Chocolate Makers in Hawaii

July 18, 2019 by Ann Tuomela0

Cacao Farms and Chocolate Makers in Hawaii

This blog will explore chocolate makers in Hawaii and Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours and Kupa’a Farms aspiring to be chocolate makers. What entails being a chocolate maker?  The chocolate maker inspects the roasted beans, cracks, winnows, conchs and or refines, tempers, and lastly pours into molds. Basically, in a cocoa bean shell, the chocolate maker converts the cocoa bean into a chocolate bar or a couverture chocolate (non tempered bulk chocolate).

Chocolate makers in Hawaii

Most chocolate makers, even in Hawaii, purchase their beans from around the world, due to cacao doesn’t grow in their neck of the woods. In Hawaii there simply isn’t enough cacao to fill the public’s voracious  appetite for chocolate. Additionally, the chocolate growers and producers are making award winning chocolate which fuels demand.  Through out the state there are only approximately 200 acres of cacao for production. We are very excited tohave the opportunity in making chocolate from Kupa’a Estate cocoa beans in the budding cacao future.

Cacao Farms and Chocolate Makers on Maui

On Maui there are 2 primary chocolate makers.  Hana Gold has been growing cacao in the jungles of Hana since 1978. Maui Ku’ia in Lahaina, with their orchards located on the slopes of the majestic West Maui mountains, is coming very soon. This farm currently have 20 acres planted with cacao trees that are currently producing fruit. There is an additional 40 acres waiting to be planted. Kui’a is projected to be the largest chocolate production facility in the state of Hawaii and are hoping to have the production facility open by August or September, 2019. Maui may have the most “hobby growers”, those who have one to three trees.

Cacao Farms and Chocolate Makers on the Big Island

Through out the state of Hawaii there are still probably less than a dozen chocolate makers! Big Island has the most cacao farms and chocolate producers. In Kona there are 2 farms with tours:  Original Hawaii Chocolate Factory  on the slopes of Hualalai and Kuaiwi Farms which is known for their Kona coffee first…sound familiar?!

On the Hilo side there are 5: Mauna Kea CacaoHonoka’a Chocolate Co.  Hilo Sharks Cacao Farm , Lavaloha/Mahilani Estates Cacao Farm Tour,Hawaiian Crown Farm and Factory Tour

Puna Chocolate Company, which some of their orchards were unfortunate victims to Madam Pele last year. They actually have their chocolate produced in Illinois where they also have a farm growing grapes for their production facility for domestic balsalmic vinegar. Pretty cool stuff! Puna Chocolate Company actually has 3 retail locations, 2 on the Big Island and one in Illinois where they make the chocolate.

These farms are all well established and have been growing cacao for 30 plus years, so Maui is  relatively new to the cacao and chocolate scene. So again, it demonstrates how new Kupa’a Farms is in joining this exciting and exploding arena! Oops…that was “punny” considering we were just talking about the Big Island!

Cacao Farms and Chocolate Makers on Oahu

The major chocolate makers on Oahu include: Madre Chocolate, Manoa Chocolate, Nine Fine Mynahs (producing on their own soon and currently made by Madre), and Waialua Estate owned by Dole. They were the first to start diversiving one of Hawaiian agricultural products, pineapple, to cacao in 1997. They started out by having their couverture chocolate made by Guittard in San Francisco.

Cacao Farms and Chocolate Makers on Kauai

Lydgate Farms in Kupa’a and Garden Island Chocolate in Kilauea are the two main cacao growers and producers on Kauai. All of these chocolates are still very limited to purchase. They are primarily found only on the farms and sometimes local farmers markets.

Working on a Farm as a Tour Guide turns into chocolate maker

Working as a tour guide on the farm has been constantly evolving just as the plants and trees in the ground change with seasons and growth periods. The symbiotic relationship between the farm owners, Gerry Ross, Janet Simpson, and Judy Simpson and Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours will keep evolving as the fruits of the crops become mature to transform into the final product, ie, cacao fruit  will be transformed from seed to bean, and now there are beans ready to be made into chocolate.

Last Blog

we covered the similarities and differences between coffee and chocolate in respect to cultivating, growing regions, production and consumption. Kupa’a Farm has been producing award winning coffee for several years. Now they want to explore chocolate making.  I am fortunate enough to be part of this new adventure!

Kupa’a Estate Chocolate Coming Soon

Gerry, the cacao grower, fermenter, and dryer has almost completed this summer’s harvest of cacao. Over the months he has experimented with different yeasts on each batch of seeds fermenting. The average batch of seeds comes from approximately 20 -25 pods with each pod containing 20 – 30 seeds and lushious fruity pulp.

New Processing

We have been sharing the process and transformation of cacao on the tours, so the next step for Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours is to demonstrate cacao beans roasting….yummmmm! The smell is like brownies baking! And finally we will make the first batch of Kupa’a Estate chocolate! We may practice with Guatamalan beans, the same as we use for the ancient chocolate beverage. They are tasty, but not as rare as the first collected 13 pounds of Kupa’a fermented and dried cacao beans.

Coffee and Cacao Roaster

With the roaster we can also demonstrate coffee beans roasting, obviously at a different time from the cacao. Coffee roasts at a much higher temperature (450 degress and cacao anywhere between 250 -350 degrees). Coffee roasting aroma is lovely but not like cacao’s aroma which is similar to brownies baking! After we have roasted a couple of pounds of cocoa beans, we will then process and finally conch and or refine in a melanger from anywhere from 24 – 48 hours. We will try to schedule the processing time close to tours, so people can experience this part of the chocolate making.

Coming Down Home Stretch

After we are satisfied with the consistency, the chocolate be will tempered and poured into molds. Tempering  for chocolate is a heating and cooling technique that simply changes the molecular structure, giving the finished chocolate product a shiny gloss and a quick snap.  Kupa’a Estate chocolate will be available at the farm and on tours only.

Sharing the Chocolate Making Excitment

Because all of this chocolate making business is new to Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours and Kupa’a Farms, we look forward to sharing our chocolate making excitement with those joining us on one of our Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours!

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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