The Chocolate Life

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I had an entire morning ahead of me with no responsibilities! I ate an early breakfast, then visited the gifts store on the first floor. There, among other things, I found some local chocolates. I took the chocolate bars to the hotel front desk and asked them where the factory was. Within 10 minutes I was off across Yogjakarta in search of Monggo Chocolates. I found it in the old part of town, in the silver district known as Kotagede.

Although I had not phoned ahead, Thierry Detournay, the founder, was there. His official title is "Production Manager" and he co-owns the business with an Indonesian. At the time I arrived, there were probably 20 staff working in an old but clean house next to a charming courtyard. Thierry has learned to specialize; their major products are bars, made from chocolate manufactured in Indonesia, from Forastero beans grown in Indonesia. Indonesia is #3 in production worldwide, and of that, the vast majority of beans are grown on Sulawesi, a large island that looks like a "K".

Thierry mostly sells his bars to hotels and other tourist venues, as chocolate bars are unaffordable to the average Indonesian who earns $2 per day.

He has yet to mechanize, finding that it's far cheaper to use lots of labor than to purchase machinery that has to be shipped halfway around the world. Shelving and tables are all stainless steel, so he has invested in state-of-the art tools.

Tubes of chocolate truffle filling. They stay molten because the room is 85 °F.

Thierry has worked out an astonishingly successful technique for tempering chocolate. The room they work in is kept about 85 degrees F, so when they fill the molds, there is no streaking caused by the formation of unstable beta crystals. Also, because there is no machinery, he has worked out a continuous system rather than batch system, keeping the chocolate freshly tempered and producing optimal shine. Chocolate is tempered in stainless steel pots.

We visited a couple of packaging rooms.

Thierry is either an accomplished artist or he knows someone who is, because his posters are superb, as are his chocolate bar wrappers.

I found Thierry to be extremely helpful and friendly. We spent a little time speaking French (Thierry is Walloon or French Belgian), but his English was excellent and, not wanting to miss details, I suggested we speak English most of the time.

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Comment by Tibor Baan on May 12, 2014 at 1:14am

Dear Paul,

This is very exciting article. Do you have details on how the tempering was done? I would be very interested to learn a technique that can work in that climate.

Thank you


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