First, it’s really not a factory. It’s more like a cluster of trees on the slopes of Hualalai (which is unpronounceable in Mitchspeak). Secondly, the factory is more like a super-clean shed. According to the owner of the place, the technician that flew to Hawaii from Italy to set-up a centrifuge machine said, upon seeing the place (while drinking beer for breakfast), “That, is not a factory.”
Another thing; chocolate is not as easy to make as you might think. At Original Hawaiian Chocolate, they start with fruit from the trees and process all the way through to finished bars of fine chocolate. This process obviously involves growing the cacao trees, which are finicky about where they grow. Starting at four years of age, the smallish tropical trees will produce fruit on their trunks. This must occur within a nine-day window. The beans from which chocolate is produced is grown inside a placenta within the fruit.
Following the harvest of the fruit, the fruits are cut open to reveal the placenta and beans. This entire mess must be fermented to remove the placenta and flavor the beans. The exposed beans are then dried in the sun for twenty-two days. After drying, the thin shell is removed from the chocolate “nib” inside. This is done mechanically in a tumbler. The shells are vacuumed away.
We are close to chocolate bars now.
To finally reach the chocolate bar, the nibs are processed with heat and stirring. A bunch of sugar is added—those of you squeamish about that sort of thing likely don’t want to know how much. The processed chocolate is then pumped away and poured into chocolate goodies.
You can purchase goodies at the gift shop!
Posted is a photo of the cacao fruits, a gecko lizard licking at the placenta from a freshly opened fruit, and (just because I can) last night’s sunset from where we are staying on the island.