Good Talk Series: Inside a bean-to-bar journey ft. Fossa Chocolate

Good Talk Series: Inside a bean-to-bar journey ft. Fossa Chocolate

Interview with Yilina Leong, Co-founder of Fossa Chocolate

Ready to elevate your chocolate experience beyond the ordinary? Say goodbye to typical store-bought bars and indulge in the extraordinary world of Fossa Chocolate. Unlike anything you'll find on supermarket shelves, Fossa's artisanal creations are bursting with passion, integrity, sustainability, and unparalleled flavour profile.

Nestled in the vibrant heart of Singapore, Fossa Chocolate is renowned for its artisanal mastery and constant experiments with local ingredients and flavours. Today, we're joined by Yilina Leong, the creative force behind Fossa Chocolate, to uncover the inspiring story behind Fossa Chocolate's delectable creations.

GiftGood: Hello and a big chocolatey welcome to you, Yilina! Could you introduce yourself and share a bit about what drew you to the world of chocolate with Fossa Chocolate?

Our story began almost a decade ago, when we tried a single origin chocolate bar from abroad which blew us away. It was a 70% dark chocolate bar but its flavour was full of raspberries, almonds! But when we took a look at the ingredient list, there were only two—cocoa beans and sugar. It was then that we realised that there is so much more to cacao than what we are used to; the taste of chocolates could be so one-dimensional with commercial bars yet so flavourful with the craft chocolates. With Singapore being renowned for our high food quality standards, we were surprised by the difficulty to find fine real chocolates (made with real, high quality cacao beans instead of covertures, cocoa mass, compounds or substitutes). Fossa Chocolate began as a home experiment—it was just for fun. When we started we were hand peeling everything. It was only at the end of 2017 that we decided to turn this hobby into a venture.

Yilina, founder of Fossa ChocolateImage: Yilina Leong, Co-founder of Fossa Chocolate

GiftGood: Can you walk us through the journey of crafting chocolate at Fossa Chocolate's workshop in Singapore? What sets a Fossa chocolate bar apart from mass-produced varieties?

  1. Bean to bar. We are Singapore's first bean-to-bar chocolate company and have attained awards for our flavours at the annual International Chocolate Awards since 2017. Our small team of chocolate makers work very passionately to produce fine chocolate from sustainably-sourced cacao beans (from scratch, instead of melting store bought couvertures). We focus on bringing forth the unique flavours that different cacao origins have to offer, roasting the beans, grinding and tempering in small batches and finishing them in hand packaged chocolate bars. The process is time consuming but we love it. I’m sure you will agree it is worth it after tasting the chocolate.
  1. Quality & ethical sourcing. All our cacao are sourced without human exploitation, and we say no to commodity grade typically used by industrial makers. We pay a premium to get our hands on the top 5% of the world’s cacao crops from farmers and distributors who care about quality and craftsmanship, so that you may enjoy the deep flavours and complexity of the natural cacao.
  1. No additives & substitutes. Our Single Origin Dark Chocolates presented in its purest form with only two ingredients —cacao and sugar. We do not use any flavourings, vegetable oil, emulsifiers or chemicals to fill our chocolates. This range showcases the natural flavour profiles or cacao, and also caters to organic/vegan/health & wellness consumers.
  1. Bold flavours. We strive for harmony in flavours —ingredients that you wouldn’t think of putting in chocolate can be made unexpectedly delicious with the right combination of cacao. We constantly push the boundaries of flavours in the artisan range that we offer.

Fossa Chocolate

GiftGood: Let's talk beans! We know that Fossa Chocolate emphasizes ethical sourcing and sustainability in its bean-to-bar journey. How do you select and collaborate with cacao farmers who share your values, and what impact does this partnership have on the quality of your chocolates?

We source our beans from friends (farmers and traders) we trust. They are sourced without human exploitation and we pay a fair price to remunerate the producers for their work. We gravitate towards cacao that are unique in flavours and have the potential to make delicious chocolate. This includes Cocoa of Excellence award winning cacaos as well as special nano lots from progressive farmers. We use only cacao that are traceable to its source and provide full transparency, giving credit to producers where it is due.

Our beans come from around the world, including Central and South America, Africa as well as Southeast Asia. We try to rotate our sources seasonally to introduce new cacao origins to our consumers because the beans from different territories can provide vastly different flavour profiles. 

An important factor we look out for at the farms we work with is crop management and post harvesting processes. When the pods are harvested at the right time, fermented and dried well, and subsequently blended and sorted carefully, it is difficult to make bad tasting chocolate with the cocoa. The varietal and terrier will make every estate’s cacao unique but the basic foundation must be right. We seek out growers who get the basic right. We also love growers who like to continually improve and push boundaries. That makes things more exciting.

Fossa ChocolateImage: Behind-the-scene chocolate making, Fossa Chocolate

GiftGood: Reflecting on your journey with Fossa Chocolate, how has the brand evolved? Are there any significant milestones or turning points that have shaped its trajectory?

The COVID-19 pandemic has no doubt affected us tremendously and helped the brand evolve over the years. With much of our regular sales activities and production schedule disrupted at that time, we started spending more time on R&D and product innovations than we can usually afford. We find ourselves continuing with this practice even today.

Post-pandemic, we also expanded the team, combined our production facility & sales office, and created an event space within our factory where we regularly host guests and conduct workshops.

GiftGood: Looking ahead, what are some exciting plans or initiatives on the horizon for Fossa Chocolate? Any new flavours, collaborations, or expansion opportunities that you can tease for your loyal fans?

We are working on new chocolate bar flavours and other collaborations with fellow Singaporean and overseas artisans. You can look out for these launches in the coming months!

GiftGood: As we wrap up our conversation, is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers about Fossa Chocolate or your chocolate-making journey that we haven't touched upon yet?

We have just launched a new Bean-to-Bar chocolate making workshop this year! In this program, participants can step into the captivating world of chocolate making designed to immerse you in every aspect of the process, from bean to bar. Engage in interactive activities, explore and learn the origins of chocolates and its various processes, differentiate normal chocolates from a bean-to-bar ones and craft your very own rustic-style chocolates using provided tools and ingredients. Take home your creations at the end of the day and spread the joy of chocolate! Our debut run will be held on 13 April 2024, more details available here.

Fossa ChocolateImage: Artisanal chocolate bars, Fossa Chocolate

GiftGood: Yilina, thank you for such a delightful chat. Wishing you continued success and joy in your flavourful journey!

Before we part ways, let’s take a moment to explore the world of Fossa Chocolate and experience the differences that artisanal craftsmanship brings to the table.

Whether you're treating yourself, surprising a loved one or celebrating a colleague, shop our curated chocolate gift sets or create your own personalised gift box with Fossa Chocolate. Here's to making every moment sweeter and more impactful, one bar at a time.

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