I was nearing the end of my sustainable development degree at the University of Hawaii when I stumbled upon cacao. I had become friends with a fellow student who was studying the viability of cacao as a value added crop in the state. He was harvesting the fruit, micro fermenting the seeds (aka cacao beans), drying them, and carrying out the entire bean-to-bar chocolate making process. I found this process fascinating! This transformation from fruit to chocolate bar was extremely rewarding to be a part of, and soon enough all my spare time was spent making chocolate.
Being born and raised in Hawaii, I always knew I wanted to generate a sustainable business here at home. After learning about cacao, discovering bean-to-bar chocolate, and experiencing the process, things clicked. Chocolate making checked many of the boxes of what I found important in a business:
Making a quality product from value added agriculture.
As the business scales, the more cacao and agroforestry trees we help plant.
We assist in building a sustainable agricultural industry in the state.
And not to be overlooked, chocolate makes people happy!
Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. with a climate appropriate for commercially cultivating the tropical fruit tree (Theobroma Cacao). Not only could making chocolate in Hawaii from Hawaiian grown cacao be a sustainable business, but it has the potential to generate an industry. The prospect of sparking an agricultural movement, from which you can create quality, value added products like chocolate is what kickstarted me on this journey. Mānoa's mission and passion for chocolate making to this day is rooted in this initial vision.
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 barbecue to roast and a tricycle-powered winnower to separate the cacao shells from the nibs! Now, after over a decade in business, we have grown to be one of the largest craft chocolate makers in the United States. Our Hawaiian grown chocolate bars have won multiple international awards, and cacao agroforestry in Hawaii continues to grow year after year. Each bar has been crafted from ethically sourced cacao and the highest quality ingredients. We hope you enjoy the experience, whether it’s from a retail store in your area, our online store, or in-person at our O'ahu based Chocolate Factory.
Owner and Chocolate Maker, Dylan Butterbaugh.
HOW IT STARTED
HOW IT'S GOING
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. With this quality over quantity model we craft only the finest dried beans into chocolate all under one roof.
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 for the world's billion dollar chocolate industry is sourced from West Africa. Most 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.
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.