What’s going on with coffee and cacao

June 11, 2019 by Ann Tuomela1

Aloha! E Komo Mai (Welcome) back for more Educational Fun From Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours at Kupa’a Farms, we will show you what’s going on with coffee and cacao.

What’s going on with coffee and cacao

To recap from the last update… what’s going on with coffee and chocolate. We covered the similarities of growing regions, plants, cultivating, harvesting, fermentating and drying between coffee and cacao. All of this is very broad stroke, as there are books with chapters on each subject, so we plan to give you meaningful information in a nutshell. For those of you who are familiar with the “Readers’ Digest” version, you are dating yourselves…again, humor must play a role in these fun and educational pieces.

Continuing on with Coffee and Chocolate Talk

This  update we are continuing on with coffee and chocolate and the final processes of roasting coffee and chocolate. We will wrap it up with the making of chocolate. The making of chocolate has almost as many steps, if not more, as the harvesting and fermenting of cacao.

One may have wondered from the previous article, how long does it take for either coffee or cacao trees to start producing. Again, because we are the “north pole” of the 20/20 latitude belt, it is usually 4 – 5 years for a tree, both coffee and cacao, to start producing fruit.

First There is Cacao (Ca – Cow) and Then There is Cocoa (Co – Co)

Another significant difference between coffee and chocolate. Coffee, the name only changes once. The fruit of coffee is referred as to the coffee cherry. Once it is pulped and soaked in water (fementing…killing the seed), they are referred to as coffee beans  through out the drying and roasting processes. With chocolate, the name changes 3 times! We refer to cacao (ca – cow) which is the raw fruit. Then we ferment the cacao seeds aka “killing” the seed, drying and roasting the name changes  to cocoa (co – co).

Roasting Cocao vs Roasting Coffee

Cocao is roasted at a much lower temperature at 250 degrees, anywhere from 18 – 30 minutes, similar time for coffee depending if you want a light, medium or dark roast. Aromas….BIG difference! Some people may love the smell of coffee roasting. This author finds it a tad unpleasant…kind of like burnt molasses. Cocao beans roasting smells very much like brownies baking….super yum!

From Coffee Roasting to Your Cup of Coffee

After roasting coffee, the entire production process is almost complete. Coffee is roasted at a temperature of 450 degrees with time dictating a light, medium, or dark roast. The darker the roast the less caffine. Coffee beans are bagged after the brief fermentation and drying processes. Just like cocoa beans, they are shipped anywhere in the world to be roasted.

Here on Maui, Oma Coffee is probably the largest coffee roaster. They roast for Kupa’a Farms and many other Maui coffee farms. They also specialize in house blends for restaurants like Kihei Caffe and some of Maui’s hotels. This is similar to what Kupa’a Farms does in milling, same as winnowing, removing the parchment from the coffee bean after the drying process, for many Maui coffee growers as well. The consumer or retail coffee house determines the outcome for each cup. At home there is a plethora of choices in which manner you can procure your coffee. Let’s save that for another coffee talk!

There are some Maui retail coffee houses, such as Akamai Coffee, who specialize in Maui grown coffee that they roast themselves. What an art! Especially with all the ways a cup of coffee may be ordered. They do a truly great job, and each cup is served up with loads of aloha!

Steps from Cocoa Bean to Chocolate Bar

The Crankenstein

After cracking the cocoa beans with a “crankenstein” and winnowing the shells from the beans,  we get cocao nibs. Yes, Crankenstein is the real name of this tool that basically cracks your beans releasing the shells from the beans. It is a large funnel attached to 3 knurled agurs with gears and a crank handle. It has a hole where the handle attaches, so a power drill can fit to process large quantities of roasted beans. Please see the photos of assembling a Crankenstein below.


Winnowing basically separates the nibs from the lighter shells. We are pretty high tech and innovative here at Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours. We use a shallow bowl with a hand held hair dryer. Looks like we pan for chocolate!

The next steps include: releasing the cocoa butter. We use a meat grinder to release the cocoa butter. Depending on the type of bean, it can take 3 – 4 times to get the chocolate “spaghetti”, the desired consistency, we are looking for.

Getting Closer to Being a Chocolate Bar

The last two steps are: Conching the chocolate in a melanger for 48-72 hours, tempering the liquid chocolate, and finally you pour into bars.  Kind of amazing! Hands on you will taste and demonstrate most of this transformation, except for the conching and tempering. You’d be with us for days to experience that!  For that adventure in chocolate we would need to charge quite a bit more! Remember the blossom to bar tour is approximately 2 – 2.5 hours!

Barista Appreciation

Coffee, in my opinion, seems a lot less complicated, but for the coffee aficinado I may be making it seem less. Everyday when I learn something new about coffee, and the coffee buzz gets greater! One job I have never had is being a coffee barista. This is a job which I have a great admiration for, as the barista creates the final coffee product with the perfect cup of coffee executed for each customer’s complicated request, topping it with creative foam art so deemed.

Aspiring to be a Chocolate Maker!

Another job I’ve never held is being a chocolate maker. Trust me, that is on the horizon very soon.  As we keep gathering our fermented and dried cocoa beans, we are getting closer to our first batch of Kupa’a Estate chocolate! So, please stay tuned for these riveting devolpments…As the chocolate bar unwraps!

A hui hou! (until next time!) We will continue to keep rocking chocolate and coffee with aloha all day long ~

Your dedicated chocolate and coffee team at Maui Chocolate & Coffee Tours at Kupa’a Farms

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