Gourmet Chocolate at Honolulu Coffee Co.

Donna Jung
The new afternoon pick-me-up from Honolulu Coffee Co.

Honolulu Coffee Co. has been rolling out gourmet foods in its locations, first a line of jams, and this summer, a collection of chocolate.

“We wanted fine foods related to coffee, either products with coffee in them or things you consume with coffee,” explains company president, Edward Schultz.

The chocolate bars ($7.50 at Honolulu Coffee Co. locations) are handmade for the company by upscale manufacturer Valrhona. I sampled three bars: one with crystallized ginger pieces; one called Dark Lava Rocks (with Pop Rocks candy mixed in); and what turned out to be my favorite, the macadamia-nut, sea salt version. All have 63 percent cacao.

“We wanted a little lighter blend, like a Caribbean cacao rather than an African cacao, which is more astringent,” says Schultz. For the holidays, he says, the company will feature a Peppermint Mocha bar, with candy cane bits and Kona coffee blended into it.

Also coming Nov. 1, the company will release its Alii Espresso, which was created by Honolulu Coffee Co.’s barista/trainer, Pete Licata. Earlier this year, Licata won the Western Regional Barista Competition with this espresso, a four-bean blend using coffee grown in Kona and Kaanapali.

Espresso, Schultz says, is usually a blend of beans from around the world. You might have a South American, Central American and African, for example, for their unique characteristics and flavors. “Pete wanted to do an all-Hawaii-grown version. So, instead of different locations, he’s featuring beans that are processed in different ways, using the traditions from coffee growing regions around the world.”