Dive deeper into the origin & vision of Mānoa Chocolate with founder Dylan Butterbaugh.
•••
Hawaii Chocolate Maker

We are a Hawaii based chocolate maker, which is a lot like saying "wine maker." Wine makers buy grapes and turn them into wine. Chocolate makers buy cacao and turn them into chocolate. 

A "chocolatier" is not the same thing as a "chocolate maker"; chocolate makers forge beans into chocolate. Chocolatiers buy finished chocolate and remelt it to make their recipes.

Our chocolate is socially responsible through Direct Trade of fine cacao beans from around the world. Whenever there is available Hawaiian cacao supply, we source as much as possible from local farms. If a given Hawaii farm does not have the scale and/or quality we are looking to buy, we can offer private-label manufacturing services to turn their cacao harvests into chocolate.

drying cacao with manoa chocolate

    What is "Bean-To-Bar" Craft Chocolate?

    Bean-to-Bar is a movement in chocolate, much like the growing craft beer industry, in the sense that we are moving away from mass production and focusing on smaller batches and fine quality. 

    Bean-to-Bar makers are also defined by the fact that we direct trade with cacao farms around the world, paying socially responsible prices for quality. In contrast, the vast majority of cacao is sourced from West Africa. Most of the commodity beans sourced from this region are priced so low that farmers cannot afford even basic living necessities. This creates human rights issues on a massive scale that include human trafficking and child slavery that are directly tied to the sale of cacao. You can learn more about these major social issues by reading this article by the Washington Post. To watch and learn more check out the series Rotten, Bitter Chocolate on Netflix.

    Craft chocolate is the opposite, rather than sourcing cheap to blend from a variety of regions, we source cacao at high prices and tell the story of where the chocolate is grown. 

    Background

    Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. that can grow cacao commercially due to our tropical climate. Chocolate is made from the seeds of this tropical fruit tree. 

    The story of our business began in the labs at the University of Hawaii in 2010 where our friends were studying cacao as a crop for the state. At this time, the global sourcing and consumption of cacao was beginning to shift in the sense that people are now paying attention to where chocolate is grown -- not only where it is made. For example, "Swiss" and "Belgian Chocolate" does not grow in Switzerland or Belgium! 

    As more and more cacao farms and research trials were starting to pop-up around the state, we realized that there was a need for local chocolate manufacturing - someone to buy the cacao beans and/or help farmers turn their crop into chocolate. 

    We started as college students with no money and bootstrapped our business with ingenuity and determination. Some of our original pieces of equipment involved a barbeque to roast and a tricycle-powered winnower to operate the cacao shells from the nibs. We are one of the largest chocolate makers in the U.S. and are still working hard to make better and better chocolate and help grow the craft chocolate industry as a whole. 

    Check out our original equipment as we set-out to create a Hawaiian chocolate factory back in 2010.

    Shop Our Chocolate! Select from a wide range of chocolate bars, treats, beverages, cacao beans, subscriptions, and merchandise.

    manoa products 

    Visit Our Factory & Tasting Room! Learn the art and process of bean-to-bar chocolate making, receive a complimentary tasting of all our chocolates, and watch our makers at work. Go deeper by booking a 60-90 minute guided tour.

    manoa chocolate factory mural