Kava Bars are Sweeping Across Florida and the Nation

Kava is a plant from the Pacific Islands and it is currently booming across Florida, and the United States. Across Florida in small cafes and “dry bars” a number of people drink kava to experience less anxiety and to sleep well. There are multiple benefits of kava and Florida residents are singing its praises.

Little towns in Florida are having kava bars pop up such as Inverness, Florida with a population of 8,000 people has 352 Kava Supply and Kava Bar that has opened its doors. Ocala, Gainesville, Tampa, and especially Southern Florida have multiple kava bars.

Kava bars are more a culture than they are a bar centered around kava. When you explore kava bars in Florida you’ll be invited in by the local atmosphere of welcoming people, Buddhist decor, and conversation. The kava bars usually have a group of regulars that are intrinsic to the bar. These locals are friendly, open minded, and want to relax while drinking their root water.

Florida is one of the birthplaces of the ever expanding international kava industry. Kava used to be a domestic affair in the Pacific Islands but it began to be exported to different parts of the world.

Some people describe kava as “nature’s Xanax” and it has been a force to be reckoned with when it comes to sobriety in many of these bars. Many regulars of kava bars have had issues with drinking alcohol in the past and now they’re clean thanks to the benefits of kava. Others say they just like the atmosphere and being able to relax after a hard day’s work.

Patrick McGowan of Gainesville, Florida said when asked why he comes to Mai Kai Kava Bar, “I come here because if I don’t have formal plans with friends I can always come to the bar and there is usually someone I enjoy talking to.” That’s the perspective of many in Florida that frequent the root water euphoria.

In 2018, there were 56 kava bars in Florida. In 2022, there are over 75 kava bars. The kava industry is booming in Florida. The first kava bar to open in the United States was Nakava opening in Boca Raton, Florida in 2000. For the past 22 years kava bars have had a slow and steady rise in popularity in Florida, across the United States, and internationally.

Austin, Texas has Squarerut Kava and many places such as Colorado are opening up kava bars. The kava phenomenon is growing in mostly high density and tourist heavy places such as Texas, Florida, and Colorado.

The first adopters of the kava craze come from the Pacific Islands. The start of kava likely has many roots in the immigration of Pacific Islanders. For instance, KavaGuides.com is run by Amiri Tasi and Natia Koale. Amiri is a Canadian citizen of Samoa descent and Natia studied at University of Florida and is of Fijian descent. The culture of the Pacific Islands is having a big impact on the United States, and often thanks to the melting pot that is American culture.

Pacific Islanders are more than happy to share the love of kava. Many kava bar owners coordinate with their suppliers in the Pacific Islands over phone to arrange shipment and packages for their customer’s consumption. This encourages a strong bond between supplier and owner. Over the years, many of the owners and suppliers have fostered friendships and it is a very inclusive community of kava bar owners that coordinate with their suppliers because everyone wins if they all work together.

Many people have found respite in the culture of kava especially during the COVID times which some have argued was a boon for the kava industry. Despite lockdowns and precautions by kava bar owners, people ventured out and could deal with the problems of society by talking about them with peers at the kava bars. It is this reason that kava bars have had such a boom over the past 4 years going from 56 bars in Florida to over 75 now. The kava industry is here to stay in Florida and will likely become a facet of the American culture in the future as word of mouth spreads and people find the relaxation endemic of kava bars central to their lives in this wild and tipsy turvy world.

Dustin Terry

Dustin Terry

Dustin is a military veteran and loves living in Central Florida! He lives in Central Florida and enjoys cycling, cigars, and working to create a better tomorrow for Central Floridians. Go Gators!
Gainesville, Florida