Kaua`i Chocolate & Coffee Festival

By Amy Hammond

The Kaua`i Chocolate and Coffee Festival was held on Friday and Saturday, October 21 & 22 in Historic Hanapepe on the island of Kaua`i, featuring local farmers, chefs, roasters, manufacturers and retailers. Despite the gusty weather and some rain, the event drew an estimated 5,000 people to the tiny town for the event. Nearly 600 attendees participated in the passport program for the event, which guaranteed them samples of chocolate and coffee. The event took place in the park on Friday night, in conjunction with Friday Art Night in Hanapepe, and again on Saturday. There were over 18 different vendors to choose from for chocolate and coffee samples. 

The Festival took over the town with workshops about both coffee and chocolate held at the Hanapepe Cafe. HCCA member Will Lydgate of Steelgrass Farms provided several workshops on 'Changing the way we taste chocolate.'  There were mixed media workshops and print making classes using cacao leaves for the keiki, as well as cacao plants for sale in Hanapepe.  There was ongoing live entertainment from the Tsunami Taiko Drummers, as well as Hawaiian music and a silent auction fundraiser by the Ladies of Halau Ka Waikahe Lani Maile - Kaua`i. Chefs from both the Courtyard Marriott Kauai at Coconut Beach and the Sheraton Kauai Resort held cooking demonstrations and chocolate presentations. The event was capped off with a Five-Course tasting that included a chocolate and wine pairing with dinner on both Saturday and Sunday nights at Japanese Grandma's Cafe.

Several members of the Hawaii Chocolate and Cacao Association participated in and attended the event including Manoa Chocolate Hawaii, Steelgrass Farms, Moloa`a Chocolate & Coffee, Aloha Chocolate Company, and Sara Martinka. The event was featured in a full page article in the Sunday travel section of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin the weekend prior to the event, written by Cheryl Tsutsumi. Festival coverage also spotlighted locally grown cacao when discussed in 4 radio interviews.  Hawaii grown chocolate was also featured in several newspaper articles bringing great awareness to the local chocolate community and highlighting cacao as an agricultural crop.