Pam and Bob Cooper, in a previous lifetime, didn’t know that chocolate grew on trees. Now, at their Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory in Kona, Hawaii, they produce 100,000 pounds of chocolate per year.
Bob explains it is the volcanic soil, rain, and sunshine unique to Hawaii that produces the distinctive texture and taste of their Original Hawaiian Chocolate.
The cocoa beans grow in pods that start as tiny cocoa blossoms. Lamont, the scribe, attentively notes Bob’s every word.
Cocoa pods turn from green to candy-apple red.
Inside the pods, raw purple beans are smothered in a white mucalage that tastes nothing like chocolate, but the geckos love it.
Phyllis, the photographer, can’t resist the gecko as he silently slips into view. The little green fellow, who moonlights as an insurance salesman with a British accent, was not bothered by her camera.
The raw beans are fermented in sweat boxes. At this stage their aroma is reminiscent of dirty socks. Even the geckos have disappeared from sight. When the white coating is gone, the beans are placed on drying racks in the sun.
The beans are sorted, roasted, shells removed, then broken into bits or nibs. The nibs are ground, mixed with other ingredients like cocoa butter, vanilla powder, sugar, and lecithin, and then tempered and hand-poured into molds.
Chocolate lovers from around the world travel to Kona in order to experience the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory flavors. Pam and Bob have become chocolate aficionados.