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”.

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When you think of Maui, the first images that come to mind are often sun-kissed beaches, lush tropical landscapes, and the vibrant culture of the Hawaiian islands. Yet, nestled in the fertile, volcanic soil of this paradise, lies another treasure waiting to be discovered—Maui’s world-renowned coffee. At Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours, we invite you to embark on a sensory journey, through our Maui Coffee Tour,  that explores the rich tapestry of Maui’s coffee culture, from the meticulous farming techniques to the distinctive flavors that make our coffee unique.

The Journey Begins: From Bean to Brew

1. A Warm Welcome to the Plantation

Your tour begins with a warm aloha at our plantation within Kupa’a farms, where you will be greeted by the stunning vistas of coffee trees set against the backdrop of Maui’s breathtaking landscape. Our knowledgeable guide will introduce you to the history of coffee cultivation on the island, explaining how the unique climate and volcanic soil create the perfect conditions for growing exceptional coffee.

2. The Art of Coffee Cultivation

As you stroll through the rows of coffee trees, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the hard work and dedication that goes into each cup of coffee. Our guides will explain the entire process, from planting the seeds to nurturing the young plants. You’ll learn about the sustainable farming techniques we use, including organic practices and permaculture principles that help protect the environment and ensure the health of our coffee plants.

3. Harvesting the Coffee Cherries

One of the most exciting parts of the tour is witnessing the coffee harvest. Depending on the season, you might have the opportunity to see our skilled farmers hand-picking the ripe coffee cherries. This method ensures that only the best cherries are selected, which is crucial for producing high-quality coffee. Our guides will explain how the timing of the harvest impacts the flavor profile of the coffee, highlighting the importance of experience and expertise in this delicate process.

Processing: Transforming Cherries into Beans

4. Pulping and Fermentation

After harvesting, the coffee cherries undergo a meticulous process to extract the beans. You’ll see our pulping machines in action, removing the outer fruit to reveal the coffee beans inside. This is followed by fermentation, a crucial step that enhances the beans’ flavor. Our guides will walk you through the different methods of fermentation and how each technique influences the final taste of the coffee.

5. Drying and Milling

Once fermented, the beans are carefully dried under the warm Maui sun. You’ll observe the traditional drying methods, such as sun-drying on raised beds, which allow for even drying and optimal flavor development. After drying, the beans are milled to remove the parchment layer, leaving behind the green coffee beans ready for roasting.

The Science of Roasting

6. The Roasting Room

Step into our roasting room, where the true magic happens. Here, you’ll meet our master roaster, who will demonstrate the art and science of coffee roasting. You’ll learn about the different roast levels, from light to dark, and how each level brings out unique characteristics in the beans. The aroma of freshly roasted coffee fills the air, giving you a tantalizing preview of the flavors to come.

Tasting: The Final Delight

7. The Cupping Experience

No coffee tour is complete without a tasting session. Our guides will lead you through a professional cupping experience, where you’ll sample a variety of our finest coffees. You’ll learn how to identify the subtle notes and flavors that distinguish Maui coffee, from fruity and floral to nutty and chocolatey undertones. This sensory exploration will deepen your appreciation for the complexity and depth of our coffee.

8. Pairing with Maui Chocolate

To elevate your tasting experience, we also offer a selection of locally crafted Maui chocolates. You’ll discover how the rich flavors of our coffee complement the smooth, creamy textures of our chocolate, creating a harmonious symphony of taste. This pairing highlights the unique terroir of Maui, where both coffee and chocolate thrive in the island’s fertile soil and ideal climate.

Take a Piece of Paradise Home

Before you leave, be sure to visit our gift shop, where you can purchase freshly roasted coffee beans and handcrafted chocolates to take a piece of Maui home with you. Our knowledgeable staff will help you select the perfect beans and provide brewing tips to ensure you can recreate the island experience in your own home.

A Sustainable Future

At Maui Chocolate Coffee Tours, we are committed to sustainability and giving back to our community. Our tour not only showcases the beauty and flavor of Maui coffee but also emphasizes the importance of sustainable practices and supporting local farmers. By choosing our tour, you are contributing to the preservation of Maui’s natural resources and the livelihoods of our farming community.

Book Your Tour Today

Join us at Maui Chocolate Coffee Tours for an unforgettable journey through the world of Maui coffee. Whether you’re a coffee connoisseur or simply looking for a unique and enriching experience, our tour offers a taste of paradise that will linger long after your visit. Book your tour today and discover why Maui coffee is truly a treasure of the island.

For more information and to book your tour, view our homepage.

Indulge in the essence of Maui and let us guide you through a coffee lover’s dream. From the lush plantations to the final sip of expertly brewed coffee, every moment of our tour is designed to captivate and inspire. Experience the magic of Maui coffee—one bean, one cup, and one unforgettable tour at a time.


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In the vast and vibrant world of chocolate, a looming concern is casting a shadow over the industry: the global chocolate shortage. As connoisseurs, enthusiasts, and casual consumers alike face the potential scarcity of one of the world’s most beloved treats, Hawaii, particularly Maui, is emerging as a unique player in the global cacao and chocolate scene. Despite its relatively small scale of cacao cultivation, the Aloha State is showing that size isn’t everything when it comes to making a significant impact.

The Global Chocolate Crisis: An Overview

Chocolate is derived from the seeds of the cacao tree, a delicate tropical plant native to the deep tropical regions of the Americas. The beans are not only precious but also increasingly scarce. Factors contributing to the global chocolate shortage include climate change, diseases affecting cacao trees, and rising global demand which outstrips supply. Countries traditionally known for cacao production are struggling to keep up, pushing chocolate lovers and makers to look for new horizons.

Why Hawaii Matters in Global Cacao Production

Enter Hawaii, the only U.S. state where cacao can be grown. Hawaii’s entry into the chocolate scene is marked by its unique geographical and climatic conditions. Located at 21 degrees north, it sits at the so-called “north pole” of the cacao belt, which typically ranges between 20 degrees north and 20 degrees south of the equator. This unique positioning challenges the traditional norms of cacao cultivation, offering new insights and innovations in farming practices that could influence global production.

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Maui’s Chocolate Landscape

On Maui, known as the “Valley Isle,” the conditions are not typically ideal for cacao due to the high winds, particularly around Maalaea Harbor and the island’s airports — some of the windiest places in the world. Cacao trees are susceptible to damage from such conditions, as they require calm environments to thrive. However, areas like Hana and East Maui, as well as parts of the north shore of West Maui, provide sheltered environments conducive to cacao cultivation. Despite the adversities, including the recent wildfires that thankfully spared the cacao trees but damaged some fruit, the resilience of Maui’s cacao cultivation is noteworthy.

Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours: A Taste of Resilience

At Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours, visitors get an intimate look at how cacao and coffee thrive in the challenging yet nurturing Hawaiian environment. Our tours are held at Kupa’a Farms, located on the slopes of Haleakala at an elevation of 1,900 feet — a location some might find unlikely for cacao production. Yet, here it thrives, defying expectations and adding to the rich tapestry of agricultural innovation that marks Maui’s contribution to global cacao production.

Sustainable Practices and Educational Insights

Through our tours, we delve deep into the intricacies of cacao and coffee cultivation. Our focus on sustainable farming practices not only helps in producing quality products but also educates visitors on the importance of sustainability in agriculture. This knowledge is crucial, especially today, as the industry faces global challenges that threaten its very existence.

Hawaii’s Role in Alleviating the Chocolate Crisis

Though Hawaii’s production scale is small, its impact is significant in terms of agricultural innovation and sustainable practices. The islands serve as a living laboratory for developing new techniques in cacao cultivation, pest management, and climate adaptation strategies that could be mirrored in other parts of the world.

While Hawaii, and Maui in particular, might occupy a small niche in the global cacao map, their contribution to the broader narrative of chocolate is anything but minor. In facing and overcoming the unique challenges posed by its environment, Maui is setting examples in resilience and innovation. As we continue to enjoy and celebrate chocolate, understanding and supporting sustainable practices worldwide, and particularly in emerging regions like Hawaii, becomes more crucial. Join us at Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours, and witness firsthand how Maui is not just coping but thriving in its quest to help save global chocolate.


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April 11, 2024 Ann TuomelaCoffee0

A Deep Dive into the Coffee Borer (Plight) at Kupa’a Farms and Beyond

Nestled among the lush landscapes of Maui, Hawaii, the coffee and chocolate industries have long been pillars of local agriculture, offering a bounty of high-quality products that delight aficionados worldwide. At Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours, our mission extends beyond merely showcasing Maui’s exquisite coffee and chocolate; we are stewards of an agricultural heritage that faces modern challenges head-on. One such challenge, increasingly significant in recent years, is the invasion of the Coffee Bean Borer (Hypothenemus hampei), a tiny beetle with the potential to devastate coffee crops, including those at our beloved Kupa’a Farms.

Understanding the Adversary: The Coffee Bean Borer

The Coffee Bean Borer is not just another pest; it’s the most destructive coffee pest worldwide. Originating in Central Africa, this beetle has found its way across the globe, thriving in coffee-producing regions due to its preference for the coffee cherry. Adult females bore into the cherry to lay their eggs, and once hatched, the larvae feed on the coffee bean from the inside out, significantly reducing the quality and yield of the harvest.

Impact on Maui’s Coffee: A Closer Look

Maui, with its unique microclimates and rich volcanic soil, offers an ideal environment for coffee cultivation. However, this paradise is not immune to the threats posed by the Coffee Bean Borer. At Kupa’a Farms, a beacon of sustainable and organic farming practices, the invasion of this pest has prompted both concern and action. The farm, known for its commitment to quality and environmental stewardship, has been at the forefront of battling this pest without resorting to harmful chemicals that could damage the ecosystem and the integrity of their coffee.

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Strategies and Solutions: Combating the Borer at Kupa’a Farms

Integrated Pest Management (IPM): Kupa’a Farms employs an IPM approach, combining biological, cultural, mechanical, and, as a last resort, chemical methods to manage the borer population. This holistic strategy focuses on long-term prevention and minimal impact on the environment.

Biological Control: One promising avenue is the exploration of natural predators and fungi that target the Coffee Bean Borer. While this method is still in the research phase, it holds the potential for a sustainable solution to this pervasive problem.

Sanitation and Cultivation Practices: By meticulously removing and destroying infested beans and maintaining the health of the coffee plants, Kupa’a Farms reduces the borer’s ability to proliferate. These labor-intensive practices are crucial in minimizing the pest’s impact.

Educational Outreach: Recognizing the importance of community in this battle, Kupa’a Farms and Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours engage in educational efforts to spread awareness about the Coffee Bean Borer. By informing local farmers and the public about effective management techniques, the hope is to create a unified front against this common enemy.

Beyond Kupa’a Farms: A Global Challenge

The struggle against the Coffee Bean Borer on Maui reflects a broader challenge faced by coffee producers worldwide. Climate change, with its unpredictable weather patterns, provides an additional layer of complexity, potentially exacerbating the spread and survival of pests like the Coffee Bean Borer. As such, the fight against this pest is not just local but global, requiring collaboration, innovation, and a commitment to sustainable practices.

Looking Ahead: Resilience and Innovation

At Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours, we stand with Kupa’a Farms and the wider coffee-producing community of Maui in the face of this challenge. Through resilience, innovation, and a deep commitment to the environment, we are confident in our ability to overcome the adversity posed by the Coffee Bean Borer. Our tours not only celebrate the sensory delights of Maui’s coffee and chocolate but also underscore the importance of sustainable agriculture in preserving these treasures for future generations.

Join Us in Support

We invite you to join us on a tour to learn more about the beauty and challenges of coffee and chocolate production on Maui. Your support helps foster sustainable practices that ensure the longevity and quality of our beloved coffee. Together, we can contribute to a future where the coffee culture on Maui thrives, resilient in the face of challenges like the Coffee Bean Borer.

For tour information and bookings, please visit our website or contact us directly. Together, let’s sip through the story of Maui’s coffee, one cup at a time.*

Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours is dedicated to providing immersive, educational experiences that highlight the rich agricultural heritage of Maui. For more information about our tours and our efforts to combat the Coffee Bean Borer, please visit our website.


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March 3, 2024 Ann TuomelaChocolate0

In the heart of the Pacific Ocean lies a hidden gem, Samoa, renowned for its rich history, vibrant culture, and a treasure trove of cacao that has captivated the taste buds of chocolate enthusiasts worldwide. At Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours, we take pride in presenting the story of Samoa’s cacao, offering a unique perspective on its significance in the face of the global chocolate shortage. Our dedication to quality and sustainability has given rise to the exclusive 60% Koko Samoa, an unparalleled chocolate experience that can only be found on our guided tours.

The Global Chocolate Shortage:

As the demand for chocolate continues to rise globally, the industry faces a pressing challenge – a shortage of quality cacao. Samoa emerges as a beacon of hope. Boasting a climate and soil conducive to cultivating some of the finest cacao beans in the world. Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours have taken it upon themselves to showcase the potential of Samoa’s cacao in addressing the ongoing chocolate scarcity.

Samoa

The Journey from Bean to Bar:

Embark on a journey with us as we trace the origins of Samoa’s cacao. Exploring the meticulous process of transforming raw cacao beans into the velvety, rich chocolate that graces our palates. Our guided tours offer an immersive experience, allowing visitors to witness firsthand the traditional methods employed by local farmers. From harvesting the ripe pods to sun-drying the precious beans.

The Maui Difference:

At Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours, we’ve refined the art of chocolate-making, combining the expertise of Samoan farmers with the innovation of our skilled chocolatiers on the island of Maui. The result? A unique 60% Koko Samoa blend that epitomizes the essence of Samoa’s cacao, encapsulating its distinct flavors and aromas. Koko Samoa is traditionally drank as a ceremonial hot chocolate beverage. It is also used in cooking for special occasions such as weddings and funerals. This exclusive chocolate is a testament to our commitment to preserving the authenticity of the region while offering a delectable solution to the global chocolate shortage.

Sustainability and Ethical Practices:

Beyond the exquisite taste of our 60% Koko Samoa, Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours are dedicated to sustainable and ethical practices. We work closely with local farmers, ensuring fair wages and environmentally friendly cultivation methods. Our commitment to preserving the delicate ecosystem of Western Samoa contributes to the longevity of the cacao industry. Providing a model for responsible chocolate production.

Samoa Sunset

Join Us on a Journey of Discovery:

Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours invite chocolate enthusiasts, connoisseurs, and curious minds to join us on a captivating journey. Immerse yourself in the world of cacao. From the vibrant cacao farms to the refined chocolate-making process on Maui.

In the face of a global chocolate shortage, Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours stand as a beacon of innovation and sustainability. Presenting the world with the exclusive 60% Koko Samoa blend. Through our guided tours, we invite you to savor the rich history and unparalleled flavors of Samoa’s cacao. Elevating your chocolate experience to new heights. Join us on this unforgettable journey as we celebrate the essence of cacao, refined on the shores of Maui.


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February 5, 2024 Ann TuomelaChocolate0

Indulging in the velvety richness of a fine chocolate or savoring the robust aroma of freshly brewed coffee is a sensory experience that transcends borders. However, the global landscape of these beloved treats is facing a bitter reality – a global chocolate shortage. In this blog post, we delve into the intricacies of this crisis and shed light on how Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours is taking proactive steps towards sustainability and responsible sourcing.

Understanding the Global Chocolate Shortage:

Chocolate, a delicacy enjoyed by millions worldwide, is facing unprecedented challenges, primarily stemming from the cocoa industry. The global chocolate shortage is a multifaceted issue, encompassing factors such as climate change, economic disparities, and environmental concerns.

1. Climate Change Impact on Cocoa Farms:

The cocoa plant, from which chocolate is derived, thrives in specific climatic conditions. However, rising temperatures, erratic rainfall, and changing weather patterns due to climate change have adversely affected cocoa plantations. This has led to a decline in cocoa yields, impacting the global supply chain.

2. Economic Challenges for Cocoa Farmers:

Small-scale cocoa farmers, predominantly in West Africa, face economic hardships. Many live below the poverty line, struggling with issues like child labor, lack of access to education, and inadequate healthcare. These challenges contribute to an unstable cocoa supply chain, further intensifying the global chocolate shortage.

3. Environmental Concerns in Cocoa Production:

Traditional cocoa farming practices often involve deforestation and excessive use of pesticides. This not only harms biodiversity but also results in degraded soil quality. Sustainable and ethical farming practices are crucial to mitigating these environmental concerns and ensuring the longevity of cocoa production.

Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours’ Commitment to Sustainability:

In the midst of these challenges, Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours stands out as a beacon of sustainability and ethical sourcing. The company recognizes its responsibility to contribute positively to the global cocoa industry and is taking concrete steps to address the issues at hand.

1. Ethical Sourcing Practices:

Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours is committed to sourcing its cocoa beans responsibly. By establishing partnerships with ethically minded cocoa producers, the company ensures fair wages, better working conditions, and a focus on eradicating child labor.

2. Supporting Sustainable Farming Methods:

The company actively promotes and supports sustainable farming practices, advocating for agroforestry and organic cultivation methods. These practices not only contribute to environmental conservation but also enhance the quality of cocoa beans.

3. Educational Initiatives for Cocoa Farmers:

Recognizing the importance of education in breaking the cycle of poverty, Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours invests in educational initiatives for cocoa farming communities. This includes providing training on sustainable farming techniques, financial literacy, and healthcare access.

4. Climate Resilience Efforts:

Acknowledging the impact of climate change on cocoa production, Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours actively engages in projects that promote climate resilience. This includes supporting research on drought-resistant cocoa varieties and implementing eco-friendly practices in its operations.

While the global chocolate shortage poses challenges to the cocoa industry, Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours exemplifies a commitment to sustainability and ethical practices. By prioritizing responsible sourcing, supporting sustainable farming methods, and investing in the well-being of cocoa farming communities, the company is contributing to a more resilient and sustainable chocolate industry. As consumers, our choices can make a difference, and by supporting companies like Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours, we become part of the solution to the global chocolate shortage.


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November 13, 2023 Ann TuomelaChocolate0

This expression Wholly Cacao did not come to us overnight. A few years into guiding these tours, the expression came about by how little cacao is grown in the state of Hawaii, and even less on Maui. It is our enthusiast’s opinion, that of all the Hawaiian islands, Maui grows the least amount of cacao.

You may wonder, how did we come to this conclusion? Here on the Valley Isle, we have the strongest tradewinds with Ma’alea Harbor being the second windiest harbor in the world with the first windiest being in New Zealand. Cacao 101: Cacao doesn’t like wind! Wind and the price of land are the two important factors as to why there is so little cacao grown on Maui.

There are plenty of “backyard” growers of cacao, but not all of them are processing their cacao into chocolate. That’s what we do! Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours has been foraging for cacao since 2020.

We have come to be friends with another type of forager on Oahu. Nat Bletter, aka, Natty by Nature and the owner and flavor Meister of Madre Chocolate. He has been a mentor for many chocolate makers in the Hawaiian islands, Hana Gold, Island Sharks on the Big Island, Nine Fine Mynahs on Oahu, 21 Degrees on Oahu, Lydegate Farms on Kauai, and yours truly here at Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours.

Wholly Cacao

On that note, that leads us to how Wholly Cacao is bringing our cacao to chocolate experience in the luxury and privacy of your private residence. We have a few private chefs that have already experienced our Wholly Cacao service, they have added us to their repertoire as an appetizer (chocolate, cheese and charcuterie), dessert (chocolate paired with your favorite adult beverage; wine, whisky, beer, etc or your favorite non-alcoholic beverage). The first two private chefs who were inspired and have utilized Wholly Cacao’s services are Chef  Jana McMahon and A Private Chef Katarina Tualemoso. We are happy to extend our service to other private chefs, and hotel conceirges who have clients with sophisticated and  discriminating palates, and of course sense of humor! That may ring a bell from a previous business, Who Cut the Cheese, “Where sophispticated product is presented in a fun and friendly environment and a place for those with fine taste and a sense of humor!” Those who understood us, got the goods with fun and friendly service. We look forward to bringing that type of experience with chocolate into people’s homes

Cheers and we look forward to rocking the cacao/chocolate experience off the farm and into your home!

Your cacao forager and chocolate maker,
Ann Tuomela


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March 7, 2023 Ann TuomelaChocolate1

Chocolate meets Cheese And Comfort Begins

Chocolate meets Cheese And Comfort Begins all came about when we looked up an old Who Cut The Cheese Aluma on Cape Cod last fall. Heather Cantin, is the successful owner/operator of Chatham Cheese Company on Cape Cod in MA.
When I owned Who Cut The Cheese in Kihei on Maui, people would often ask, “are you going to make your own cheese?” My reply, “heck no! It takes too much milk and time!” A similar question came up when the wine industry. People would ask if I wanted to be a wine sommelier. “Heck no! It takes too much time, and I have lots of other interests.”

Chocolate and cheese board

The past few years have been spent in the school of life, as it was for a lot of us, and this particular chapter unfolds into the world of making chocolate from seed to bar. Chocolate making was never on the forefront for this entrepeneur, but as that famour Forrest Gump quote “life is like a box of chocolates cuz you never know what you’re gonna get!” or something to that affect. The same applies when you come on a tour by Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours. Chocolate meets cheese and comfort begins, is a great story, but it has too many chapters for this short blog.

When Who Cut The Cheese was open, years ago, we were pretty clueless about chocolate, as we were too busy studying up on our cheese and wine. We knew we needed other yummies to accompany our vast selections of cheese and wine, so we purchased some chocolate by name recognition only, ScharffenBerger. If we only had connected the dots back then! John ScharffenBerger is a wine maker who segwayed out of wine to identify the different flavor profiles of single origin chocolates. Who would of “thunk”!

Cheese Board

Now, on to Heather and her cool story. She started Chatham Cheese Company with a business partner some years back and has been successfully operating the store on her own since 2011 after her business partner went on to new endeavors. Her shop is quite seasonal due to weather, as many of you may know if you have experienced a winter on the east coast. One winter Heather came to Maui and sniffed out a job at Who Cut The Cheese. What a refreshing delight she was and still is! We actually had someone who knew how to handle cheese, aka, cut the cheese! Now, stop it with all of your flatuation jokes, we were a serious store for “ folks with fine taste AND a sense of humor”! We were pretty much over the wine snobbery thing and then came the “curd nerds”! Come on guys and gals…wine is simply fermented grape juice and cheese is just fermented milk! Alright you mighty nib nerds, guess what chocolate is? Yes, fermented cacao (ca-cow), for those who may not know that chocolate is made from fruit, cacao. All together chocolate meeting cheese gives us so much comfort!

Chocolate and Cheese

Heather put out a beautiful spread of cheese and charcuterie with stunnimg wine pairings at the Chatham Cheese Company that would rock your world! We offered to write about the Chatham Cheese Company in March, as that is when they will be re-opening, or coming out of their winter hibernation getting ready for another successful season. Again, we applaud Heather and her cheesemonger team in carrying the torch for Who Cut The Cheese and keeping the yummy comfort in bringing chocolate and cheese together.

On that note, that trip and writing this blog also inspired the Who Cut The Cheese Alumni Reunion! Yes, chocolate meets cheese and the comfort begins will be celebrated on the island of Oahu. Why Oahu, you may wonder? Katarina Tualamoso, owner/private chef of Maui Food and Wine, dscovered a killer house on the north shore of Oahu last month while creating an amazing farm to table event for some guests staying at the Turtle Bay Resort. Wowza, best describes it all!!!! My part in that event was more of infrastructure for the party and the most important course…Chocolate! We showed three finely handcrafted Hawaiian grown chocolates: Madre’s Kona Criollo 70% made on Oahu, North Shore on Oahu, Nine Fine Mynahs 70% and 100%, and Maui Chocolate and Coffee Tours Haiku, Maui grown 70%.

By the way, the 100% was stunning, and what was most impressive was the mouth feel, so it had no bitterness. Crazy, cool and it definitely brought out the comfort in chocolate!

Wheel of Chocolate

It’s always best to close on a good and delicious note, and what could be better than chocolate meets cheese and comfort begins.

The title of this blog changed as the week unfolded. Last week when I was struggling with SEO for the blog, I told my web designer, Charles of the Xconcept, all I want to do is write! Even though my writing doesn’t conform to the algorithms or whatever is necessary to optimize my website’s search engine, writing this piece has given me personal comfort. How has writing this blog given me comfort? i Last week I lost 2 people on the same day,  and one is holding on each day waiting for his biggest chocolate and cheese party ever! It’s okay Johnny.  This is written in memory of Jo Wallace, loving mom to Val and Hanson in Texas, and Maui’s beloved chef and person Mark Ellman. You all will be missed and we’ll never forget you as we’ll see you at the greatest chocolate and cheese party with all the comfort of loving arms of Aloha!


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December 14, 2022 Ann TuomelaChocolate0

Hand crafted chocolates are created individually, meaning no large production lines or industrial machinery is involved in the process. The outcome will mean that each and every chocolate will turn out unique in its own way. Factory made chocolate is the opposite- generally producing larger amounts of chocolate, using industrial machinery, and each chocolate looking perfect and almost identical each time. In order to lower the cost of production, certain factories may replace the natural ingredients for artificial ones. They will also add preservatives, allowing the food to stay “perfect” for longer.
Think of it like cooking at home, versus eating processed foods on the shelf. Both taste good, we know that a home made meal is always better and healthier for you! You can taste the love put into hand crafted chocolates, and they are as pure as it gets.  Here at Maui Chocolate Coffee Tours we are proud to call ourselves “handcrafters”! Keep reading more to learn about hand crafted vs factory made chocolate.

Benefits of hand-crafted chocolate

Well, if we didn’t already answer this question from the above paragraph, let’s talk about it more in depth. There is a sort of art to chocolate, as there is to wine. Chocolate has unique and quite amazing tastes, aromas, and sensations. It’s a treat that’s produced by the most natural and fresh ingredients. Expertise and knowledge are required to achieve such delicious taste.
Chocolate that’s produced in a factory is mass produced. We aren’t saying that it won’t be tasty, I mean who doesn’t love all chocolate am I right? However, you can taste the difference. Hand crafted chocolate is fresh and pure. Someone made it with their hands. They put a lot of time into perfecting a small batch of chocolate, that can’t possibly be exactly the same as the next. No preservatives, no artificial flavors, and the highest quality of ingredients.

Hand crafted chocolate is typically made with natural flavors such as real hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, etc. But, commercial chocolate is filled with many different artificial flavors, syrups, or chemical fillings. Some chocolate factories also use cocoa butter as a substitute, taking away from the chocolates natural taste and quality.

Island Sharks Chocolate – Hand Crafted Hawai’i chocolate

Island Sharks Chocolate is a hand-crafted, black owned, Hawai’i grown and made chocolate business. They make everything in small batches, and they are based in Hilo, Hawai’i. Everyone in the Island Sharks Ohana are chocolate lovers that live and breathe the island lifestyle. Ethan Swift is the guy at Island Shark Chocolate! He makes the chocolate, designs the packaging, website, and runs all the social media. You go Ethan!

Their Hawai’i cacao is grown along the beautiful slopes of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawai’i, and the chocolate is made just down the road. Island Sharks Chocolate support’s Hawaii’s local farmers. By purchasing Hawai’i cacao beans at an industry premium, they create livable wages for our community. We love Island Sharks Chocolate, and if you are looking for some Hawaiian hand-crafted, one of a kind chocolate for this holiday season, or just anytime, we couldn’t think of a better business to support!

The other amazing thing about their chocolate is that it’s all vegan, gluten free, soy free, non gmo, ethically sourced and made. Click here to shop Island Shark Chocolate! 

hand-crafted vs factory made chocolate

hand-crafted vs factory made chocolate

Manoa Chocolate – Commercial Hawai’i chocolate 

Manoa Chocolate has been crafting bean-to-bar chocolate on Oahu since 2010. Their cacao beans are ethically sourced from Hawai’i and other parts of the world. Their goal is to “bring out the best” in each bean. They craft all of their chocolate in house, so they have complete control during the entire process. What sets Manoa chocolate apart is that they buy their cacao beans straight from the farmer. This means while sourcing cacao ethically, the farmers get paid better, and they are able to get the highest quality of cacao. Their chocolate factory is based in Kailua, Oahu. They have their cacao farm, with about 130 cacao trees.

As we do at MCCT, their bean to bar experience is able to tell the story of where the chocolate is grown, which is important to us. Although they are factory produced chocolate, they still strive to make high quality chocolate with the least amount of “bad” ingredients. How cute is their packaging?!

Manoa chocolate

A Manoa chocolate isn’t a Hershey’s chocolate since it is produced on a much smaller scale and in the Aloha state! However, if you do decide to shop for single origin commercial chocolate, make sure  of it’s ingredients, it’s the origin you are interested, the products are sourced ethically and that the growers truly care about how their fruit is handled from start to finish. When chocolate factories in Hawaii have the opportunity  to make their chocolate with Hawaiian grown cacao, you are in for a very special treat because the producers in Hawaii get to ferment the fruit where bean to bar producers on the mainland simply get to roast their beans that have been fermented and dried from a far away place.

Maui Chocolate Coffee Tours

We are Maui Chocolate Coffee Tours, and the cacao for our 70% handcrafted chocolate bars is grown in Haiku. The cacao will continue to be sourced from there until the trees at Kupa’a Farms are producing.  Kupa’a Farms is where MCCT enhances the tour with our hands on chocolate making demonstration along with other educational fun that happens on our tours!  You will get to see everything from the farm to the table, and how we make the chocolate in between. And yes, that’s right, we create hand crafted chocolate! Reserve a tour, or surprise someone with one as a gift, because this experience will be one that you won’t forget!

hand-crafted vs factory made chocolate


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October 3, 2022 Ann TuomelaChocolate0
Madre Chocolate Hawaii purchases raw, fermented beans directly from farmers and cooperatives, and then they roast and process in small batches to craft their chocolate bars. The best part about making chocolate in Hawai’i is that they can work closely with cacao farmers to dial down the fermentation and drying process. This makes delicious chocolate. Many cacao farmers in the Latin America and Africa have never tasted the chocolate made with their beans. Once they receive the beans from the farm, a couple weeks later they go back to the farm and taste the chocolate and comparing notes. This allows the farmers an opportunity to improve and make their beans shine. Keep reading to learn more about the wonderful Madre Chocolate Hawaii!

Sustainable Chocolate

We love that Madre Chocolate does direct trade. They get to know each farm and farmer that they buy cacao from. They see every farm, the conditions of the people, and the ecology. This way they know that every single cacao farm they work with is treating their land, animals, plants and people well. Madre Chocolate is truly providing its customers with sustainable chocolate. All of their packaging is completely biodegradable/ compostable or recyclable! Great work guys!
Madre Chocolate Hawai'i

Dr Nat Bletter PhD & Founder

Dr. Nat Bletter is the Owner and Founder of Madre Chocolate. He has 15 years of experience in botany, documenting exotic fruits and vegetables, gathering food in the wild, and herbal and traditional medicine. Dr Bletter has explored Asia, South America, Central America, and Africa.
He has a Ph.D. in Ethnobotany from the City University of New York and New York Botanical Garden, where he researched medicinal plants of Peru, Mali, and the Guatemalan Mayans, ethnobotany, taste-modifying plants, and stimulant plants such as cacao. This inspired him to start a traditional-ingredient, high-antioxidant, artisinal chocolate company, Madre Chocolate.

Dr. Bletter also taught at the University of Hawai’i Manoa researching plants and migration in Thailand and Laos. Nat is the “flavormeister”! He recently offered a cacao/chocolate bootcamp, which is not offered on a regular basis. Ann Tuomela from Maui Chocolate Coffee Tours was interested in this, but he mentored her via phone and email. “He is a very nice guy, and for being such a “brainiac”, he keeps educational value in laymen’s speak”!

Nat has been a mentor for many chocolate makers in Hawai’i and globally, through his “cacao bootcamp”. He even mentored Ethan Swift from Island Shark Chocolates, and the folks at Hana Gold Chocolate! 

Madre Chocolate Hawaii

There are so many incredible chocolate products that you can view and shop on their website.
The Triple Cacao is an award winning bar and one of our favorites! The beans are from Guatemala, and the chocolate is made on Oahu. This bar combines cacao in 3 of its forms: tangy cacao fruit pulp and rich roasted nibs in a flavorful Guatemalan dark chocolate. You can taste how chocolate has evolved from a fruit to the superfood we love!
A Unique Chocolate Bar:

Nat’s latest bar was the Jaguar Chocolate Bar, and it immediately sold out! Jaguar Cacao (also known as Patashte, Balamte, Macambo, or Cacao Blanco) is the lesser known sister plant of the cacao that is used to make chocolate. It’s equally delicious and holds equal reverence in Central America as that of cacao. the seeds are used in drinks like Tejate in Oaxaca, for it’s mild almond taste, similar to milk chocolate. This bar is one of the extremely rare cases “white cacao” can be tasted outside of Central America!

Madre Chocolate offers Chocolate Classes. Click here to check out their schedule and see what it’s all about!

Island Shark Chocolate

Island Shark Chocolate is a vegan, small-batch craft chocolate company based in Hilo, Hawai’i. Nat Bletter mentored Ethan Swift of Island Shark when he first arrived on the Big Island. Another brainiac guy! Check out his instagram for updates and all things chocolate! There are many fun things to watch and learn from.

Hana Gold

Hana Gold is a plantation that was founded in 1978. They produce 100% Maui grown chocolate using the most environmentally friendly methods. We don’t know the chocolate maker from Hana Gold personally, but Ann has been to their farm and did their tour! They were also mentored by Nat from Madre Chocolate. Click here to shop their tasty chocolate bars.
We hope you enjoyed discovering Dr. Nat Bletter and Madre Chocolate Hawaii. Feel free to drop a comment below if you have any questions, and give us a follow on Instagram for all things chocolate and Maui!
Madre Chocolate Hawai'i

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August 2, 2022 Ann TuomelaChocolate0

I have been traveling in Europe for the summer, and have spent the majority of my trip in Spain. Spanish chocolate is insanely delicious, and has a long and captivating history. As I write blogs for Maui Chocolate Coffee Tours, we thought it was necessary that I tell you about my European summer experience. Keep reading to learn about traveling to Spain and the history of chocolate!

The History of Chocolate in Spain

The Spanish Explorers first brought chocolate to Europe over 500 years ago! The Spanish were the first ones who mixed the bitter cocoa with sugar, thus modifying a bitter Mayan drink into the delicious and sweet hot chocolate drink as we know today. Over time, Spanish chocolate has changed, but their love for it has never diminished.

Hernan Cortez was the first person who brought chocolate to Europe. Cortez was warmly invited into the Aztec dinners, where they would give him their favorite drink, the spicy warm (but bitter) chocolate. Cortez began to realize the great importance that the Aztecs placed on chocolate. During this time they even used cocoa beans as money! He decided to load up on it and send it back to Spain. Once the chocolate landed in Spain, the Cistercian monks grasped the knowledge of how to turn cocoa beans into the yummy Aztec chocolate drink. The monks were in charge of prepping the imported cocoa beans into hot chocolate for the Spanish nobility. They kept their chocolate knowledge a secret, and managed to prevent the rest of Europe from finding out for almost 100 years!

How chocolate evolved

Now, as the years passed, the Spanish recipe for chocolate was molding to more and more European tastes. The Aztecs had blended fiery hot peppers into their chocolate, but the Spaniards decided to go for a sweeter option, with sugar cane from the Canary Islands to create the sweetened chocolate that would eventually be a worldwide hit!

In the 17th century, the Spanish Empire and the country’s hold on chocolate began to fall. The chocolate secret was loose! First to France, then Italy, and suddenly the sweet hot chocolate beverage spread quickly amongst the elite and bourgeois. Well, how did chocolate go from European royalty to every person in the world? It took another 200 years! All the way up to the 1800s, chocolate was only served as a drink. This drink was incredibly labor-intensive, and very expensive to produce. In the 1820s, a Dutch chemist invented a way to make powdered chocolate! Fast forward a few decades later, and a British company produced the FIRST ever chocolate bar! And this is how chocolate was able to be made in mass quantities.

Eating Chocolate in Spain

I landed in Madrid, Spain, and spent a few days here before going to my final destination in Tarifa, Spain. One thing I can tell you for sure is that Spaniards love their chocolate. Every morning, from Madrid all the way to Tarifa, you can find a local cafe where the most popular option on the breakfast menu is “churros”.

Where I come from, I am familiar with “Mexican churros”, where they are rolled in cinnamon and sugar, and then served. But in Spain, they serve churros plain, with a huge cup of hot, melted chocolate to dip them in! You can get a giant order of 10 churros (that would be nearly impossible for one person to finish on their own) for only $2! The chocolate to dip them in is the best part. One cafe I found, offered many different types of chocolate. Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, hazelnut, white chocolate, and the list goes on! These churros are a must-have when you are visiting Spain!

Chocolate Tasting

My next experience with chocolate was when I went hiking on the Caminito del Rey. The Caminito del Rey is an aerial trail that was built in the walls of the Gaitanes gorge. It’s a path terraced onto the gorge with a length of 1.8 miles in long sections, and the path is less than 3 feet wide. The path is hanging on the vertical gorge walls, and you walk on this path that’s over 300 feet above the river. If you are afraid of heights, this hike could definitely make you dizzy (but it’s so worth the thrill and spectacular views)!

Traveling to Spain and Chocolate

Traveling to Spain and Chocolate

As soon as we finished the hike, hungry and exhausted in the middle of a hot summer day, we were waiting to catch the shuttle back to our car when we found a chocolate stand that was selling artisanal chocolate made in Spain. Of course, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to taste some Spanish chocolate and support a local company! The woman working there was very kind, and explained to us that many of her chocolates are sweetened with honey, rather than sugar. That is, locally farmed and organic honey!

Traveling to Spain and Chocolate

Her chocolate was very pure, and only had a few ingredients in each one. She offered many different flavors including : red fruits, nuts, sugar free, lemon, dark chocolate, banana chocolate, cinnamon, white chocolate with strawberries, lemon and ginger, and pistachio. My two favorite ones that I tried were the chocolates with nuts and the pistachio! Delicious chocolate. I wish I could find the brand and give them credit here, but they are very small and unfortunately I can’t seem to locate a website or social media!

We brought some chocolate bars home after this adventure to enjoy with my husbands family. They loved the chocolate too!

Traveling to Spain and Chocolate

You can find chocolate everywhere in Spain! Whether it be hot chocolate, chocolate croissants at the bakery a.k.a. Napolitana De Chocolate, churros with chocolate, and more! If you are a chocolate lover like we are, you must indulge when you travel to Europe. Everything here is so delicious, and has so much history behind it. Traveling to Spain and the History of Chocolate is one that goes hand in hand together.

I hope you enjoyed “traveling” to Spain with me and learning more on the history of chocolate. Give us a follow on Instagram to learn more about our chocolate farm on Maui, and the chocolate and coffee tours that we offer! Tell us about your Spanish chocolate experiences in the comments below. Ciao!


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