why i do what i do is an original series from AsiaOne where we feature people with uncommon professions and what it takes to get there.
Spicy mala, salted egg cereal and satay sauce.
Fossa Chocolate has incorporated these bold flavors into their chocolates before, and it doesn’t stop there.
The local artisan chocolate brand, known for its unconventional flavors, now has a tomato soup-inspired chocolate bar, just in time for the upcoming holiday season.
Yilina Leong, one of the founders of Fossa Chocolate alongside Jay Chua and Charis Chia, shares the inspiration behind the brand’s original offerings with AsiaOne.
“If this (flavor) could be in a chocolate, that would be great. Then I can bring a chocolate bar and have it anytime.”
With their new tomato and maqaw pepper chocolate, the founders wanted to capture that “warm, cozy feeling” after eating a hot bowl of soup, the 31-year-old explains.
back to start
The brand isn’t all about fancy flavors though. At its root, it was rooted in its founders’ love of good, natural chocolate.
Like most, Yilina’s love for chocolate began when she was a child.
“Growing up, chocolate was a reward for me, so it wasn’t something I ate every day,” she recalls.
At the time, his parents would not allow such indulgence.
Little did she know that her future as a chocolatier would mean consuming chocolates daily.
Yilina explains that Fossa Chocolate’s journey began when the co-founders tasted single-origin dark chocolate from the United States.
They were immediately blown away by the fruity flavors of the chocolate bar. A chocolate bar with an ingredient list consisting only of cocoa beans and sugar caught their eye.
That’s when they realized how “so much flavor has been lost” in the chocolates many of us have been eating since we were young.
This experience led them to think about the possibility of importing beans from overseas and making chocolates at home.
Be careful, none of them have experience in making chocolate.
“So definitely the first batches, I will say they didn’t taste so good!” Yilina honestly reveals.
Not that it stopped them from improving their craft.
Thanks to feedback from friends and family, the trio reached a level where they felt confident selling their artisanal chocolates at pop-up markets.
Why is it so expensive?
The decision to head to the pop-up markets seems like a whim as they felt there wasn’t much to do on the weekends.
So why not sell chocolates, right?
Unfortunately, the first hurdle Fossa Chocolate faced was that potential customers were put off by its prices.
Yılına understands that their chocolates are “significantly more expensive” than those available in supermarkets.
For example, a 50g bar of dark chocolate is $10, while their more creative flavors typically cost up to $14.
But being in an ephemeral market environment has its advantages. The founders had the chance to interact with people, let them try the chocolates and explain why they got a premium price.
At this early stage, Yilina and its founders noticed a genuine interest from people in learning more about Fossa Chocolates products.
The local company is passionate about its origin chocolate and often points out that it is the only type of chocolate it produces.
This means he tends to source his grain from a single farm or fermenter.
The big commercial players tend instead to use a blend of cocoa from different farms or different countries, says Yilina.
“When we saw chocolate, we were only looking for specialty cocoa, we work with partners who really appreciate, the flavor and the craftsmanship behind harvesting and growing cocoa,” she adds.
Bring on the bold and original flavors
Although it received positive reviews at pop-up markets, Fossa Chocolate got off to a rocky start when the trio decided to run the business full-time.
They realized that the artisanal chocolate scene in Singapore was close to zero at the time and Fossa Chocolate was going to introduce a concept that many were unaware of.
“So at first there were a lot of disappointments. And there was a lot of rejection,” Yilina shares.
Over time, people started to be more receptive to the idea of Fossa Chocolate and Yilina had no doubt what – or in this case, who – had driven this change.
“Our early supporters are the ones who really helped spread the word to their friends. [They] are our motivations.”
Today, Fossa Chocolate offers around 30 different flavors, but Yilina suggests they’ve probably experimented with over 100 flavors.
When asked to pick a favorite flavor, she struggled a bit before choosing Chrysanthemum Chocolate, for its refreshing taste.
“I don’t know exactly how much [chocolate] I consume, I probably don’t want to know.
“But we have yoga sessions in our office. Hope this helps burn calories! she jokes.
READ ALSO : ‘I’m still learning’: Self-taught artist Yip Yew Chong recognizes those who mock his techniques and precision
No part of this story or photos may be reproduced without permission from AsiaOne.