It was a great experience to visit the island of Kauai, where the trees and plants grow lush and plentiful. The label as the Garden Island is fitting. As we talked about in last week’s blog post, cacao is a product gaining popularity on the Hawaiian Islands with many small growers trying their skills in this industry.
We were referred to Garden Island Chocolate from one of our followers and signed up for their Chocolate Tour & Tasting. This was a fantastic way to see what it’s like to grow cacao. Garden Island Chocolate is located on the north shore of Kauai in the town of Kilauea. The climate is perfect for growing cacao. It’s warm, humid and the area receives plenty of rain. The cacao trees are grown in among many taller trees to protect them from the wind.
The first part of the tour took us through the farm where we learned how cacao is grown, see the different varieties and learn when the pods are ready to be cut from the trees. In addition to the cacao trees we learned about the various other trees also grown on this farm to help protect from them from the wind. We saw avocado, banana, breadfruit trees, as well as vanilla bean, allspice and cinnamon. If you don’t live in a tropical region this is not something you normally see.
After our walk through the farm, we focused on the chocolate tasting portion of the tour. We tasted a variety of different chocolates made from one type of cocoa beans (single origin beans) or a blend of beans, beans that were grown on site and beans that were grown from other trees on the island or from other places around the world. As with any kind of tastings such as with wine or coffee it’s fun to experience the texture, the initial taste and the after taste. Some tasted earthy, fruity, floral, nutty and of course chocolaty. Our tastings included chocolate with fruit, nuts, cereal and spices. It’s fun to see what you can add to make a fun eating experience.
A demonstration of making traditional drinking chocolate was included. This recipe is also a great vegan way to enjoy drinking chocolate. You can watch their demonstration here.
Garden Island Chocolate works with their community on Kauai by buying cacao from other local growers to include in their small batches of chocolate, hosting school groups and providing other educational events.
The tours are available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s best to make a reservation as it’s a popular activity to participate in.