Mānoa Chocolate’s New Chocolate Factory Opens with a Drink Lab and Gelato Bar
Taste everything from 100% cacao bars to a drink made with cacao fruit.
Photos: Martha Cheng
Dylan Butterbaugh is still waiting for his stone melanger from Venezuela. He’s been waiting for it for three years, but things are a little dicey (to put it mildly) in Venezuela right now. It’s OK, though—his new chocolate factory is up and running without it. Mānoa Chocolate began making chocolate in 2010 with makeshift chocolate tools, like a Dora the Explorer tricycle outfitted for winnowing cacao shells.
Now, Butterbaugh has a new factory just down the street from the original space above Cinnamon’s in Kailua (it’s still open for chocolate tastings), and lots of fancy, shiny Italian-made chocolate equipment. The new spot is capable of churning out 50,000 chocolate bars a month, more than twice as many as the old spot.
Butterbaugh, leading a chocolate tour and thinking about his stone melanger.
Also new is a drink lab, where you can taste a variety of local and international coffee, whatever iced chocolate concoction Mānoa Chocolate is shaking up at the moment, and—my favorite—a cacao spritzer. It’s made from cacao pulp, the viscous, lycheelike fruit surrounding the cacao seed. It’s pretty rare to taste: it’s highly perishable and is a byproduct of cacao processing that’s usually either wasted or saved by the farmers as their little secret. But Mānoa Chocolate gets the syrupy juice from an Ecuadorian farm, cuts it with water and carbonates it for a fizzy, lightly tart and super refreshing drink. You can also get gelato (flavors include Mānoa Chocolate, duh), made by Il Gelato.
At the onsite shop, in addition to a variety of chocolate bars, everything from a goat milk bar to 100% cacao bar, you’ll also find cacao nibs and cacao tea (made from cacao bean shells). Can’t get to the shop for a tour? When I tell Butterbaugh about my recent chocolate tempering experiment at home (things I do on a Friday night), he suggests checking out Mānoa’s Craft Chocolate TV, which leads viewers through every step of making chocolate.
Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 333 Uluniu St., Kailua, (808) 263-6292, manoachocolate.com