Why Coffee & Cacao from Hawaii Rules All

Your two favorite guilty pleasures come from one U.S. state

If your day isn't complete without a cup of coffee in the morning and a bite of chocolate at night, listen up. Since both coffee and cacao require very specific growing conditions in order to thrive, you owe your favorite guilty pleasures to just one U.S. state: Hawaii.

Because of Hawaii's tropical climate and proximity to the equator, the origins of your morning cup and favorite dessert can grow in peace. We visited a few of the farms that produce Hawaii coffee and chocolate to learn what makes them so special.

Cacao

While cacao beans can technically be grown in the pocket ranging from 20 degrees north to 20 degrees south of the equator, the narrow margin makes Hawaii the perfect breeding ground. And it's the only U.S. state where cacao can be grown commercially. Small plantations, like Hana Gold on Maui, are making it all possible by growing, harvesting, shelling, winnowing and roasting their way to small-batch chocolate perfection.

Cacao beans grow on trees in large, heavy pods that take about three months to fully mature. One pound of beans will produce about one ounce (or one high–percentage bar) of dark chocolate, meaning cacao farming is no easy task. Hana Gold is a mom-and-pop operation, with many generations of one family working to produce the creamiest, highest-quality bars in the area. Their secret is a three-day grinding and refining process that results in the melt-in-your-mouth goodness chocoholics crave.

Coffee

Kauai Coffee Company is the largest coffee farm in the country. Located on Kauai, the coffee beans benefit from the island's wet climate and mineral-rich soil. Here, the owners have committed to a seed-to-cup approach, growing, harvesting, drying, sorting and roasting the beans themselves to achieve the highest possible quality.

Although a third of Kauai Coffee's roasts are consumed on the island, the rest is distributed around the mainland United States, meaning it's possible you've already tasted a cup. With a variety of light and dark roasts, there's something for morning people and night owls alike.