Chocolate Purveyors is a blog series where we connect and discuss everything chocolate with both makers and enthusiasts. This discussion is with Dylan Butterbaugh, founder of Manoa Chocolate.

Manoa is a Hawaiian-based chocolate maker. Hawaii is the only state in the USA to grow cacao. The story of this maker began in the labs at the University of Hawaii in 2010 studying cacao as a crop for the state. Manoa started as college students with no money and bootstrapped their business with ingenuity and determination. 

Their original equipment involved a barbecue to roast and a tricycle-powered winnower to remove the cacao shells. Now Manoa is the largest chocolate maker in Hawaii, and it’s in the top ten of the largest bean-to-bar craft chocolate makers in the U.S. 

Dylan Butterbaugh

Do you remember your first experience with real chocolate? What was it?

My first experience with chocolate was not enjoying it and taking it out of my Halloween basket. But when I was 23, I tried a piece of Hawaiian dark chocolate my friend made and thought he added dried fruits. It was delicious. He explained it was genetics, fermentation, and terroir that influenced the flavors I was tasting. I was fascinated from this point on.

How should the perfect chocolate bar taste?

Balanced. It can be nutty, fruity, acidic, or have spices but as long as the bar has a balanced flavor I consider it well-made chocolate.

Do you have a favourite pairing with chocolate? (Coffee, Beer, Wine, Cheese, etc.)

Beer, whiskey, and wine are all really fun to pair with chocolate. I think whiskey and port are both very good chocolate pairings.

Manoa Chocolate

How has your YouTube Channel helped spread the word of Manoa Chocolate and craft chocolate?

I am unsure how it has spread the word but it does appear to be reaching chocolate lovers around the world. We are trying to teach people how we make chocolate as well as explain the process and business so other future chocolate makers can get a good start at their own venture. I have been surprised by how many people enjoy learning about the intricacies of this process from tree-to-bar. 

You can visit their YouTube Channel here.

For someone trying Manoa Chocolate for the first time, what chocolate bar would you give them to try? 

Definitely our single origins. This is the main reason we make chocolate and what we find the most fascinating part of chocolate making. 

When someone visits your tasting room/factory, what should they experience and leave with? 

An appreciation and education about growing and making craft chocolate.

Manoa Chocolate

Do you prefer hot chocolate or coffee in the morning? 

I tend to drink coffee. I eat chocolate all day long.

How do you source the cacao you work with?

I have become friends with the farm owners we source from. I trust that they will provide us the consistent quality necessary for us to build our brand off of. They ship a sample that represents the larger batch they have for sale. From this point, we decide how much to purchase. This applies to Hawaii and the rest of the world.

What chocolate are you eating from other makers these days? 

We have a very large bag of other maker's bars. You name it and we probably have it in there. 

What does the future hold for Manoa Chocolate?

We are working on starting various cacao farms and plan to build our chocolate factory on one of them. This concept is similar to the model of a winery sitting on a vineyard. We will be able to vertically integrate from tree-to-bar and offer a wonderful and educational customer experience while growing and making really good chocolate.

Manoa Chocolate

We want to thank Dylan for taking the time to answer our questions, and we hope you learned more about Dylan and Manoa Chocolate.

You can buy the entire Manoa Chocolate collection at our online chocolate store.

To get started with craft chocolate, start with our Kekao Box. We search the world for the finest chocolate bars and bring them right to your doorstep monthly. From rich dark Peruvian chocolate bars to new start-up chocolate bars on the come up, you never know what you'll get inside the box! Each month we will curate 4 to 5 premium specialty crafted chocolate bars. 

If you want to just try a couple of bars, check out our online chocolate store.

If you have any questions regarding this blog, our Kekao Box, or premium specialty crafted chocolate bars, feel free to contact us! Keep up with us by subscribing to our newsletter or following us on Twitter and Instagram.