Dylan Butterbaugh, the founder of Manoa Chocolate, was born and raised on Oahu.

While at the University of Hawaii, one of his friends was hired for a research project assessing the viability of growing cacao in Hawaii. Dylan was enlisted to help test different fermentation times and techniques. Lucky for him, this necessitated making chocolate to check the results. Bitten by the bean-to-bar bug, Dylan took out a $3k student loan in 2010 and started Manoa in his parents’ kitchen.

Hawaii only state in US that has the climate to grow cacao. As growers have multiplied, Manoa has been able to source from a variety of farmers, but they decided to invest in their own farm several years ago and have already begun planting trees.