HONOLULU (KHON2) — Ever been to a cacao farm? 21 Degrees Estate is a veteran-owned and family-operated boutique cacao farm located in Kahaluu.
They host two-hour tours in small groups of up to 20 people twice a week. Their tours include exploring their farm and taste testing the cacao.
Michael Rogers, the co-owner of this farm, said after 22 years as a Navy aviator, he met his now-wife Maria Rogers who was also finishing up her career in the Air Force and decided to settle down on Oahu.
“Both of us were looking to find a unique place to raise our young children that was beautiful and special in which they could thrive, said Maria.” “At the same time, we desired a place that would give us the opportunity to create a space and a vocation that was new to both of us but that also blended our mutual passion for Hawaii’s natural beauty with our respective skills sets. After looking for nearly a year, the lovely farm that is now called 21 Degrees Estate found us.”
After another year, they happily closed on their 10-acre piece of `aina in September 2014.
At 21 Degrees Estate, they believe in sustainable practices, and understanding and accepting their kuleana to malama (care for) and cultivating the land.
Their estate has other mature agriculture like apple-bananas, coconut, starfruit, turmeric, avocado, mango, guava, breadfruit, lychee and kukui, as well as beautiful heliconia, red, blue, pink, “shampoo,” awapuhi and “torch” ginger flowers.
However, they decided to grow cacao–a new and burgeoning niche segment in the Hawaii agricultural industry. Not only were they excited to be part of this growing segment and its equally growing reputation for excellence around the world, but they both love great chocolate!
“Our stated mission from the beginning has been to grow “best in class” cacao to make “best in class” craft chocolate,” said Maria and Michael. “We began by planting a superior high-flavor profile cacao for artisan craft chocolate with approximately 650 trees over three orchards.”
They said after the excitement of their first harvest in 2016, they enjoyed their first real production year in 2017–harvesting approximately 2500 pods yielding some 1200 special batch chocolate bars.
They say the windward coast of Oahu is sometimes referred to by chocolate makers and bean-to-bar chocophiles as the “Napa Valley” of chocolate due to its unique micro-climate, soil and moisture terroir.
“In this respect, cacao is most similar to the wine-grape cultivation where location and each new season and climate ultimately impact the final flavor profiles of the chocolate,” said Michael and Maria. “We are excited to be joining other Hawaii cacao farmers in cultivating this novel and unique fruit and have christened our farm “21 Degrees Estate” due to the latitude location of Oahu, Hawaii.”
For more information on where you can go to try their Hawaiian made chocolate or for information on booking a tour head to their website.
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“To create a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy, and just space with clean air, water, soil and power –economically, equitably, ecologically, and elegantly enjoyed,” said Michael and Maria.