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Chocolates from Yogyakarta, Indonesia – A Taste of Culture

Yogyakarta (also called Jogjakarta) is well-known as the centre of classical Javanese fine art and culture. Home to UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the Bhuddist monument in Borobudur and the Hindu Prambanan Temple, it also boasts a rich tradition of Javanese batik, ballet, drama, music, poetry, puppet shows and…chocolate. Yes, you heard me right – chocolate made from Javanese and Sumatran cocoa beans.

While cocoa beans are known to come from South America and Africa, Southeast Asia also offers a host of cocoa plantations from Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam. In fact, Indonesia is currently the third largest producer of cocoa in the world and takes up almost 13% of the world’s market share in cocoa production. The Indonesian cocoa sector has experienced tremendous growth in the past 25 years, driven by rapid expansion of small-scale farmers. While the main production area of cocoa is Sulawesi Island, the remaining Indonesian cocoa production takes place in North Sumatra, West Java and Papua New Guinea, with some small production in Bali and Flores.

While most of the efforts are focused on growing good-quality bulk beans for the major industry players, there is a growing trend of cultivating fine-flavored beans for the boutique trade. Having chanced upon two home-grown Javanese chocolate brands – Monggo and Inyong, I was excited to find out how Javanese chocolates faired as compared to world renowned chocolatiers that traditionally come from Europe and America.

Of the two chocolate brands we’ve tried, Monggo comes out first-rate. Monggo Cokelat was founded in Yogyakarta by a Belgian Chocolatier Thierry Detournay almost a decade ago. The Javanese word “Monggo” meant “please” – a word of satisfaction that the locals use together with a thumbs-up gesture. One can tell that Monggo chocolates has certainly set a new standard for fine quality Javanese chocolates just by the strong whiff of cocoa when you peel away the Monggo chocolate from its wrapper. Monggo chocolates specializes in dark chocolates, and uses 100% cocoa butter in its chocolate productions, not cheap substitutes of vegetable or palm oil. With a selection of both bars and pralines, there is an array of chocolates infused with local spices and ingredients such as cashew-nut, ginger, mango and chilli.

As for Inyong Soklat , which means “My Chocolate” in Java, the chocolate comes through a little bland and there is a fair amount of vegetable fat used, which doesn’t give you that smooth and silky mouthfeel, as compared to Monggo’s chocolate.

Our choice at The Chocolate Space is most definitely Monggo Cokelat. So on your next visit to Yogyakarta, be sure to ask around for where you could get some of Java’s finest – Monggo Cokelat, which is a real hidden gem in the world of chocolate! Visit Monggo’s website at http://chocolatemonggo.com/.