/ Chocolate Masterclass Programs/Farm to Chocolate Factory Program in Hawaii

Hawaii Cacao Farm

Farm to Chocolate Factory Program in Hawaii

The Farm to Chocolate Factory Program is an opportunity to experience the entire chocolate making process from tree to bar, and understand the business of making chocolate. You’ll be guided by experts Daniel O’Doherty and Dylan Butterbaugh through this unique, 5 day learning experience that begins on the Maui Ku’ia Estate cacao farm. You'll learn about modern best practices in cacao cultivation and post-harvest processing, and how these practices impact bean flavor and quality. Next, you’ll step into the state of the art Ku’ia Estate chocolate factory to learn the ins and outs of production, and building a chocolate making business. This program and the expertise that Dan and Dylan have to share are not to be missed!


Cacao pod

Next program: TBA

Registration fee (does not include travel to and from Lahaina, Hawaii nor accomodations or meals except what is noted in the itinerary):

$1500 US per participant

Would you like to be notified when registration opens for this program?

Registration fee includes:

On the farm training and instruction with:
Cacao farming and post-harvest expert: Daniel O'Doherty and Chocolate-making expert: Dylan Butterbaugh
4 lunches, including farewell lunch
Welcome dinner
Bottled water and snacks on the farm
Program does not include:
On Maui transportation and accommodation - we felt participants would prefer to make their own arrangements as there is so much choice in Lahaina, Maui
Any meals and transportation not specified in itinerary

We love these videos from Maui Ku'ia Estate that introduce you to the farm:

And take you through the factory where the section of the program on chocolate making will take place.


Cacao nursery

5 day program

This hands-on program starts at the Maui Ku’ia Estate cacao farm (see the patch of green up the hill in the photo above), where you’ll dive headfirst into cacao planting, protecting, harvesting, fermenting, and drying. You’ll understand how each of these processes impact the flavor and quality of the beans, and ultimately the chocolate that is made from them.

Then you’ll step into the newly built, state of the art Ku’ia Estate chocolate factory that both Dan and Dylan were instrumental in designing from concept to production. You will learn about how they have set up their machinery and production and the pros and cons of different options. You will understand their entire chocolate making process, and how they are building a chocolate company and brand, including marketing and distribution.

Program itinerary:

**Legend for meals included in your tour:
L=Lunch, D=Dinner

* Itinerary subject to change. Every effort will be made to keep the itinerary as it appears here. However, the final itinerary may vary due to schedules, availability and factors beyond our control. Note that the program starts early in the morning so you are not out on the farm in the heat of the afternoon which can be quite intense on this coast of Maui.

Monday: D

Independent arrivals on Maui. 4:00 PM arrival at the farm (instructions will be provided) for Orientation followed by Welcome Dinner.

Tuesday - Thursday: L

7:00 AM arrival at the farm. We will spend the morning working on the Farm. Mid-morning snack. Lunch with tasting and discussion of the day's learning experience. Approximately 1:00 PM wrap-up. Free afternoons for naps and nights for dinner.

Friday: L

8:00 AM arrival at the Ku'ia estate factory. We will spend the morning focused on chocolate making at the factory. Mid-morning snack. Farewell Lunch. Approximately 2:00 PM wrap-up. Free night for dinner or independent departures.


cacao tree

What more do I need to know?

This program is delivered in English.

Program participants must be 17 years of age or older. Also note that the program involves a lot of physical labor so good mobility and strength is important. Handicapped access is not available.

Our minimum requirement for this program to run is 6 students and the maximum is 12 students. You'll want to wait to book your flight to Hawaii until we confirm that the minimum number of students have registered.

Program certificate:

Students completing the program will receive a digital Ecole Chocolat Certificate of Achievement.

What our graduates have to say

"I really appreciate your school and as a farmer, to for the first time to ever lay my eyes on orchards and fields and trees and pods and fermentation boxes and drying racks was an exceptional opportunity. Thank you again for creating and facilitating it.” James, 2018 Graduate

"It was a wonderful experience and I have learned so much about cacao!" Siripot, 2018 Graduate

Want to know what past graduates have experienced on our program in Hawaii? We are always happy to connect interested students with past graduates. Just send us an email with this request!

Cancellation policy:

Our Ecole Chocolat Gradute Programs only accommodate a limited number of students and are usually full, with a waiting list. As the programs involve a travel component, we need to contact those on the waiting list in enough time so they can make travel arrangements. If you have to cancel, we'll do everything in our power to find a replacement but can't guarantee that we'll be successful. No refunds will be given after 45 days prior to the program start date. Make sure you're totally committed to the program before paying your registration fee. We also suggest that you take out travel insurance when booking your travel to and from the program country, in case of an emergency.

Your Instructors

Daniel O'Doherty

Daniel O'Doherty - Cacao Services and Hawaii Cacao Foundation

Dan is owner and President of Cacao Services, Incorporated. After completing a bachelor’s of science in psychology and a master’s of science in botany, he has worked and studied cacao extensively as a University of Hawaii researcher and as a private consultant. After four years of working with cacao growers in the Hawaiian Islands independently and as an agent of the University of Hawaii, Cacao Services, Inc. was formed in 2012. Dan now travels the world of cacao, consulting on all aspects of the cacao industry from blossom to bar.

Manoa Chocolate

Dylan Butterbaugh - Manoa Chocolate and Hawaii Cacao Foundation

Mānoa Chocolate Hawaii is a Hawaiian chocolate maker. Founder and Chocolate Maker, Dylan Butterbaugh was born and raised on Oahu. While still in college, Dylan was exposed to small-batch chocolate making at the University of Hawaii where his friend was researching the potential for theobroma cacao cultivation in Hawaii. By lending a hand in the lab and witnessing the process of setting up micro-ferments, roasting beans and tempering bars, he became fascinated with the art and craft of transforming cacao beans into dark chocolate.

About Maui Ku‘ia Estate

At Maui Ku‘ia Estate, owner Gunars Valkirs, is slowly building out 30 arcres of cacao in 10 acre parcels at a time. With the help of O'Doherty, thousands of cacao tree seedlings have been planed amid experimental windbreak and canopy trees to find just the right combination to promote optimum growth and health. “I’m taking my time, building a forest,” he says. “I’m hoping that Lahaina can produce really great flavor. It has rich, agricultural soil.” Terroir is important, but Valkirs thinks choosing the right cacao varietal is the key to exceptional chocolate, so he and O'Doherty have planted many different types of cacao.

Back to list of our other Graduate Chocolate Programs

Images from te Program

Harvesting cacao

Harvesting cacao pods.

lesson on growing cacao

Lesson on growing cacao.

cacao pod harvest

Gathering the cacao pods.

cracking cacao pods

We get cracking.

cacao fermentation boxes

Cacao beans go into fermentary.

Cacao fermentation temperature

Taking the temperature of the fermentation.

covering the cacao fermentary

Placing a layer of banana leaves.

cacao bean fermentary

Tucked in for overnight sleep.

cacao drying

Testing the cacao beans in the drier by eye.

cocoa bean roaster

Ku'ia Estate Factory Roaster.

chocolate ball mills

Chocolate ground in ball mills.

chocolate tempering machine

Tweaking the chocolate tempering machine.

chocolate packaging machine

Bright yellow packaging machine.

chocolate squares

Ku'ia Estate chocolate squares.

Want to see more photos from the program? Just search #ecmaui on Instagram


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