Most everything I enjoy about a good ice cream is better with gelato, with a smoother texture, and often several more options that are dairy free (damn that lactose intolerance of mine). And I used to have a world-class gelato place, Morano Gelato a short drive from my office. But unfortunately, Morano Gelato had some business difficulties in 2019-20, and then when Covid hit in the Spring of 2020, Morano closed permanently after a 10 year run. So I’m always on the lookout for a good gelato place when I’m traveling, and while we were headed to Teshima’s Fine Foods, we spied Gypsea Gelato and vowed to try them out. A few days later, after touring nearby Greenwell Farms coffee, we had a chance to stop by and check them out.

Gypsea opened in 2014, when the owners, who had been working on commercial fishing and dive boats decided to settle down an open a gelato shop showcasing locally-available ingredients such as Kona coffee and local fruits and herbs like pineapple, mint, and lemongrass that grow well on the Kona coast. They still inhabit their original location in Kealakekua, as well as two additional locations in Kailua-Kona and Waikoloa. Their original location is nice and spacious, with indoor seating and a nice patio out front (and a nice playground in back).

Just inside they’ve got a board with the daily flavors, and as I mentioned above, the focus here is primarily on local ingredients, like lillikoi (passion fruit, including a serrano pepper variant), Kona coffee, Tom Kha (lemongrass), and various coconut flavors. They’ve also got a few flavors for those with a particular sweet tooth (PB and M&Ms, Nerds), lactose-intolerant, and reduced sugar.

Myself, I really liked the sound of Toasted Coconut Haystack, which was basically the combination of a nice coconut ice cream that was topped in the freezer with both toasted coconut and chocolate, the latter breaking up into chips as they scoop it. This was a very rich and flavorful coconut gelato…

…but I didn’t eat it by itself. As soon as I saw they had affogato (gelato topped with a fresh-pulled shot of esspresso), made with locally-sourced Kona coffee, I couldn’t resist. This was a particularly nice combination: a good gelato, good toasted coconut and chocolate notes from the topping, all mixing into a nice and refreshing chilled espresso for a nice coconut-mocha flavor.

I loved Gypsea Gelato. My only regret? Not having enough time to go back and try some of their other interesting flavor combinations. It’s definitely top-notch gelato and worth a stop!

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