Being Sustainable Sean as well as Next Century Sean, I often try to connect into the new and noteworthy sustainability efforts whenever I travel. Each trip I take to Maui I do my best to add explore and share a new find. This trip I was lucky enough to get a heads up from Nicolette Van Der Lee at UH Maui College's Sustainable Living Institute of Maui (SLIM) about Manawai Estate Chocolate, a new seven-acre sustainable cacao farm near Haiku on Maui. I signed up for the tour straight away and am so happy that I did. My tour and time at Manawai Estate Chocolate will remain one of my favorite Maui experiences for a long time.
The tour was led by owner and Chef Melanie Boudar, a Master Chocolatier and Master Gardner, along with business partner Mark Meador and staff cacao guru Sinead Byrne. The farm is still in the startup phase so the tour itself lasted about 45 minutes but was packed full of history and information about the journey Melanie and the team had faced in getting the farm established.
Following the tour was an opportunity to taste the cacao bean as Melanie and the team led us through the process of making chocolate from roasted bean to a tasty beverage that we enjoyed on the spot, approximately another 45 minutes.
Next up and certainly the icing on the cake, was an opportunity to taste test chocolates (in bar form) from around the world and from Hawaii. Run much like a wine tasting, it was fantastic to have cacao aficionados leading us through the the intricate history and differences of cacao around the world and then honing in on the product options from Hawaii. All of them were ono (delicious) by the way but when tasted together, the subtle differences to become more prevalent.
All in all, a wonderful afternoon on a beautiful sustainable farm with great people learning and tasting great cacao and chocolate. I will certainly do it again and I highly recommend it if you are visiting Maui in the future. And make sure to support Chef Melanie's other chocolate venture online or in Wailea, Sweet Paradise Chocolate.