Drinking Kava

Drinking Kava in the USA

Drinking Kava in the USA - Kava Bars

Drinking Kava in the USA - Nakava Bar
Nakava kava bar in Florida

Drinking kava in the USA has exploded in popularity in the past 20 years. Prior to this both Pacific islanders and Hawaiians would drink kava at social occasions, but it wasn’t done in a commercial manner.

In the early 2000’s, the first commercial kava bar was opened in Boca Raton in Florida. Called “Nakava”  to it was met with some scepticism. However, as customers warmed to the effects of kava and the social environment at Nakava, word began to spread.

Drinking Kava in the USA - Sovereign Kava
Sovereign Kava Bar in North Carolina​

By 2007 a further 20 kava bars had sprung up throughout the USA. Now in 2022 there are over 180 of them throughout the USA. They can be found across the country, including in Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Hawaii, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Texas, South Carolina, and Washington.

How are Kava bars in the USA different to those in the Pacific?

El Manaro Kava Shop
El Manaro kava bar​

The serving of kava in kava bars in the USA is bound by food safety and relevant hospitality codes from state to state and county to county. This means they are hygienic and the kava is prepared in a standardised food preparation setting.

This contrasts with the Pacific Island kava bars. They are normally small shacks with dirt floors and no regulation regarding preparation technique. Smoking is allowed in most cases and spitting is not uncommon.

Vanuatu vs. the USA.

Kava Bars in the USA and Kratom

Kava Cocktail
Kava Cocktails at a USA Kava Bar​

Many Kava bars in the USA sell kratom as an accompaniment to kava. Kratom is another plant-based substance that has gained popularity in recent years. This is mainly for its ability to reduce anxiety, improve mood and energy levels, and treat pain. Significantly, all this is without causing dangerous side effects like those associated with other prescription medications like Xanax or Valium. Unlike kava, however, kratom does not have any known negative side effects when used responsibly (for example: no hangovers).

Whilst not served together, many kava bars offer kava and kratom cocktails. Kratom has come under some critique from various state legislatures. In the United States, kratom is legal under federal law but each state may have different laws regarding its use or sale. In some states it is illegal to use it recreationally while other states permit its use for medical purposes only (i.e., pain relief). In some cases it may be legal if it is recommended by a doctor for treating pain associated with cancer treatment among other things).

Buying kava powder in the USA

There are literally hundreds of online kava vendors in the USA. The same group behind the nakava kava bar were one of the first with their website. 

Just like the burgeoning kava market in Australia, there are key areas to look for when shopping online for kava. They are:

  1. Always confirm that the packaging of the kava has been done in HACCAP certified conditions.
  2. Make sure that the vendor clearly displays noble kava certification on their website.

The old adage, if the price is low its likely rubbish kava certainly applies.