Two Hawaii cacao producers have received medals for their cocoa at the 2021 Cocoa of Excellence Awards.
Maui Ku’ia Estate won a gold and Kauai’s Lydgate Farms won a silver for the Asia-Pacific region, while both were named in the world’s top 50 cocoas.
Their products were up against more than 230 other samples from 53 different origins, and were judged by a blind panel of 39 industry experts. Producers sent dried products to France, which were processed into liquor and 66% cocoa dark chocolate forms by a single chocolate maker.
It was the first time Maui Ku’ia had ever entered the awards, founder Gunars Valkirs said.
“I’ve always wanted to have world class cacao and world class chocolate. That was always the objective,” Valkirs said. “I didn’t expect it to happen this early.”
Cocoas from Papua New Guinea, China, Indonesia and the Philippines also won gold medals.
It confirmed a trend for Hawaii’s cacao, cocoa and chocolate, which has consistently won medals since 2015 and is noted for its fruity flavors. Lydgate said those flavors would only develop in coming years.
“We’re all celebrating that our region, that’s an emerging origin, is growing some of the best chocolate in the world,” Lydgate said. “While countries like Ecuador and Ghana dominate, Hawaii is one of the most exciting regions.”