Kava is consumed and prepared in various ways throughout the Pacific.
Traditionally it is prepared by either chewing, grinding or pounding the roots of the kava plant.
Grinding is done by hand against a cone-shaped block of dead coral; the hand forms a mortar and the coral a pestle. The ground stump /root is combined with a only a little water, as the fresh root releases moisture during grinding. Pounding is done in a large stone with a small log. The product is then added to cold water and consumed.
The kava drink is an emulsion of kavalactone droplets in starch. The taste is slightly pungent, while the distinctive aroma depends on whether it was prepared from dry or fresh plant, and on the variety. The colour is brown to yellowish
Kava prepared as described above is much more potent than processed kava. Chewing produces the strongest effect because it produces the finest particles. Fresh kava produces a stronger beverage than dry kava. The strength also depends on the species and techniques of cultivation.
In Vanuatu, kava serves a social function. Every day, in the afternoon, the men meet at the 'nakamal', or more recently in town in a kava bar, to drink kava and discuss the day’s events. A strong kava drink is normally followed by a hot meal or tea. The meal traditionally follows some time after the drink so that the psychoactives are absorbed into the bloodstream quicker.
In Papua New Guinea, the locals in Madang province refer to their kava as "waild koniak" ("wild cognac" in English).
Fijians commonly share a drink called grog made by pounding sun-dried kava root into a fine powder, straining and mixing it with cold water. Traditionally, grog is drunk from the shorn half-shell of a coconut, called a bilo. Grog is very popular in Fiji, especially among young men, and often brings people together for storytelling and socializing. Drinking grog for a few hours brings a numbing and relaxing effect to the drinker, grog also numbs the tongue and it is typical that grog drinking be followed by a "chaser" or sweet or spicy snack to follow a bilo
They are now hundreds of kava bars not only in rural and urban areas of Vanuatu, but now also in the neighboring French territory of New Caledonia, in Kiribati, in Solomon..and even more recently in the United States.