Manoa Chocolate is a craft chocolate company out of Hawaii that has been generating a lot of buzz and interest around Shenzhen. You may have seen these guys at various food/drink festivals, the product is proving to be very popular here and people coming back for more. The company was set up in 2010 in Hawaii and started trading in China in December 2016. Fetsum and Andrew are leading the China team and the knowledge and passion these guys have for the product is incredible. I learnt so so much about the chocolate process from bean to bar. If only all F&B businesses had this kind of passion!
A sustainable business
Manoa Chocolate company is built on a core belief of sustainability. Working closely with cacao farmers all over the world to increase both the quality and the monetary value of their beans is something this company does a lot of. They don’t think farmers should be selling their product short. The outer packaging is made from 100% recycled material, and the inner packaging is made from cellulose. That’s not something they needed to do, its something they chose to do. The Manoa company is also planting its own trees in Hawaii now, further enhancing its environmental beliefs while aiming to further improve its products in conjunction with these core values, not against them. The chocolate will try to move away from ‘bean to bar’ and become ‘tree to bar’ in the future. There is no waste in this process either, everything is used from the beans to the nibs to the butter.
Now when you think of Hawaii, chocolate may not be the 1st thing you think of, or even the last thing you think of. Surfing, beaches and sunsets jump to mind, but Hawaii is much more than that. And after tasting the products, my opinion of Hawaii has completely changed. This really is high quality, craft, artisanal chocolate. And it rocks! In fact Hawaii is promoted and used in most of its products, including the ghost peppers, Kohana rum, and sea salt. The product is proving to be popular all over the world with sales in North America, Europe and Asia. Japan goes crazy for this product!!
All of Manoa chocolate bars are single origin cacoa beans. Single-origin is grown within a single known geographic origin. Sometimes, this is a single farm, or a specific collection of beans from a single country. The name of the cacao is then usually the place it was grown to whatever degree available. I had the pleasure of sampling various different products. Here’s the lowdown.
The single origin dark chocolate, it is 70% cacao and 30% sugar, but it is not bitter at all. In fact it has a rich depth of flavour that is rare to find in most dark chocolate, I would say it is in fact the best dark chocolate I’ve ever tasted. There were single origins from Hawaii, Equador and Tanzania amongst others for this product
The rum chocolate was simply wow. As a rum fan I fell in love with this so im sure it will be the same for any rum lover. It uses Hawaiian made Kohana rumhis was in its product, the nibs are soaked in the rum before being added to the final product. It was a great taste and the rum powers through but it doesnt overpower the cacoa. This was a hit.
The seasalt bar was a nice multi taste experience, it had my tongue dancing. The salt brings out the natural sweetness and it gives it extra layers of depth and flavours rarely found in other chocolate.
Ghost pepper bar had a unique flavour, there wasnt really anything going on and then right at the end, boom, a great kick in your mouth. There are plans to introduce an Sichuan pepper bar in the future too for the Chinese market, so all you spict fans keep your eyes peeled.
There was also a goats milk bar which was a 1st experience for me, I thought it was rich and creamy and had a great taste.
Each bar comes with a wine and beer pairing suggestion too, perfect to give your palate a work out
Best and Worst
My favourite bar is the breakfast bar. Containing 60% dark chocolate and a subtle but noticable coffee taste, this is a heavenly combination for any chocolate and coffee fan. The crunch gives it a great texture in your mouth, and the familiar sound of a bar being snapped. Designed for breakfast snack, it can be consumed at any time of the day. This is the fan favourite, and my own personal one too.
Sorry to say there was one bar which I didnt like, the lavendar bar. To me it was too floral and reminded me eating soap (sorry guys). But dont let my own opinion of this detract you from trying it yourself, you may well like it. And in fact ALL of the other products far exceed what is expeted from a chocolate bar. And that is why these guys, are producing and selling the best craft chocolate in China. With love and attention to detail, passion and knowledge about cacao, Manoa Chocolate really ought to be the chocolate for you.