The Chocolate Life

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Madre Chocolate's cacao boot camp on O'ahu Hawai'i Feb 25-Mar 1, 2014

Madre Chocolate's cacao boot camp is now happening on O'ahu Hawai'i Feb 25-Mar 1, 2014 during the same week as the Hawaii Chocolate Festival, Hawai‘i Chocolate & Cacao Association, and Kailua Cacao Festival so you can easily come for all three and have a wonderful time with a full week of chocolate! Even experienced chocolate makers will get a lot out of this by participating hands on and learning to tune the cacao fermentation process so you and the cacao growers you work with can tune the entire process to get the tastes you're looking for from fruity, nutty, chocolatey, floral to spicy. 

Experience Hawaiian Cacao & Chocolate Bootcamp on Oahu  
seed to tree/bean to bar

February 25th-March 1st, 2014

Oahu cacao farms, research stations, & chocolate shops

Join us for 5-days in paradise on a journey for chocolate. Practice farm skills in cacao orchards, visit with cacao researchers and farmers, learn about fermentation and drying for cacao, get hands on with bean to bar chocolate. Come out 

Do you love chocolate and thirst to learn more about how cacao is grown and made into chocolate? Never tasted the delicious lychee or mangosteen-flavored pulp of the cacao fruit? Want to see how the days-long process of fermenting cacao affects the micro-terroir of the chocolate flavor? This is the perfect tour for you! We’re having a cacao boot camp with everyone from Hawaii, mainland, European, and beyond chocolate makers and chocophiles coming out here to experience and learn cacao planting, cultivation, harvest, and fermentation and chocolate making for 5-7 days.  

We’ll introduce you to the cacao growers and fermenters throughout Oahu, an area we call the Napa Valley of cacao due to the amazing diversity of cacao flavors and microclimates in each valley up and down Windward Oahu and the North Shore. Each day we’ll visit, learn, and participate in a different aspect of cacao growing and processing with expert farmers, fermenters, agroforesters, university researchers, and chocolate makers in Hawaii’s burgeoning chocolate industry. In the only place in the US where cacao grows, you’ll have beautiful accommodations near the beaches of Lani Kai and Kailua or famous Waikiki, and you’ll be driven between each of the spots each day, with time off in the evenings to enjoy all the amazing local food that Kailua and Honolulu has to offer. 

Walk into the cacao orchards of Oahu the moment you step off the plane and begin your journey into chocolate making, Hawaiian style. 

Itinerary (details may change):

  1.  Day 1: Cultivation: Visit a small hillside organic cacao farm on O‘ahu’s windward east coast to help plant cacao trees grown along with vanilla, taro, guava, and many other tropical fruits. We’ll test for ripeness, harvest & crack cacao pods.

  2.  Day 2: Fermentation: O‘ahu cacao researchers from academia & industry will show you how fermentation can be tuned to bring out the natural fruity, acidic, aromatic, floral, and spicy flavors of cacao from different regions of Hawai'i and the world. Optional evening beach trip and group dinner. 

  3.  Day 3: Value added cacao, roasting, & conching

  4.  AM: Morning Farm Trip: We'll visit a long-standing cacao & fruit farm on O'ahu's northeast tip, where cacao grows among bananas, papaya, taro, Passion Fruit, and vanilla in full sun within feet of the beach, and we'll see how this farm is using cacao and all their farm produce to make amazing jams, spreads, drinks, and lunches for their visitors.

  5.  PM: Cacao Roasting & Starting a Grind: Chocolate Making Workshop 1. We will begin the process of chocolate making by Roasting cacao together and analyzing the steps and stages of a proper cacao bean roast. Then we will crack and winnow the beans to prepare them for the grinder. 

  6.  Day 4: Cacao agroforestry, conche completion, & inclusions

  7.  AM: Morning Field Trip: We'll visit the experts at the Hawai‘i Agricultural Research Center to see how they raise hundreds of cacao seedlings in a shaded nursery, work cacao in with an agroforestry program interspersed with native Koa trees, and how cacao is selected and bred for Hawaii's unique climate. 

  8.  PM: Chocolate with Inclusions: Chocolate Making Workshop 2. We will check on the progress of our grind begun the afternoon prior and taste farm-specific Hawaiian cacao as fine chocolate. We’ll practice adding inclusions to tempered chocolate, preparing chocolate molds and pouring bars. 

  9.  Day 5: tree-to-bar, tempering, wrapping 

  10.  AM: Morning Farm Trip: Visit and learn about making chocolate tree-to-bar at the pioneering Lonohana farm on the North Shore within site of the famous Banzai Pipeline surf spot. We'll talk to Lonohana's founder Seneca about how he started a cacao farm on Pupukea's gentle slopes and how he's turning this unique cacao into Hawai'i's newest esteemed chocolate in his Honolulu shop. 

  11.  PM: Finished Fine Chocolate: Chocolate Making Workshop 3. We will remove our chocolate batch from the grinder, check the micron levels for smoothness, practice with the tempering machine and pour our freshly made chocolate into bars. Once they are set we can wrap them to take home, or eat them! 

  12.  Catch your plane via our private shuttle van or stay and enjoy the whiskey and chocolate pairing evening.

Your expert guides Dave & Nat have traveled and tasted and researched cacao all across the Hawaiian Islands, Bali, Vietnam, Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Brazil over the past 16 years, working with cacao growers, chocolate makers, and chefs. Through this experience they will give you direct insights and connections with the people who make chocolate part of their lives everyday. Come experience the history and creation of chocolate as you never thought possible. 

Price: $1498 for tours, material, food, & transportation, excluding airfare & hotel


  1.  All Ground Transportation – Field Trip, Farm Trips, Sunset Beach Trip, Airport Pick-Up and Departure Drop-Off, Scheduled Program Activities. For best transportation we request that participants stay with our lodging partners. 

  2.  Breakfast Daily at lodging partner and Lunch Daily with group. Options for vegetarian, vegan and special dietary needs are available upon request. 

  3.  Raw Materials for Chocolate Making in Program, Field Note Book for Farm Trips, Chocolate for Tasting Sessions and Cacao Pods for fermentation practice. 

  4.  Workshops, Farm Tours, Facilitators and Instructors, Private Group Transportation and a real fun time. 

Does Not Include: Dinner meal, extracurricular tours or side trips, lodging.

Accommodations: We have arranged group rates of $100-200/night for Waikiki (Honolulu) and Windward Oahu hotels that we will send you on receipt of deposit.

Deposit: A deposit of $716 is required to reserve your space. To pay by credit card via paypal, click here: 


or call 808-377-6440.

Payment may be made by check mailed to Madre Chocolate at 

PO Box 12172

Honolulu HI 96828 

with program registration form. 

We can’t wait to have you join us on this journey from seed to tree to bean to bar!

Tags: adventure, cultivation, education, fermentation, growing, hands-on, make-your-own, travel

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