Taste Lonohana Estate Chocolate’s First Release of the 2020 Harvest and New Flavors
New bars include hibiscus, coffee crunch and coconut banana.
The chocolate harvest must go on. The pandemic shut down Lonohana’s chocolate shop at Salt in Kaka‘ako but could not stop Lonohana’s cacao from fruiting. Owner Seneca Klassen spent most of the lockdown period at his 14-acre cacao farm on the North Shore, picking pods and processing cacao. Now, the shop has reopened, and it recently debuted the first batch of bars made from this year’s first harvest. “It’s our first look at this harvest, which is always cool,” says Klassen. The 67% bar is a touch sweeter than Lonohana’s usual dark chocolate bars, but it still carries the berry brightness of North Shore cacao.
The beans in this current release are from the beginning of the 2020 season. “The way we work our way into the seasons is a bit of a calibrating act for me,” says Klassen. “First, you’re dealing with fruit that’s on the shoulder—the raw materials are a little weird and more variable.” He smooths out the “weirdness” with a bit of cocoa butter. As the mid-season harvest finishes aging and is ready to make into chocolate, Klassen anticipates his formulations will be darker—in the 73% to 77% range.
From left: North Shore 67% dark chocolate, jasmine tea dark milk chocolate, hibiscus dark milk chocolate
Klassen has also introduced some new flavors in his bars, which are primarily made with cacao grown on his own farm, though he also creates bars with other local and imported cacao (each bar is labelled with its cacao’s origins). There’s a dark milk bar sprinkled with locally grown, dried hibiscus, lending a tangy touch; coffee crunch, like a mocha in bar form, with the crunch of cacao nibs; and a coconut milk chocolate bar, studded with dried apple bananas. A not so new release, but still one of my favorites, is the jasmine tea bar, a version of the chocolate drink that the Lonohana shop sells—chocolate infused with heady, floral jasmine tea. This isn’t a delicate touch of jasmine—the flower’s power asserts itself against the fudgy, sweet dark milk Ecuadorian and Dominican Republic chocolate.
You can buy the bars online, but if you want the chocolate Thai tea, order ahead for pickup or in person at Lonohana’s shop. It’s also worth going to shop, for as the only bean-to-bar maker in town (Mānoa Chocolate is in Kailua and Madre Chocolate’s sales are all online), a visit means free chocolate samples. Because we could all use a little sweetness now.
Bars $14 to $16, Salt at Our Kaka‘ako, 324 Coral St., #104A, (808) 286-8531, lonohana.com