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Exploring Indonesia’s Luscious Chocolate Heritage

Exploring Indonesia’s Luscious Chocolate Heritage

Monika Febriana
07 July 2023

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Unveil the fascinating world of Indonesian chocolate, an enticing exploration that will leave you craving more.

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Are you a chocoholic?  It is no secret that quite a lot of people like chocolate. Its sweet taste makes it enjoyable to eat directly or use as an ingredient in various types of food, particularly pastries, and desserts.

This delectable treat is crafted from cocoa pods that are carefully cultivated and expertly processed, transforming them into a delectable delight. While cocoa pods have their origins in South America, numerous countries, including Indonesia, have triumphantly embraced their cultivation.

Did you know that Indonesia is one of the world’s largest chocolate producers?

Indonesia’s position in global chocolate production is truly remarkable. According to data from the International Cocoa Organization for 2021/2022, Indonesia ranks 7th as a cocoa producer in the world, with a total of 180,000 tons. This demonstrates that Indonesia can compete with other countries in cocoa production.

Indonesia's Chocolate History

According to various sources, the Spaniards first introduced chocolate to Indonesia. In 1560, cocoa was exclusively planted in the Philippines by Spain before making its way to Indonesia through the Minahasa route in North Sulawesi. The first cacao planted in Indonesia originated from Criollo, a variety from Venezuela and Italy.

During the Dutch East Indies era, more cocoa plantations and chocolate factories began to emerge. Bandung became one of the cocoa processing centers in Indonesia, housing the C.J Van Houten factory—a Dutch chocolate brand that successfully developed methods for processing cocoa beans into cocoa butter and chocolate powder, which are widely used today.

Over time, the number of cocoa plantations in Indonesia continued to increase, especially in the Sulawesi region. Each area of Indonesia also boasts chocolate with distinct characteristics.

Map of Cocoa Distribution in Indonesia

As one of the largest cocoa-producing countries in the world, the Central Statistics Agency (Badan Pusat Statistik) recorded that national cocoa production in 2021 reached 706.5 thousand tons. This figure represents a 0.97% decrease from the previous year, which amounted to 713.4 thousand tons. Sulawesi is the province that produces the highest quantity of cocoa, followed by several other regions, such as Lampung and Aceh. Here are some of the regions in Indonesia that produce the most cocoa:

  1. Central Sulawesi: 130.6 thousand tons
  2. Southeast Sulawesi: 114.8 thousand tons
  3. South Sulawesi: 107.1 thousand tons
  4. West Sulawesi: 70.9 thousand tons
  5. Lampung: 54.8 thousand tons
  6. Aceh: 40.9 thousand tons
  7. West Sumatra: 40.2 thousand tons

Characteristics of Indonesian Chocolate

Now, let’s delve into the characteristics of chocolate in Indonesia. Chocolate originating from Indonesia possesses unique characteristics influenced by the specific planting location and environment. Similar to coffee, Indonesian chocolate exhibits earthy, nutty, and fruity flavors.

To help you distinguish and find chocolate with the desired taste profile, here is a summary of the characteristics of Indonesian chocolate:

Glenmore, East Jawa
Glenmore chocolate, native to Banyuwangi, East Java, and also known as Java cacao, offers a sour taste derived from white edel cocoa beans. Moreover, this chocolate has a distinct berry flavor that leaves a strong aftertaste.

Pidie Jaya, Aceh
Pidie Jaya district, located in Aceh, is one of the cocoa plantation areas in Indonesia. Chocolate from this region possesses unique characteristics, combining an earthy taste with nutty undertones resembling cashews, along with hints of coffee and spices. Furthermore, this chocolate has a dark color and a slightly coarse texture. It is commonly used in the production of brownies, candies, drinks, and chocolate powder.

Tabanan, Bali
Apart from being renowned for its delicious food and abundant spices, Bali also offers a type of chocolate with unique taste characteristics. Chocolate from Tabanan, Bali has a smooth and creamy flavor akin to milk. Compared to other chocolates, Balinese chocolate has a more intense taste profile. When consumed, you’ll experience a hint of sourness and a refreshing fruity aroma. This chocolate has a sweet caramel taste with a touch of creaminess.

Tanazozo, Flores
For those who enjoy coffee, this chocolate might be to your liking. Derived from the dry plantation soil, Tanazozo Flores chocolate carries the aroma of cloves and coffee in every bite. In terms of taste, this chocolate has a dominant sweetness, eliminating the need for additional sugar during processing.

By exploring the diverse flavors and origins of chocolate in Indonesia, you can truly appreciate the richness and heritage behind this beloved treat.

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