Hawaii the state of scenic sunsets, gorgeous beaches, and chocolate? Yes, the “food of the Gods” is grown on the Big Island near the fertile lands where coffee and avocados abundantly grow.
A bit south of Kona, in a lush tropical setting with sweeping views of the ocean, sits the gardens of the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory. After parking in the dirt lot, I made my way to a yellow house and as I stepped inside, eyed displays of exquisitely wrapped dark and milk chocolates.
Pam Cooper, co-owner with her husband, Bob, warmly greeted me and the others scheduled for the chocolate farm tour. With her native North Carolina sweetness, Pam thanked everyone for joining the tour as we made our way outside to meet Bob. Chocolate aroma filled the air coming from rows of mesh shelves holding hundreds of cocoa beans drying in the sun. Sitting in the sun for up to a month develops the flavor before being processed into milk and dark chocolate.
Further into the farm, are over 1400 cacao trees which bear vibrant colored pods and are harvested every 2 weeks.
Extended leaves from the trees create a natural archway and it’s said the trees are social and hold hands. And it’s true farm to table with the pods crushed back into the earth.
Through a detailed process, and much done by hand, the harvesting, tempering and pouring liquid chocolate into plumeria flower shaped molds produces dark and milk chocolate bars. Another farm nearby grows the rare Criollo cacoa bean and the Copper’s make an exclusive dark chocolate bar from the beans. There is something for every lover of chocolate, milk is smooth and creamy, dark has bold cocoa flavor and Criollo earthy and nutty in dark chocolate. Local chefs know an excellent product when tasted, and use the fine chocolate for creative and elegant desserts.
The company is proud their products have no blending of chocolates or artificial ingredients and earned Hawaii’s Seal of Quality. And don’t forget that cacao is a rich source of anti-oxidants and considered by some as an aphrodisiac.
Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory offers tours that sell out quickly. Limited amounts of chocolate bars are sold in some shops on the major islands.
Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory
78-6772 Makenawai St
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Disclaimer-thank you for the sponsored tour and after the tasting, I bought many bars to bring home.