Three years ago, he was hooked by a single origin chocolate bar from Madagascar – a bar made from just cacao beans and sugar, yet with greater complexity in flavour than any other chocolate he had tried.
Finding few such options in the local market, Jay Chua decided to make his own, sourcing organic beans directly from farms and experimenting with chocolate making techniques. By 2017, Fossa was launched, and Chua’s bars are each a celebration of the craft – not just of making chocolate, but of growing cacao beans even.
“We source beans from farmers with proper farming and post harvesting protocols. To reward farmers for their efforts and motivate them to continue making use of good farming practices, we pay a premium of 300 to 400 per cent of commodity grade prices for the beans we source,” says Chua. “We also like to work with innovative farmers that utilise progressive fermentation and drying techniques. Unlike the big boys, we embrace changes and love micro-lots that have interesting flavours.”
Chua reveals that Fossa will soon be launching a range made from beans specially selected for their diverse flavour profile, and proudly shares that two out of the six origins used are winners of the Cocoa of Excellence Awards, an international platform that recognises outstanding cacao farmers.
Yet as much as he is a purist, Chua is also an experimenter. Equal emphasis is placed on developing flavoured bars, which Chua says is a way for the brand – now also available in the US – to keep a competitive edge in the international market.
Every two months, some out-of-the-box combinations with an Asian twist is released: think Shrimp and Bonito dark chocolate, Chilli Peanut Praline, and Salted Egg Cereal blond chocolate, which won the bronze prize at the 2017 Asia-Pacific International Chocolate Awards.
“The inspirations come from the food we eat and the places we go to: after a trip to Tokyo, two new bars with Japan-inspired flavours and packaging design were created,” shares Chua. The new flavours are carefully developed and intensively reviewed before a product with “a flavour profile that is on point” is released, says Chua. “We don’t just create innovative flavours – we create awesome tasting flavours!”