Hilo-based Kīpuka Mills crafts delicious, authentic and sustainable food products from the upcyled nut meal collected after macadamia nuts are pressed. Kīpuka Mills offers oil, produces flour and macapan from the meal, and butter from the oil sediment. This ingenuity is a testament of renewal from what would otherwise be thrown out by others. After all, Kīpuka Mills is named after the Hawaiian word for the untouched space left behind when lava flows around a stand of trees and seedlings later emerge.
Founders Maria and Dien Short met at The Seafarers Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship in Maryland. She was a baking instructor, and he was a chief steward. Dien enchanted Maria with stories of his childhood on Hawai’i and together they dreamed of raising their own family there.
Maria and Dien moved closer to Hawai’i with every new phase of their life and in 2003 relocated their young family from Bellingham, Washington, to the village of Hāwī on the Big Island’s north coast. Maria started baking at the upscale Kūki’o Resort and a year later the family opened their bakery café, Short N Sweet. In 2010, they moved to a larger facility in downtown Hilo, where they expanded their menu of inspired homemade tropical fare and began holding events.
A lifelong baker and first-generation Filipina, Maria grew up in Massachusetts and attended the Baltimore International Culinary College and the L’Academie de Cuisine’s Pastry Arts program.
Throughout her career in restaurants, catering companies and patisseries, Maria sourced local products as much as possible, but it wasn’t until she opened a bakery on Hawai’i that she learned the true meaning of food security and sustainability. Hawai’i (population 1.4 million) is one of the most geographically isolated regions of the world, where 85 percent of the food supply arrives on barges and high land prices create tension between agriculture and development. Maria and Dien felt they could do more to rely on products from their island paradise and diversify their business.
When a family friend who pressed macadamia nuts for oil told Maria the leftover nut meal was a waste product given to pig farmers or composted, she had a flash of inspiration which has led them on a path of innovation and sustainability. To realize their vision, Maria and Dien partnered with foodservice and sales professionals in 2020 to launch Kīpuka Mills. Sourcing from local farmers and investing in infrastructure including manufacturing equipment, Kīpuka Mills is poised to grow.
374 Kino’ole Street
Hilo, HI 96720
8:00AM - 5:00PM