CONGRATS!, YOU'VE FOUND THE ULTIMATE
"Please don't call this a factory," said our tour guide at this lovely stop on the road to Hana.
She has a point. Stopping off at the Hana Gold chocolate tour is about trees - and of course, the cacao bean. On the way down the winding road to Hana on the island of Maui, you'll see an unassuming sign that says Chocolate factory. Drive too fast and you'll miss it.
Drive up an unpaved road and you're there. Members of the family-run business greet you like family. They show you one of the cacao trees where the beans are harvested. The beans are dried in the sun and turned by hand to draw out the flavor. You're explained how the bean is ground and turned into various types of chocolate. Unlike many other chocolate makers, the only ingredient are beans, a bit of sugar and, with milk chocolate, milk.
You're then presented with a plate filled with treats, including a honey-like glaze from the inside of the cacao pod and samples of chocolate. The Hana beans have a rich dark taste, which is part of the advantage of the personalized process.
This basic tour is free, but you can sign up for a more comprehensive one for $40. That tour allows you to take the chocolate at various stages of the process.
As we left, our guide handed us a Maui banana (which is very different than those you get in the store) and said, "everything in Hana is happy and delicious."