WAILUA — You get to make your own chocolate bar at Debbie Williamson’s shop, and you can sip on chocolate tea while you do it.
Tucked away alongside Kuhio Highway in Wailua, Wild Kauai Chocolate is situated in a little slice of space that smells like confection the second you walk through the door.
Williamson is usually busy behind a high counter, pouring cacao into a grinder or transferring pans of liquid chocolate to and from the melter. That’s when she’s not busy with customers, though.
“The real business is the chocolate bar workshop,” Williamson said as she trimmed the edges of a 100-percent chocolate bar. She wrapped it in gold foil and then tucked it into an envelope — packaging made by a Michigan company that used to manufacture ATM envelopes.
She can fit 12 people at a time into the shop, and customers get to be chocolate-makers for a day.
She starts out the workshop showing how she roasts the cacao beans and then separates them from the husks, and grinds them with sugar — or no sugar for the 100-percent bar — until they become smooth.
Then Williamson pours a pan full of chocolate out on the counter.
That’s when everyone gets to dive in, moving the chocolate around on the counter until the temperature lowers.
It all wraps up with customers taking two chocolate bars home.
Mondays, Williamson makes chocolate herself, filling orders for retail at different locations on Kauai and online orders for chocolate bars. She also sells chocolate husk tea to the tune of about 50, four-ounce bags a week.
Cacao for Williamson’s bars is sourced from a few little farms on Kauai, including Princeville Botanical Gardens. She isn’t able to use 100 percent Kauai cacao because there isn’t enough supply, so she also sources out of Ecuador.
Currently, the 100-percent chocolate bar is one of the most popular because it contains zero sugar.
Williamson promotes the health advantages of pure chocolate, such as its high antioxidant or magnesium content.
She has some other staple varieties, and bars that she’s co-created with businesses like Eat Healthy restaurant and Imua Coffee.
“I love partnering with the local businesses to make new products. We all get so excited,” Williamson said. “I’m working on one with Papaya’s (natural food store) now.”
Williamson learned the art of chocolate making in Brazil and opened Wild Kauai Chocolate in 2011. A certified yoga teacher, she co-owned a studio in the country at that time. She’s also studied as a raw chef.
In between filling orders and teaching classes, Williamson also brings on one person every month for a more-intensive, apprentice-type school.
“Usually someone comes to the chocolate school to open their own business,” Williamson said. “We get a lot of homeschool students and local kids, though, too.”
Jessica Else, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or firstname.lastname@example.org.