‘Farm to Bar’ Maui Chocolate Tours offered
LAHAINA — Maui Ku’ia Estate Chocolate is now welcoming visitors to its Lahaina farm! The Maui Chocolate Tour offers an exciting first-hand look at how cacao is grown and harvested right here on Maui, and then wraps up with a delicious nine-piece tasting among the trees.
The 90-minute guided walking experience is offered Monday through Friday at 9 and 11 a.m.
Participants meet at the Ku’ia Factory located in Lahaina at 78 Ulupono St., Suite 1, in the Lahaina Business Park and enjoy a ten-minute ride to the farm.
The cost is $75 for adults (13 and over) and $55 for children ages 3-12; due to regulations, children under three are not permitted.
All participants must sign a waiver and wear a mask and closed-toed shoes. Group size is limited to seven.
Social distancing is required in the shuttle, during the walking tour and the tastings. Kama’aina receive a 20 percent discount (“kam”), and as part of the opening promotion, all receive a 10 percent discount (“aloha10”); book the Maui Chocolate Tour at https://www.mauichocolatetour.com.
Cacao thrives in tropical climates, making Hawaii the only U.S. state where the fruit — yes, the pods are technically a fruit — can be grown outside of a greenhouse. MKEC’s visionary owner, Dr. Gunars Valkirs, planted his first trees on 50 acres in Lahaina in 2015, and now crafts the cacao into some of the world’s finest chocolate.
Ku’ia is Hawaii’s largest chocolate factory, where the company creates both Maui Ku’ia Estate Chocolate (from cacao grown on its 50-acre farm) and Ku’ia Estate Chocolate from cacao sourced from a single-origin family farm in Ecuador and in the rainforests of Amazonian Brazil.
“We are so thrilled to open the farm to the public,” said Dr. Valkirs. “Growing cacao is an incredible labor of love, and the more we can share the process with our community, the more we fulfill our Chocolate Kuleana.”
MKEC’s founding mission is to give back to the Maui community by donating all net profits to Maui nonprofit organizations.
Maui Chocolate Tour also offers chocolate tastings at the factory at 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. The price is $35 for adults and $25 for children.
“This is an amazing insider’s look at some of the world’s best chocolate, from farm to bar,” said Mary Britton, owner of Maui Chocolate Tour.
Dr. Valkirs leads chocolate tastings at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturdays. The proceeds from the tours on Saturday are donated to Maui Food Bank. The price for adults is $35.
The tour begins and ends at the retail store, where visitors can pick up chocolate drinks and brownies and other edibles, in addition to a variety of chocolate gift boxes.
From the factory’s rooftop Ku’ia Pavilion, guests can also enjoy a look back up the foothills of the West Maui Mountains to the cacao farm where they just were!