The Original Hawaiian Chocolate Company Farm Tour
Hello my friends, are you ready for another tour of a cacao farm in Hawaii?
The Original Hawaiian Chocolate Company invited me to join their regularly scheduled weekly one hour tour, so of course I couldn't say no. I met Bob and Pat, the owners, and their friendly team. Fernando even gave me his recipe for a cacao nib smoothie!
The entire farm, cacao fermentation, and chocolate making facility is on a beautiful six acre piece of land with views of the Pacific Ocean on the west side of Hawaii, just a few minutes from Kona. They have 1600 cacao trees and only 8 people working in the entire operation.
Cacao is growing just about every where you look. These pods were just outside of the gift shop area.
Of course on the tour you walk right into the areas where "cacao beans are developing flavor".
The tour starts out with plumeria shaped samples of the chocolate they make right there on the farm. Milk, dark, and criollo.
The tour is led by owner Bob Cooper and officially starts in front of his home on the farm while the guests taste chocolate. His southern accent from North Carolina tells the story of his farm as he describes each step of their process in detail starting with how many days it takes from flower to pod.
The tour then moves to the area under the cacao trees. Different varieties of cacao pods are everywhere and a thick layer of leaves crunches under your feet as Bob explains the manual labor, harvest schedules and the number one enemy of cacao, mold.
On the way to the next stop on the tour we wander through the rows of cacao drying beds where Bob explains different varieties of fermented cacao beans are "presented to the sun to dry". Each bed also has a cover that can fold down to cover the beans during rain.
At the cacao processing station, Bob cuts open some a cacao pod to reveal the beans as he explains more about the fermentation process including temperatures and the impact of the acetic and lactic acids that stimulate flavor. Directly behind and to the left side of are fermentation boxes.
Geckos are waiting and jump in for a taste of the sweet cacao pulp as soon as they have a chance.
Bob opened a fermentation box to show us the beans about two days into fermentation.
The last stop, just a few steps away from the processing station, is the chocolate production facility. Everything from the winnower to the 1000 lb conch, and the 200 lb tempering machine, which Bob is standing behind, is housed in this well organized and cozy facility. They are able to make over 10,000 pounds of chocolate here each year.
Fernando is a huge part of the the tour support as well as a key part of the farm. He noticed that I was the only one taking notes throughout the tour so he struck up a conversation about cacao. Since the criollo (white bean) and forastero (beans that are the more common purple color inside) are kept separate in fermentation boxes he was able to take a bean from each to clearly show the difference.
Fernando even gave me his recipe for a cacao nib smoothie.
Fernando's Cacao Nib Smoothie
Put into a blender:
2-3 spoon fulls of nibs
1 spoon full of sugar or honey
a little cinnamon
Blend with ice until you see the the color change to the color of chocolate.
Simple and delicious!
Thank you to Bob, Fernando, and the entire team at The Original Hawaiian Chocolate Company for your hospitality and a tour filled with more technical data than any other cacao farm tour I've ever seen.
Here is their site just in case you find yourself needing a tour: https://www.ohcf.us/home.html
A map of my cacao and chocolate stops in Hawii: