CHOCOLATE TOUR
From blossom to bar

Our chocolate tour was so beautiful! It was great to get to see all of the lush cacao plants at the organic farm in Kula.

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Chocolate & Coffee Tour
An Adventure

When I heard about those tours I thought, “Wow, a tour that combines two of my absolute favorite things: coffee and chocolate”.

Learn MoreBook Chocolate & Coffee Tour



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There can be much confusion over who makes chocolate, or what “making chocolate” even means. To clear the air, a Chocolate Maker receives the cacao beans, roasts, grinds, and fine tunes it into what we know as chocolate. Chocolate makers can make white chocolate, dark chocolate, and anything in between. A Chocolatier, receives chocolate made by the maker, and uses it to create chocolates, ganaches, figurines, showpieces, confections, and so on. They do not make the chocolate, however they can make chocolates. There are small batch producers who don’t own their own factory but use bigger chocolate makers to work with them to create their own chocolate. Today we will be pointing out the differences on Chocolate Makers vs Chocolatiers, and featuring some local businesses along the way!

Chocolate Maker

A chocolate maker goes through the entire chocolate making process by starting with the raw bean (fermented and dried). There are raw chocolate makers out there, but the bigger part of craft chocolate makers make chocolate as with these steps:

  1. Roasting fermented and dried beans

  2. Cracking

  3. Winnowing

  4. Grinding

  5. Depending on the maker: conching

  6. Tempering

  7. Fill into molds and packaging

We make the chocolate from scratch here at Maui Chocolate Coffee Tours. You will get to do the crack, winnow, and grind with your own two hands!

Chocolate

Chocolatier

There are differences between Chocolate Makers vs Chocolatiers. One of the most common misconceptions is that chocolatiers make their own chocolate from cocoa beans. But they don’t!

Chocolatiers leave the purchasing of cocoa beans, roasting,  and grinding them into chocolate to ‘chocolate makers’. The chocolatiers simply purchase couverture chocolate to make their creations.

Great chocolatiers take their ingredients and aim to create something truly wonderful.

In other words, the chocolatier is the person who fills chocolates, makes truffles and creates flavored bars. It’s a very different discipline from making chocolate from cocoa beans.

Maui Chocolate Coffee Tours

Here at Maui Chocolate Coffee Tours, we do a little bit of everything! Manager, Tour Guide, Chocolate enthusiast, and now a self-taught fruit to bar chocolate maker, Ann Tuomela, has resided in Maui for the past 35 years.

She graduated from University of Washington, Seattle, WA, with a BS degree in business and marketing. Then, she moved directly to Kihei. You can’t pry her off this rock! She has a self proclaimed club for people like her: The Opihi Club. These delectable tasty treats (limpets) are what fishermen hunt on the ocean lava rocks at low tide. Her friends in the “Opihi Club” have lived on Maui for at least two decades continuously. That means not living elsewhere and then returning to Maui after they miss living here!

After a fulfilling career in the Wine industry for 15 years, she re-evaluated as to why she moved to Maui…not to work for corporate America! Ann opened and operated Who Cut The Cheese for 10 years before opening and looking beyond the chocolate wrapper! For those not familiar, Who Cut The Cheese, was a gourmet cheese and wine shop in Kihei.

“A place for those with fine taste AND a sense of humor!”

Who Cut The Cheese, offered monthly wine and cheese tastings for 5 years at Stella Blues and various other restaurants such as Spago’s at the Four Seasons Wailea, Mala Tavern, and Capische?

 

Chocolate

Canadian Chocoholic

We adore Cyndi from @Canadianchocoholic, and wanted to feature her in this month’s blog! She is a true chocoholic with an extensive background.

On Vancouver Island, she worked as a Chocolatier, becoming more interested in chocolate. Since then she has taken tasting classes through Ecole Chocolat and the International Institute of Chocolate and Cacao Tasting, led chocolate tastings, judged the International Chocolate Awards and always continues to learn and read about chocolate.

She is a chocolate sommelier/certified chocolate taster and is always happy to create custom tastings and pairings for all occasions and group sizes. She now offers tastings online for any size of group. Check out her website to learn more! 

Cyndi also does consultant work in setting up pairings, offering education around
chocolate, or finding the perfect chocolate to go with your product.

In 2020, she launched a line of hand-sewn, silk screened face masks that allows chocoholics to wear their love of cacao amidst the pandemic. When she struggled to find fabrics she loved, she just designed them on her own! Following this, she created other sewn products and produced fabrics with a chocolate theme including tote bags, zippered pouches and masks. How cute!

Cyndi was also the sponsor of Cacao Magazine issue 3 #womeninchocolate and has an article about her work with jewelry in it. A magazine about all things bean to bar chocolate.

Chocolate

In 2020, she also joined The Chocolate Notebook team for edition 2 of The Chocolate Notebook, an atypical calendar/planner/notebook that takes you on a journey through the year with a focus on chocolate. All the illustrations in the book are created by herself.

Cyndi also brings her love of chocolate to the world through her skills as a goldsmith,
having a line of chocolate-themed sterling silver cacao pods and cacao beans. Using various techniques, she hand crafts and creates unique, wearable art. She designs and makes jewelry, drawing on her professional training and experience as a goldsmith. Her two years of school in metal smithing taught her so many skills that she was able to use to create her sterling silver, bronze and gold cacao inspired pieces of jewelry. Cyndi’s favorite techniques include lost wax casting, construction, and enameling.

In 2021, she stepped away from her full time job due to some health issues that are still in the process of being pinned down… and moved to working more on the art and chocolate side of things. She then launched Happy Mail for Chocolate Lovers in March of 2021, a monthly subscription that allows her to share her creativity and love of chocolate with other chocolate lovers.

You can subscribe to receive digital happy mail, a
physical postcard with a personalized note written on it, or an envelope in
the mail full of chocolate themed goodies each month.

Happy Mail for Chocolate Lovers has been arriving digitally to inboxes around the globe
twice a month, and Happy Mail for Chocolate Lovers postcards and envelopes have been traveling to three different continents each month, bringing joy and surprise to all who receive them. It’s a great treat for yourself, or makes a great gift for a friend.

Being a maker, Cyndi has an appreciation for small batch, one-of-a-kind, local products, produce and small businesses. She shares the joy of chocolate with others through chocolate tastings, sharing bars, reaching into her purse, as well as her handmade jewelry. When she’s not busy eating chocolate, you can find her posting often on IG
@canadianchocoholic and writing her blog.

Chocolate

Although there are vast differences between Chocolate Makers vs Chocolatiers, we all have one thing in common…our love for chocolate! Stay tuned on next month’s blog, where we will dive into the depths of the Global Chocolate Movement and Chocolate Sommeliers!


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Today we are going to dive into the farm to table and table to farm ideas and benefits. There are some local farms and businesses that currently practice these methods. For those of you who are not familiar,Farm to table is a movement that brings locally grown foods to restaurants, stores, and homes. Locally sourced food is very fresh, delicious, and come with supporting your local farmers. When you dine out at a farm-to-table restaurant, you’re helping the environment too. Local food requires transportation in small distances. This way less fuel is consumed and less emissions are released in the process of getting the ingredients to the restaurant.

Now let’s talk about the table to farm concept. Restaurants always end up with uneaten or unused food. Instead of throwing this waste in the trash which will end up in the landfill, it will go to a farm. This food can be used to feed livestock and nourish the land.

It’s basically recycling food that will just otherwise be tossed.

Benefits of farm to table restaurants

Natural ingredients

I think we would all be able to agree that it feels good to know what’s in your meal when dining out. There’s a certain peace of mind that comes with knowing that you and your loved ones are eating natural and fresh foods, even when you’re not cooking at home. Veggies tend to lose their nutrients after 24 hours of being harvested so having them delivered and prepared the same day makes for a very healthy meal.

table to farm

Environmental Benefits

Farm to table restaurants have a positive impact on the environment. Sourcing local food from the farm down the road makes for way less transportation and fuels. Not only this, but think about all of the packaging that goes into keeping vegetables and fruits fresh and clean! Now, we can skip all of this and have a fresh box of produce delivered straight to the door. Farm to table restaurants help support farms that practice ethically responsible farming (free range meat, non-GMO crops, and organic farming). If you are interested in having a farm box delivered straight to your door, check out Kupa’a farms CSA program. 

Economy Benefits

Supporting or operating a farm to table restaurant means you are supporting many other local businesses. Farmers, bakers, artists, and others who have created or grown the ingredients of your dish will all benefit from this restaurant. Rather than supporting other states where the ingredients have been sourced from, your money will go to supporting your state.

Benefits of Table to Farm

Now, let’s reverse this idea and bring it all back to the farm! Your local farm to table restaurant has received delicious produce from the farm down the road. There will definitely be leftover green waste that cannot be served. The restaurant has the (easy) choice to throw everything in the trash. However, there is a more sustainable and healthy option! Working with your local farms, they can pick up this waste, take it back to the farm, and use it to their advantage. This will not only benefit them, but you as well!

table to farm

Feeding Livestock

Parts of food such as orange peels or almond hulls that humans don’t particularly consume do not need to go to waste. Dairy cows thrive on food we don’t eat or cannot digest! The cow’s unique four-chambered stomach allows it to transform nutrients from those foods into nutritious milk. Foods that are unused by grocery stores, restaurants, universities and hospitals can be reclaimed to feed livestock. How cool is that?!

Feeding the Land

Plants definitely grow best when they have the right kind of nutrient-rich soil, which is why composting is another way to recycle food’s nutrients back into the land. You can compost food scraps and yard waste from your home, or cow manure from the farm! These can be transformed into rich organic matter used to fertilize home gardens, farmer’s crops and more.

Recapturing Energy

Technology now exists to transform uneaten or unused food, recycled water and manure into sustainable renewable energy in the form of methane gas-used to power farms and communities. The science of anaerobic digestion has been understood for a long time. Today, the anaerobic digester is being used more and more to further drive the table to farm cycle.

It’s basically a big circle! A friendly reminder that we all have a role in this cycle. Click here to read more on how you can contribute by reducing food waste at home and in your community.

Puna Gold Estate & Pele’s Kitchen

Puna Gold Estate is a coffee and cacao estate that offers educational farm tours and a farm to table restaurant, Pele’s Kitchen. Located on the Big Island, this farm grows organic fruits and veggies, operates production of honey (you will learn beekeeping techniques) and offers coffee and cacao tours! Don’t forget the yummy chocolate tasting at the end!

Owner and chef of Pele’s Kitchen Stephen Yundt; provides delicious, fresh and top quality meals featuring locally farmed Hawaiian fruits and vegetables. Pele’s Kitchen has a mouthwatering breakfast menu with ingredients from the farm to the table and friendly to all diets. Puna Gold Estate also practices composting the green waste from their restaurant.

table to farm

Kupa’a Farms, Maui

Owners Gerry Ross & Janet Simpson have been malama ka aina. Gerry has a PhD in Earth Science & a thirst for knowledge! He has been amending the once devoid dirt into healthy, microbial diverse soil thanks to his innovative thermal composting program. Combined with both Janet and Gerry’s knowledge of coffee, they have been cultivating and producing award winning coffee for years!  Kupa’a Farms is where we host our Maui Chocolate Coffee Tours!

The 4 acre farm is located at a 1900′ elevation on the slopes of Haleakala, Maui.  In addition to their award winning coffee they grow  organic vegetables, fruits ranging from A-Z,  artichokes, avocados to zucchini. Of course, they all don’t come out of the ground all at once! In case you are wondering, in Hawaiian, Kupa’a means “to make firm, or solid”.

Kupa’a Farms is practicing sustainability and regenerative farming. They take the green waste from the Maui Country Club and compost it back into the soil! There are several compost bins, which are rotated by age of 3-6 months before it is ready to go back into the earth enriching and regenerating the organic gardens.

table to farm

Netflix’s “Kiss the Ground” is a 2020 release of Woody Harrelson’s narrative that explores the core ideas of regenerative agriculture. The documentary focuses on the connections between land use, soil degradation, and the ongoing climate crisis. This is a relevant film for those curious and wanting to learn more!

There are simply not enough farmers practicing “table to farm”. It may be messy and takes some extra time, but if more farmers practice this vitally important process we would have much healthier soil, hence healthier food for our bodies!

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What are the health benefits of chocolate and CBD? Well, dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, can be quite nutritious. Nutritious foods don’t need to be bland or flavorless, they can be decadent and satisfying! Dark chocolate contains a decent amount of soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals. It can be a source of powerful antioxidants, may improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, may protect your skin from the sun, and more! Cannabidiol (CBD) has become a popular natural remedy used for many common ailments. It is one of over 100 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, Cannabis Sativa.

THC is the main psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, and that is what causes the feeling or sensation of getting “high”. However, unlike THC, CBD is NOT psychoactive. This feature makes CBD a very attractive option for those looking for a pain reliever, or other symptoms without having the mind-altering effects of marijuana or other pharmaceutical drugs. Not only is CBD a pain reliever, but it can also reduce anxiety and depression, alleviate cancer-related symptoms, may reduce acne, and benefit heart health, along with many other potential benefits. What about CBD and chocolate combined together?! Well, I am here to give you the scoop.

CBD Chocolate

Chocolate

Chocolate stimulates more than just your taste buds. Some reasons people choose to indulge is because they understand the chemical reactions caused by chocolate. CBD generates very similar chemical reactions in your body. This makes CBD chocolate a functional method of administering the health benefits of the hemp plant. “Edibles” made with CBD are made differently depending on taste and desired effect. Many different types of reactions and benefits can occur with a variety of CBD products, so it is of value to learn how to take CBD oils in ways that will benefit yourself. It is important to listen to your body and what it needs. After all, you are reading into this to possibly improve your quality of life!

CBD Chocolate and its effects on the brain

Apparently the cannabis industry calls chocolate the “soul mate” of CBD. They are perfectly compatible! First, lets learn about Anandamide. This is a chemical messenger in your body- a powerful neurotransmitter, that targets the same brain structures as THC. Anandamide prompts regulation of serotonin and dopamine, which can balance your mood, appetite, and cognitive functions. Chocolate contains small quantities of anandamide. There are fats aka lipids in CBD chocolate, that help to extend the duration of the CBD effects. This means your dosage lasts longer, and your money that you spent goes further!

Benefits of CBD

CBD Oil

Research into the benefits of CBD has shown that it has potent antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects.

Additionally, it may help to reduce the symptoms of the following conditions :

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Chronic pain, such as arthritis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy

Not to mention, CBD also has an excellent safety profile and rarely causes side effects. However, it can interact with a number of prescription and over-the-counter medications. We recommend that anyone looking into using CBD for a specific medical condition should consult with their physician first.

Benefits of Chocolate

Chocolate has powerful antioxidant properties just like CBD! Did you know that it actually contains more antioxidants than most foods?! Chocolate also contains a variety of essential minerals which include magnesium, copper, potassium, and iron. Consuming a good quality, high-percentage dark chocolate in moderation can possbily offer the following benefits:
-Anti inflammatory
-Protects against cardiovascular disease
-Reduces diabetes risk
-Stimulates the central nervous system

Is CBD Oil Legal?

CBD Oil

CBD is readily available in most parts of the United States, however it’s exact status is in flux. “All 50 states have laws legalizing CBD with varying degrees of restriction, and while the federal government still considers CBD in the same class as marijuana, it doesn’t habitually enforce against it.”

Is CBD Safe?

There are possible side effects to anything that you ingest into your body. The side effects are highly unlikely, but can include nausea, fatigue, and irritability. It can have negative side effects when combined with certain pharmaceuticals such as the blood thinner Coumadin. CBD is sold as a supplement, not a medication, so it is not regulated by the FDA.

This is what we have learned over time, researched, and discovered! Now, it is up to you to decide whether CBD or Chocolate…. or chocolate and CBD oil combined, are right for you! Remember, we are professional chocolate makers, but we are not here to give any medical advice. Like I said earlier, it is always best to consult with a physician first.
Hopefully you too will be able to jump on board, and experience the health benefits of chocolate and CBD together! Book a private tour with us today to have a fun and exclusive chocolate making experience. 


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One of the most impressive flowering tree’s of Maui is the stunning Jacaranda. You might be familiar with this tree, as it is a hard one to forget! The tall and full amethyst shaded blooms announce the arrival of spring time. They drop their flowers between May to mid June creating a beautiful carpet of purple and blue colors beneath the trees. Now, are these trees native to Maui? What is the history behind them? Keep on reading to learn more about these breathtaking parts of nature, and learn where you can go to view them! Maui’s Jacaranda spring into bloom right about now!

History Behind the Jacaranda

The Jacaranda’s were originally found in Brazil but spread across many tropical locations in the world including South America, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, and all the way to Africa, Pakistan and even Portugal! The ‘Upcountry’ part of Maui was settled by Portugese farmers and ranchers. We think that this is how the Jacaranda found it’s way here from Portugal.
A man named Elmer Cravalho grew up in the Keokea area where the first trees appeared.
Cravalho became a legislator in the 1950’s and on to become the mayor of Maui County between 1969-1979. In the late 1950’s, Elmer pursuaded the Territorial Highway Commission officials to plant the Jacaranda trees along the upcountry highways including the Pukalani and Kula areas.

 

How big do the Jacaranda Trees grow?

Jacaranda Bloom

These trees can grow up to a whopping height of 60 to 90 feet, and their canopy can spread as large as 30 feet! Depending how much water they receive, in 7 to 14 years a Jacaranda can reach a height of 25 to 30 feet.
Seedlings typically take up to two whole years to bloom! The purplish blue flowers have a small hint of a honey smell to them. Once the flowers have dropped to the ground, they lose their scent completely.
In some parts of the world, there are Jacarandas that are over 200 years old!

Where to find the Jacaranda

Jacaranda Bloom

After all this talk, you must be ready to see the Jacaranda, and even take some photos too!

Upcountry is the beautiful countryside part of Maui. You will find this area on the Haleakala mountain side, away from the shoreline. The largest towns found Upcountry are Pukalani, Makawao, Kula and Haiku. This part of Maui is a very rural, agricultural and residential area. However, there is also quite a bit for visitors alike!

You definitely won’t be able to miss these trees during your drive up the mountain. Our favorite place to view the magic is on the road toward Maui Winery which is on Kula Highway. The Kula baseball park also has some beautiful views!
After visiting the Jacarandas, get ready for some coffee and chocolate!
Come visit us a MCCT, and you will even be able to spot Jacarandas on your way to us on Naalae road.

Breakfast at Grandma’s Coffee House

Would you like to make a full day of your trip Upcountry? First stop on the list, we would recommend having coffee and breakfast at our beloved Grandma’s Coffee House. You will find this cozy cafe with a scenic deck at 9232 Kula Highway. Relaxed vibes and organic coffee made from local, house-roasted beans. This is a great way to start your day off right!

A little bit of history on Grandma’s Coffee House. Grandma AKA Minnie Franco, was just 16 years old when she started hand-picking, drying and roasting wild coffee beans grown on the slopes of Haleakala! Back in 1918, water was extremely scarce, and this was the only stop for coffee Upcountry. Grandma would barter her brewed coffee with the ranchers and paniolo (cowboys) on their way back and forth from Ulupalakua and Kaupo.

To this day, the beans are still roasted in a century-old wood-fired roaster, the same one which Minnie acquired in 1885.
You can feel the history when you walk into this coffee shop. It is just like you are at Grandma’s! Not to mention, the baked goods are so very tasty!

Whether you come up country to see the Jacaranda, visit us at MCCT, or are heading all the way up to the volcano of Haleakala, we recommend putting this beautiful gem of Maui on your bucket list. It really is such a special place! Now that you know when Maui’s Jacaranda Spring into Bloom, tag us on instagram so we can see your photos of the Jacaranda!


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The worldwide pandemic has changed and effected us all, especially businesses. There were some positive changes, while others negative. Hawaii has taken a drastic hit with Covid. Many businesses had to permanently close down, while others were able to transition and figure out a way to survive and thrive. This pandemic has given us “fresh eyes” and we chose to take the positive route, and find a solution! Continue reading if you would like to know how businesses in Hawaii have pivoted during COVID 19.

What is a business pivot?

This is the process of addressing a problem when a company is experiencing an important or difficult challenge that is keeping it from achieving its goals. This can include anything from changing a product to entering a new industry. Many businesses are transitioning into the online world, or learning to expand to clients or customers in new, innovative ways.

How MCCT has pivoted

Here at Maui Chocolate Coffee Tours (MCCT), we previously offered private tours or group tours. Now, with COVID 19 safety restrictions, we choose to offer private tours only. This allows us to stay open and operate in a very health safety environment for our guests and for those who live on the farm. Not only this, but it is also much better for our guests. You get a private and more intimate experience with more one on one interaction with your tour guide, and a better learning environment with the smaller size group. This is truly an exclusive experience! We are excited to offer a much more memorable and enhanced tour for our guests. We minimize the “footprint” at the farm and offer the “less is more” concept.

With MCCT making this transition into 2021, we are realizing very positive results. Unfortunately many other businesses are being deeply affected by the pandemic. I am now going to talk about a few of our favorite businesses and their success stories with adapting during this unprecedented time.

 

Miso Phat Kihei, Maui

Miso Phat is a sushi restaurant located in Kihei, Maui. With Covid hitting Hawaii quite hard, this restaurant needed to make a pivotal decision in order to save their business. Online ordering has become a very popular way of eating out. Restaurants on island are only operating at less than 50% capacity and people are cautious about dining in. This makes online ordering a huge convenience. Miso Phat made the business savvy decision to revamp their website with enhanced online food ordering with the expertise of Charles Oreve, the owner and CEO of the marketing agency, The X Concept.

Now, Miso Phat’s online sales have soared! They are doing better than they were pre-Covid, all with a few changes, business minded creativity and guidance from Charles.

Charles has also helped us at MCCT and Hawaii Farm Tour with the re designing of our website, and is currently building us a new website for Hawaii Farm Tour.

Farmers harvesting ginger covid safe
farmers harvesting ginger covid safe

 

Hawaii Farms

 

All over the state, we have many farms. Some farms sell their vegetables at local farmers markets. Others sell produce in local heath food stores, Costco and local restaurants that have re-opened. In April 2020, when businesses really started to close down and quarantine came into effect, certain farms made the executive decision to start selling CSA boxes. These affordable farm boxes are packed with fresh fruit and veggies from your local farm, and delivered to your door. With this, you can take away the worry about going to the grocery store and getting possible exposure, and you also have the convenience of fresh food being delivered! Not to mention, there is zero waste, and the cardboard boxes are re used by the farms to pack future boxes.

Birds eye view of farm
Birds eye view from farm

The CSA farm boxes are quite affordable, making it an option for any family to have! Depending which farm you choose, some have organic options or even customization. This makes your weekly or bi weekly order unique to what you want. Click here or here to visit two different farms on Maui that offer CSA farm boxes.

There are many examples of how businesses in Hawaii have pivoted during Covid 19 and the creative new ways to operate their businesses. Some are bakeries that have shut down and started selling DIY baking kits. Others are wineries that could not offer in person tasting. Now you can order a tasting kit delivered to your door!

What ever it may be, it is quite interesting to see how the world has adjusted and changed. Especially during one of the most difficult times in history. We would love to hear your success story! Please share with us by tagging us on instagram or commenting below.


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