Cacao Farm Workshops-From Farm to Fermentation

cacao seminars

Presented by the Kona Cacao Association, the non-profit responsible for the Big Island Chocolate Festival, the Cacao Workshops are for farmers, tropical fruit growers and people considering growing and harvesting cacao, and producing cacao for chocolate makers. Both Dr. Nat Bletter and Dan O’ Doherty, the presenters are both leading experts.  Buy tickets here. Scroll down to the bottom of the ticket page for the seminar tickets. Please share! This is an amazing opportunity to learn and ask questions!

Friday, May 13th 11 am- 2 pm

  • 11 a.m- 12:30 pm Seminar: “The Art and Craft of Cacao Fermentation” by Dr. Nat Bletter of O’ahu’s Madre Chocolate. Find out why fermenting is the most important step for determining flavor in tree-to-bar chocolate making.
  • 12:30 p.m-1:30 pm Seminar: “Cacao Farming-From Bean to the Bank” by Dan O’Doherty of O’ahu’s Cacao Services Agriculture and Scientific Consulting. Learn about grafting, varietal selection, orchard planning and management, plus the economics of farm size.
  • 1:30-2:00 pm Seminar: “How To Start a Hawaiian Chocolate Factory” by Dylan Butterbaugh. Take it from someone who did it! In 2010, Dylan launched his company in Oahu with a focus on ethical sourcing and high quality local manufacturing.

Q&A of all speakers will occur directly after the last presentation.


DanOdohertyDan O’Doherty, owner of Cacao Services,Inc. based in Honolulu, is an agricultural and scientific consulting company that specifically focuses on cacao production systems. Dan is a world-class expert in numerous aspects of cacao, from starting farms to fermenting beans. After completing a bachelor’s of science in psychology and a master’s of science in botany, Dan has worked and studied cacao extensively as a University of Hawaii researcher and as a private consultant. Cacao Services’ mission is to foster the development of an economically viable and environmentally sustainable fine / flavor grade-cacao industry, and to establish meaningful connections between farmers and chocolate makers in Hawaii and across the globe.

Dr. Nat Bletter, co founder and flavormeister of Madre Chocolate, has 15 years of experience in botany, documenting exotic fruits and vegetables, gathering food in the wild, herbal and traditional medicine, and exploring Asia, South America, Central America, and Africa. He has a Ph.D. in Ethnobotany from the CiNatBletterty University of New York and New York Botanical Garden, where he researched medicinal plants of Peru, Mali, and the Guatemalan Mayans, ethnobotany, taste-modifying plants, and stimulant plants such as cacao, which has spurred him to start a traditional-ingredient, high-antioxidant, artisinal chocolate company Madre Chocolate. He will co-lead a culinary, medicinal plant, and music tour in Bali where he has spent many months exploring the landscape, music, fruits, food and medicine since 1994. He now works at University of Hawai’i Manoa researching plants and migration in Thailand and Laos, and making chocolate from scratch.

Dylan Butterbaugh and founder, Manoa Chocolate Hawaii.

Dylan Butterbaugh is the Founder and Chocolate Maker of Mānoa Chocolate Hawaii, a bean-to-bar craft chocolate factory located in Kailua, Oahu. In Hawaiian language, mānoa is a descriptor meaning, “thick, solid, vast; depth” and refers to the depth of flavor and complexity found in dark chocolate. Mānoa Chocolate Hawaii specializes in crafting single-origin and dark milk inclusion bars by sourcing premium cacao beans from the Hawaiian islands and around the world.

Butterbaugh was exposed to chocolate production at the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture where his friend was researching the crop, theobroma cacao. Through the processes of micro-ferments, roasting and tempering, he became fascinated with the art and craft of transforming cacao beans into dark chocolate and launched the company in 2010 with a focus on ethical sourcing and high quality local manufacturing.