By Dagny Brand

Highlighting the unique features of the Maui and Ecuadorian cacao beans, Maui Kuia Estate Chocolate grows the highest quality beans to create delicious and locally-inspired chocolate. “We started the factory on the proposition that we’re giving the net profit back to the community,” explained owner Gunars Valkirs regarding Maui Kuia Estate Chocolate’s mission. Ready for Valentine’s Day, Maui Kuia Estate Chocolate just released their Maui Tropical Trio Dark Milk Chocolate, flavored with locally grown mango, guava, and calamansi. 

With 20 acres of cacao trees and a unique direct connection to an award winning Ecuadorian cacao farm, Maui Kuia Estate Chocolate is proud of the high quality of their chocolate beans. “We realized that the cacao that we grow here in Maui is among the best in the world,” mentioned Valkirs. During production, the company works to “preserve the inherent flavors of the beans.” After the beans are roasted to preserve their quality, they are mixed with organic sugar and cocoa butter to form chocolate. The milk chocolate includes powdered milk with unique flavor qualities as an ingredient as well. In production, the company “lets the beans speak for themselves.” For example, the 2018-2019 harvest of Maui beans had a natural tanginess and apple-banana flavor. Valkirs added that the 2020 harvest has a slightly different fruity taste that is yet to be revealed. 

After perfecting the chocolate bar, Valkirs began to experiment with complimentary flavors to add to the Ecuadorian beans, which do not have the natural fruity flavor of the Maui beans. “Chocolate and fruits have always gone together,” said Valkirs, who added, “My most immediate inspiration was my childhood memory of candied orange peels dipped into chocolate.” After trying many flavor combinations, Valkirs decided that the blood orange, lemon grass, and peppermint essential oils paired the best with his chocolate. Valkirs spoke of the “finish,” which represents the flavor of the cacao or flavoring after the chocolate has been swallowed. “I chose the flavors based on the way they compliment the chocolate and the finish.” Maui Kuia Estate Chocolate also flavors their chocolate with small amounts of powders, including one made from pure local coffee beans. The Maui Tropical Trio is flavored using powders made from locally grown fruits. Valkirs added, “The Maui-grown chocolate is always unflavored because of the natural fruit flavors in the beans.” 

All of the delicious chocolates can be purchased on the Maui Kuia Estate Chocolate website. As part of their Chocolate Laulima program, which gives back to the community through helping local non-profit organizations, Maui Kuia Estate Chocolate is highlighting their new Maui Tropical Trio Dark Milk Chocolate. Buy a gift box of the Trio in Dark Milk Chocolate and 40% of the net profit will go to the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation! To support the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation through Chocolate Laulima, click here. For more information about Maui Kuia Estate Chocolate, click here