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Hawaii’s Big Island Chocolate Festival

In April I had the opportunity to participate in Hawaii’s Big Island Chocolate Festival. Many people do not realize that Hawaii is the only state to grow cacao commercially. Most of the beans grown on the island, stay on the island, being turned into chocolate at a number of small “tree-to-bar” operations. The purpose of the Festival is to introduce the island’s beans to a wider audience. I was invited to make a presentation to local farmers on small scale chocolate making. Most growers do not make their own chocolate. The beans are sold to the few chocolate makers on the island. As the farms grow and look for broader markets, there is a need for the farmers to understand the quality and flavor profiles of their beans. My presentation concentrated on the type of equipment we use in Maverick Chocolate Company’s facility in Cincinnati, especially our test batch equipment. I also acted as one of the judges for both raw beans and finished bars. While there is some great cacao on the island, there is room for improvement. Fermentation rates were inconsistent which produces off flavors. Fermentation is a big challenge for Hawaiian cacao because the evenings become quite…

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2015 Cacao Farm Trip to Peru

This past summer I had the opportunity to visit multiple cacao farms in the Peruvian Amazon basin with a group of 60 chocolate makers from 16 different counties. The trip was organized by USAID to promote Peruvian cacao exports. Maverick Chocolate has used Peruvian beans since the beginning – our Morropon and Tumbes are two of our customers’ favorite flavors.   The trip started in Lima with a tradeshow and exhibition from local growers and chocolatiers. I was able to sample a wide variety of cacao beans and chocolate. The most amusing part was the fashion show with chocolate covered dresses. The business aspects were also beneficial as I met with export companies, more co-operatives, and farmers.      The trip continued in Tingo Maria. We flew from Lima to Pucallpa then by bus to Tingo Maria. The countryside is rugged but lush. This area alternates between mountainous and Amazon River tributaries. We had to swerve around fallen boulders and washed out highways. Landslides are a serious concern and hazard on the highways. Crossing the rivers was done on ferries of old steel hulls strapped together with logs and an outboard motor. We drove onto the logs and away we went.…

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