A Chocoholic’s Dream Come True

Alana Folen
Wednesday - May 11, 2011
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Nathan Sato. Photo from Nathan Sato

Nathan Sato, like many of us, is a self-proclaimed chocoholic. Unlike most folks, though, he turned his love of chocolate into a business.

Thus was born Malie Kai Chocolates in September 2004.

Today Sato’s main focus is producing pure Hawaiian chocolate that attracts those with a sweet tooth - both locals and tourists.

“I decided I would start a business making chocolates that have a strong Hawaiian identity,” says Sato.

“We want people to experience the unique taste of Hawaiian chocolate. All of our chocolate bars and our soon-to-be-released gift boxes feature Hawaii-grown chocolate made from cacao grown on Oahu’s North Shore. We are growing world-class chocolates.”

Malie Kai Chocolates currently offers seven different chocolate bars: dark, milk, dark/milk, dark nibby, milk nibby, Kona Espresso and Kona Cappuccino. According to Sato, the bars cost between $4.50 and $6 each, and are available at R. Field (gourmet section of Foodland), Whole Foods, Dole Plantation, North Shore Soap Factory, Island Vintage Coffee, Tamura’s, Coco Cove and other gift boutiques in Waikiki.

“Currently, the chocolate we use is grown here on Oahu, but it is actually made on the Mainland,” Sato explains, adding, “this is because we do not have a cacao processing facility here on Oahu yet, but it is coming. I’m hoping that in one to two years, we will be able to make the chocolate here from bean to bar.”

In the next month or so Malie Kai Chocolates plans to release two new gift box sets- four-piece and 12-piece - of its popular North Shore chocolates. Sato says it’s his love of learning and creating new products, packaging and sales strategies that push him toward success.

“Without a doubt, Hawaii-grown cacao-chocolate is going to be huge for the state,” he says. “I would liken the island’s cacao industry to the wine industry in Napa Valley 50 years ago - the potential is enormous.

“Few agricultural products have the cachet that chocolate does, and we are in the unique position of being the only state in the nation that can grow chocolate,” Sato adds. “I believe in a few years we will see a new category of visitor to Hawaii - people whose sole reason for coming is to tour a cacao farm. Ag-tourism may be where the profit really resides for the cacao farmer.”

For more information on Malie Kai Chocolates, visit maliekai.com.

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