Malaysian Single Origin Single Harvest Chocolate #MalaysianSingleOrigin

What is #MalaysianSingleOrigin chocolate?

Single origin chocolates are made from outstanding lots of cocoa beans and are traceable to the day and location of harvest, this also qualifies it as single harvest or 'vintage'. Each batch of chocolate is made from cocoa beans from a single lot number that are harvested within a single day from one growing location. Beans are cataloged, weighed and stored in a temperature controlled environment before they are either sold or made into chocolate.

We are currently harvesting from these origins. Availability of each origin may vary according to its season.

1. Semai (also means to sow) is the name of the indigenous people who we work with closely to harvests this cacao, through a CSR program that impacts more than 150 families. Located at the peak of the Malaysian main range in Pahang at an altitude of around 450m or 1500ft, cocoa here is grown in a mixed crop agro-forestry setting with a pledge towards biodiversity.

Beans exhibit luscious balance of tropical fruits, cashews, and red tea. Rainy season produces a profile that is peanut or cashew butter, tropical fruit profile remains but tends towards jam.

2. Hulu Gali is an origin that consistently surprises us with taste profiles from batch to batch that are not found else where. Located near Sungai Ruan, this estate edges a steep limestone formation. The presence of limestone in the soil buffers and increases the soil pH, resulting in deeper, earthier tones of chocolate. The cocoa pods here are protected against pests by black ants that are bred specifically as a bio-control so there is no need for the use of pesticides. Initial tasting of this origin indicates dark cherries, and toasted almonds in a lingering finish.

3. Batang Kali is located on the West-facing slope of the malaysian main range. These cocoa trees were planted in the 80’s by the Penang Plantation Co. and previously abandoned for years before they were rehabilitated. Harvest has peaked in October 2018 following strict farming practices. Beans are terroir-centric with prominent mineral, while exhibiting jaggery and spice.

4. Damak, single estate. Located at a saddle to the East of Mount Belum (Guning Belum). This origin exhibits either a bold profile or a fruity-berry profile depending on two styles of fermentation in oak barrels. Either style is fermented for six days using three turns, then gentle sheltered sun drying for up to ten days.

The fruity style exhibits black currant, red berries, banana and pear, while the bolder style reveals nutmeg, dark cherries and a lingering vanilla finish.

~ This origin is no longer available. ~

5. Merdeka, single estate in Tras, is our model farm and post harvesting facility, located in the famed durian heartland of Pahang. Although the monthly rainfall here can be as high as 1.5m, however it seldom floods thanks to the rolling hills and green environment. We are still establishing the baseline profile for this origin.

6. Temuan is the name of the indigenous people who we also work closely through a CSR program to grow cacao. Villages typically consists of thirty families. This was the first origin that convinced me of the flavor potential of Malaysian cocoa. The harvesting window for this origin is narrow, but thousands more cacao trees have been planted since early 2017 which will come to fruition in 2019.

7. Sungai Koyan rests to the west of Pahang, bordering Perak. Cacao trees were cultivated here around year 2006 at the source of the river. We are exploring the 2019 harvest which shows flavor potentials that we have not encountered in the other origins.

8. Melaka comprises of cacao from two clusters - Panchor and Lendu. Here cacao is inter-cropped with coconut and the coastal climate influences the flavor profile expression.

9. Chemor, at an altitude of 80m above sea level, is North of Ipoh in the state of Perak. Here we work with a handful of growers who tend to cocoa trees that are of mixed age but generally twenty years and older. Early in 2020 we collaborated with the research granted by the Malaysia Social Innovation (MySI) program under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), to develop nouveau fermentation methods that would make chocolates that are healthier and more flavorful. Typically, cocoa fermentation takes between 5 to 7 days, but in results just published in the Journal of The Science of Food and Agriculture**, we found a way to ferment for as short as 3 days, using cocoa harvested earlier; Yet producing beans with higher phenolic content, antioxidant, and epicatechin, each with reported health benefits. Notably, the chocolate acquired rich, yet clean flavors that impressed our tasting panels.
This is the bar.
*Malaysia Social Innovation program under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.
**Authors include researchers from the Malaysian Cocoa Board.

Chocolate flavors here exhibit tropical fruits, toffee, and a delicate woody finish.

10. Temiar is the third Orang Asli community whom we partner to produce an origin that is true to the region of Perak. Fermentation trials are underway so chocolate from this origin is available under the limited edition label for now.

11. In the month of December 2021, a cacao estate in Kelantan was awarded the best 50 at the Cocoa of Excellence Program*, an esteemed global competition to recognize the work of cocoa farmers globally and celebrate quality, flavor diversity and unique origins.

A remarkable achievement.

The cacao trees here are kept at above 3 meters, taller compared to the common practice, in the month it won the award, flooding at this estate reached 1.5m, but such flooding is expected. Roots reach deep into moist, sandy ground in order to anchor against coastal winds. Gifted with the opportunity to work with this origin, our focus is on retaining these unique terroir in each bar of chocolate.

Beautiful interplay of cocoa notes and wood with a coconut profile.

12. Kota Marudu, Sabah, is Malaysia's other claim at the world 50 best at the Cocoa of Excellence awards, from Sabah. Poimon, a gentleman of the Dusun community tends to the trees in this low land growth that is 2-3km from the sea, intercropping with bananas. Both Kelantan and this origin are coastal.

Beans exhibit floral sea hawthorn berry and robust red fruits.

- Ning