Plan to Attend the 2017 HCCA Conference

The annual HCCA farm tour and conference will be held in Hilo, Hawaii, on March 11 (farm tour) and March 12 (conference).  The farm tour will begin at 11:00 am at Hamakua Chocolate Farm.  Parking will be limited so people are encouraged to car pool from Hilo (driving directions are in the location links).  Lunch will be served after at Tom Sharkey's house, about a 5 minute drive from Hamakua Chocolate Farm (look for the white plantation farmhouse on the left side of the street above the Catholic Church and Kalanianaole Instermediate School). After that, we'll stop at Kazemaru’s OLA Kai farm. After these first two tours we will go back to Hilo and visit Mahilani farm on the hillside above Hilo. You’ll get a chance to see not only the farm but their post-harvest processing facility and their emerging chocolate factory. At the end of the tour we will have dinner at Mahilani. Lunch and dinner are included in the $100 fee for the farm tour. We are not able to process credit cards in Hilo for the farm tour or the conference so either pay ahead of time via PayPal on our REGISTRATION PAGE or pay by check in Hilo.

The conference will begin Sunday morning at Nani Mau Gardens. A continental breakfast will be served at 9:00 am while we conduct the annual HCCA meeting for members. Only Certified and Full members are allowed to vote and we will be conducting an election for Members of the Board of Directors and the President of HCCA. Other business will include a review of the finances of HCCA and the accomplishments of the past year. Any Full Members that are interested in serving on the Board of Directors should make their interest known to Gunars Valkirs ( well before the meeting. Certified and Full Members wishing to vote should make certain they have an active membership or should renew their membership before the meeting. Anyone not attending the meeting that wishes to vote by proxy should submit their proxy to Maria Carl Rogers (, Secretary of HCCA, prior to the meeting. An election notice will be sent out to all Certified and Full Members with the nominated candidates and voting instructions prior to the meeting.

Following the HCCA annual meeting, the conference will begin at 10:00 am.  The schedule of talks is listed below with expected start times. The fee for the conference is $125.


2017 Conference Schedule

10:00 am: Gunars Valkirs – A presentation about the newly enacted Dept. of Agriculture Rules for Hawaii-Grown Cacao and Hawaiian Chocolate Products. Examples of proper and improper labeling will be discussed. In addition, the state law for Made in Hawaii products will be discussed.

10:30 am: Matt Caputo – Cheese shops can't fill their cases without cheese distributors. Bottle shops need wine distributors. Chocolate is no different. Matt Caputo, president of our nation's largest craft chocolate distributor, A Priori Specialty Foods, will give a retailer's perspective on the important role only distributors can play. He will also discuss the most important predictor of success, packaging.

11:00 am: Lorenzo Datei from Packint Chocolate Machines will speak about the current trends he sees around the world. By supplying equipment, he has the chance to be in touch with everybody, from farmers that struggle to give a higher value to their cocoa, to US chocolate makers, to investors, to big industries that want to surf this wave. And of course, he will talk about how better technology can improve the small-medium scale bean to bar industry, and the common path of many small chocolate makers trying to grow up.

11:30 am: Dylan Butterbaugh will speak about his experiences in growing his chocolate company, Manoa Chocolate, from small to medium scale and the lessons he has learned.

Noon: Lunch break for 30 minutes.

12:30 pm: Colin Hart, cacao farmer and graduate student, who is leading the way toward better cacao in East Hawaii, will discuss local initiatives.

1:00 pm: Skip Bittenbender, UH professor and cacao advocate, will present his annual survey of cacao growers and the results to date of the UH variety trial.

1:45 pm: Mitchell Lee Marks of San Francisco State University presents the initial findings of a multi-year research project assessing the start-up of a new cacao farm with the objective, among others, of providing opportunities for native Hawaiians to develop entrepreneurial skills. In this highly interactive session, HCCA members’ input will be used to both build on initial findings and inform ongoing research.

2:00 pm: Dan O’Doherty will speak about his experiences in improving harvest and post-harvest processing and lessons learned from all parts of the cacao world.

2:30 pm: Derek Lanter will speak on starting a chocolate/agri-tourism business in New Mexico that features Hawaii chocolate.

3:00 pm: Gertraud Maskarinec, MD, PhD, Professor, University of Hawaii Cancer Center, will speak on Cacao’s Medicinal Uses and Current Scientific Evidence for Beneficial Health Effects.

3:30 pm: Chocolate sharing and no-host bar

4:30 pm: End of conference

Discounts are available for Friends of HCCA (one-time $25 discount on farm tour or conference), Associate, Certified and Full Members ($25 discounts on farm tour and conference for any number of people). CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.