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Kona Kick: Hawaiian-themed shop takes its coffee, sandwiches seriously

You can find the funkiest places on the edge of town. You can find, for example, a Hawaiian-themed coffee-and-sandwich shop with a mildly obscene name and surfboards hanging from the ceiling just north of Albuquerque on U.S. 550 in Bernalillo.

Bad Ass Coffee has been serving Hawaiian-sourced coffee and fresh sandwiches for nearly a decade in a tiny stand-alone shop near the Rio Grande.

Despite the name, chosen more for shock value than on account of a dubious legend involving donkeys, the building is easy to overlook in Bernalillo. It’s sandwiched between a tire shop and an empty field, and aside from a psychedelic mural on the western facade, there is no indication of the Hawaiian surf shack inside.

Once one is inside, it becomes clear that Bad Ass Coffee takes the drink seriously. All its coffee drinks are made entirely or partly from Hawaiian coffee beans. The 100 percent Kona “full city roast” is a powerful cup of coffee, but the rich, intense flavor is more sophisticated and smooth than a typical coffee chain’s. Kona coffee is famous for its pedigree – it’s grown only on the Big Island of Hawaii, the only region in the United States where coffee thrives – and it’s prized for its distinctive flavor.

The Tiki Turkey at Bad Ass Coffee is a traditional thick-sliced turkey sandwich served on slightly sweet Hawaiian bread with a thick slice of cheddar, mixed greens, sliced Roma tomatoes, thin red onions and fresh mayonnaise. (Jason K. Watkins/For the Journal)

It also serves much cheaper, less exotic coffees. Like most coffee shops, it sells large bags of all its beans and ground coffee to take home. (Just be warned: A pound of 100% Kona coffee is priced above $70). It also has a good selection of specialty teas, fresh juices and smoothies.

For the prices, the food is excellent. The menu is small but covers all the sandwich bases and most of the breakfast-food bases. If you’re in a rush, the giant blueberry muffins make a great breakfast or a hearty snack. They’re not too sweet and are loaded with fresh blueberries. Bad Ass Coffee also serves breakfast burritos and assorted pastries, so it’s a perfect stop on your morning commute or quick lunch break.

The Tiki Turkey is a traditional thick-sliced turkey sandwich served on slightly sweet Hawaiian bread with a thick slice of cheddar, mixed greens, sliced Roma tomatoes, thin red onions and fresh mayonnaise. At just over $9, it’s a better sandwich than Jimmy John’s and is considerably better than Subway. It’s served with potato chips and a pickle spear. It makes a great takeout lunch option, and if you’re in a hurry, you can use the drive-through for even faster service. (Ask for double meat if you’re craving protein.)

If you’re not bright-eyed and cheery in the morning, the Polynesian decor and loud murals inside might be a bit much. Service is fast and friendly, and the prices make this funky little coffee and sandwich shop well-worth the drive.

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