Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory Marks 10 Years… Nation’s Only “Tree to Bar” Operation

Media Release:

The slogan “made from scratch” rings true for The Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory, which is marking its 10th anniversary. The company produces Hawaii’s premier chocolate, a 100% locally grown and made product that has won numerous awards and accolades, including a recent top rating from UK chocolate reviewer, Lee McCoy.

Bob and Pam Cooper (front) and their team at Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory

Founded, owned and operated by Bob and Pam Cooper, The Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory creates three kinds of single-origin chocolate exclusively from 100 percent Hawaiian cacao. Their latest variety, criollo, is a rare chocolate, says owner/operator Bob Cooper. “Only 15 percent of the world’s chocolate is made from this type of bean. The criollo has a unique, earthy and complex flavor.”

Criollo candy bar

The Coopers grow their cacao on the leeward slope of Mt. Hualalai on the Big Island of Hawaii, as well as purchase cacao from local artisan cacao growers. Small tours and tastings are conducted at their chocolate factory and plantation…
During farm tours, Bob Cooper tells visitors a combination of factors give their chocolate its unique flavor: soil, environment, tree variety and the Cooper’s meticulous care in small-batch processing. Their “tree to bar” operation is the only one of its kind in the country.

Drying racks at the Keauhou farm

In hindsight, it was fate that brought the couple into the chocolate business. Moving to Hawaii in 1997, they bought a farm with coffee, macadamia nut and cacao trees. Bob decided he could make something special right in his own back yard, American-grown chocolate.
“Out of principal, we made the decision to both grow and process the chocolate right here to keep it locally made in the 50th state,” shares Cooper. “Cacao only grows 15 to 20 degrees north or south of the equator so Hawaii is the place for growing in the USA.”
Although Cooper admits he had no previous farming experience, there were pods to pick and so he harvested the cacao. Determined to keep it “made-in-Hawaii”, Cooper had his cacao tested by a world-renowned chocolate institute. Favorable findings reported the cacao as “prominent and forthright in flavor.”
Encouraged by this, plus supported by a loan from the state’s Department of Business and Economic Development, Cooper had processing equipment set up for a micro processing facility. The first batch of grown and made-in-the-USA chocolate was produced in September, 2000.
The Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory is a member of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s Seal of Quality program, which identifies the state’s premium, “cream of the crop” agricultural producers. Being the first to grow, hand-pick, sun-dry and process only Hawaiian grown-cacao has earned The Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory national acclaim.
The Kona company’s chocolate has appeared in the New York Post, the LA Times and on the Food Network, National Public Radio, America’s Heartland and Seattle P-I.
Original Hawaiian Chocolate is used by chefs in Hawaii and across the nation, including Peter Merriman, owner and chef of Merriman’s Restaurants, Chef Ron Miller, owner and chef of Hukilau Restaurant, Roy Yamaguchi, owner and chef of Roy’s Restaurants, and Kathy Smoot-Barrett, chef and owner of Kailua Candy Company.

Cacao pods resemble footballs

The Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory offers its delicious milk, dark and criollo chocolate in bars and attractive, flower-shaped Plumeria pieces.  For the true chocolate connoisseur, the factory also has roasted cacao nibs, which are the essence of pure chocolate.
For more information, call The Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory at 808-322-2626, toll free 1-888-447-2626. Original Hawaiian Chocolate is available at numerous retailers in Hawaii and on the mainland, and online at: www.ohcf.us.

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