Farm to Chocolate Factory Program in Hawaii
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Hawaii Cacao Farm

Farm to Chocolate Factory Program in Hawaii

The Farm to Chocolate Factory Program is an opportunity to experience the chocolate making process from tree to bar including the business of making chocolate. You’ll be guided by experts Daniel O’Doherty, Max Breen, and Dylan Butterbaugh through this unique, 5 day learning experience that begins on the Kamananui Estate cacao farm and ends in the state-of-the-art Manoa Chocolate factory on Oahu.

Next program: May 2025

You'll learn about modern best practices in cacao cultivation and post-harvest processing, and how these practices impact bean flavor and quality. On the final day, you’ll step into the state of the art Manoa Chocolate factory to learn the ins and outs of production, and building a chocolate making business. This program and the expertise that Dan, Max, and Dylan have to share are not to be missed!

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

Registration fee includes:

On the farm training and instruction with:
Cacao farming and post-harvest experts: Daniel O'Doherty and Max Breen, and Chocolate-making expert: Dylan Butterbaugh
5 lunches, including farewell lunch
Welcome dinner
Bottled water and snacks on the farm

Program does not include:
On Oahu transportation - you will need to have a car!
On Oahu accommodation - we felt participants would prefer to make their own arrangements as there is so much choice on Oahu from Waikiki to other neighborhoods.** Regardless of where you want to stay, book your accommodation and car EARLY as Hawaii has become a even more popular destination.
Any meals and transportation not specified in the itinerary

**If you are considering accommodation outside of Waikiki, the program start and every other day location will be at Manoa Chocolate: 333 Uluniu St, Kailua, HI 96734.

Cacao nursery
Cacao pod
cacao tree

5 day program

This hands-on program starts at Oahu's Kamananui Estate, 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.

Our instructors Dylan Butterbaugh and Dan O'Doherty discuss "Growing the Future of Cacao" in the following video.

You'll also be in the Manoa Chocolate factory with Dylan Butterbaugh. 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.

Sunday: D

Independent arrivals on Oahu. 4:00 PM arrival at Manoa Chocolate for Orientation and a short factory tour with Dylan, Dan and Max, followed by Welcome Dinner.

Monday: L

8:00 AM arrival Kamananui Estate farm - Farm orientation, orchards/tree exploration, baba tasting, harvesting, setting up the fermentation. Mid-morning snack. Lunch with wrap-up discussion of the day's learning experience. Approximately 3:00 PM wrap-up. Free afternoons for naps and nights for dinner.

Tuesday: L

Arrival at the Manoa Chocolate Kapaa Quarry Factory - Participate in the process of making chocolate in the factory from bean to liquor to conched chocolate. Mid-morning snack. Lunch with tasting and discussion of the day's learning experience.

Wednesday: L

8:00 AM arrival Kamananui Estate farm - Discussion of fermentation science and impact on bean flavor; turn the cocoa beans that you started to ferment, unload a ferment done earlier in the week. Mid-morning snack. Lunch with wrap-up discussion of the day's learning experience. Approximately 3:00 PM wrap-up. Free afternoons for naps and nights for dinner.

Thursday: L

Arrival at the Manoa Chocolate Uluniu Street Factory - Participate in the process of turning chocolate into molded bars - finishing the chocolate from Tuesday (finishing, molding, packaging etc.)

Friday: L

8:00 AM arrival Kamananui Estate farm - Check the ferment, genetic review of the cacao trees, exploring the nursery, and more. Mid-morning snack. Farewell Lunch to discuss program learnings and answer any final lingering questions.

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 may want to check the Hawaii - Planning your visit and pre-departure to make sure you have the right paperwork to enter Hawaii.

Program certificate:

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

Cracking cocoa pods

What our graduates have to say

"5[out of 5]= Far exceeded my expectations! Spending a few days on a cacao plantation taking part in all aspect of the process, from cultivating cacao pods to drying fermented cacao beans, is a rare opportunity that is beneficial to better understand chocolate. Truly such a unique experience that brought me so much in a short amount of time. I was fortunate enough to be part of an awesome group of people attending this course with me and having passionate instructors that were there to share their knowledge. I would suggest to anyone wanting to go in the chocolate industry to take this course.” Antoine, 2023 Graduate

"Thank you so much to Ecole Chocolat, Dan, Max, and Dylan for an exceptional, one of a kind learning experience. We started Harvest Chocolate because we like highlighting that chocolate starts as an agricultural product with a complex story and journey before it even reaches the hands of a chocolate maker. We are really grateful for the opportunity to spend a week with experts who are so willing to share their knowledge that goes above and beyond any other learning experience available. The program was wonderful, inspiring, and we would gladly take it again in the years to come!" Elizabeth, 2023 Graduate

"5[out of 5] Overall, I felt this program really provided that first-hand knowledge from Farm to Bar. Chocolate is such a complex crop, there needs to be an advanced degree in it! Dan's knowledge is Ph.D. material, and he should write a book! Max was able to deliver information that maybe we didn't understand, and helped reinforce all of the material. I felt that this was the best professional development that I've ever done!" Joshua, 2023 Graduate

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.

Max Breen

Max Breen - Cacao Services

Max is a Senior Consultant and Agronomist at Cacao Services, Inc. based on the island of Oahu. Before making cacao his focus, Max served as a sustainable agriculture Peace Corps volunteer in Panama. While pursuing a Master of Science in tropical agriculture at the University of Hawaii, Max worked in research and extension to serve cacao growers across the state. His current responsibilities at Cacao Services, Inc. include consulting for cacao growers in Latin America, Africa, and Hawaii.

About Kamananui Estate

Kamananui Estate, LLC (KE) is a 5 year old cacao farm located on the north shore of Oahu. The farm site is ideally located, with favorable climate conditions, soil with optimum chemical and physical properties, and an independent irrigation source of high quality well water. In addition to developing a commercial cacao farm, KE seeks to develop the first comprehensive clonal garden of heirloom cacao varieties in Hawaii and to eventually execute replicated field trials of high potential selections.

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Photography by Jessica Washburn, Bliss Chocolatier and Ecole Chocolat

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