The Jakarta Post
It was 18 years ago when Cokelat Monggo was first produced in Yogyakarta by a Belgian named Thierry Detournay. Today, the chocolate, originally named Kulit Cokelat, has become one of the most popular snack gifts from Yogyakarta.
Production began in Detournay's house and was only handled by Detournay and his partner, Sugiasih, who is known as Asih for short. The business currently employs 160 workers in a house that sits on a corner of Kota Gede, Yogyakarta.
'We've been renting, but it's bigger than the one we first occupied,' said Edward Riando Picasauw, the co-founder of Cokelat Monggo. Otherwise, he says, there's not much difference from when they first started out.
About 80 percent of production is done manually, from melting and tempering to packing, Asih said. 'We've maintained a manual method, which makes Cokelat Monggo different from most chocolate products.'
Asih, now head of production, has been with Cokelat Monggo from the start. As a graduate of a hotel business school, Asih started working with Detournay when he was with an NGO in Yogyakarta. 'I used to make the candy myself, now I'm overseeing the employees,' she said.
The Cokelat Monggo factory and showroom is now an attraction, brining in people eager to see snacks as they as crafted from 100 percent cocoa butter. Edward and Detournay once called the chocolate bars Cocoa Mania before settling on Cokelat Monggo ' monggo meaning 'please' in Javanese, thus welcoming buyers.
Derek, 25, a tourist from the US, said that he had never missed a chance to visit to Cokelat Monggo when in town. The NGO worker says his favorite is the strawberry chocolate. 'I always come to Monggo, and I suggest that my friends come here, too.'
At Cokelat Monggo, visitors can have their own Javanese-style Willy Wonka experience, watching chocolate as is made and, of course, enjoying free samples.
The women who make the chocolate can be seen working with sterile gloves and masks while toiling in the production room as tourists snap their photos.
'Cokelat Monggo is a frequent destination of study tours by school and college students as well as communities,' said Tanjung Ardiani, who is in charge of the factory's marketing and communications. Chocolate is everywhere in the room as he speaks.
As a large pan of praline paste is stirred, some mix cocoa while others cut and chop macadamia nuts to prepare chocolate fillings. 'These nuts are hard to find in Indonesia. They're available in limited quantities,' Asih explained
In the next room over a dozen workers arrange and clean candy molds for those shaping cocoa paste into various chocolate pieces.
When the snacks were called Kulit Cokelat (chocolate skin) and produced by Detournay and Asih, they came in 12 favors. Now, Cokelat Monggo has more than 20 flavors. The fillings, according to Asih, were the reason behind the original name. 'The chocolate is like the skin covering the variously flavored fillings,' she said.
After moulding, chocolate is wrapped in aluminum foil. Some bars are given special packaging instead of aluminum foil, usually for special occassions, such as Valentine's Day.
A secondary wrapper is then applied. Cokelat Monggo uses recycled paper to pack its chocolate. 'Using this kind of paper has been one of our commitments to environment conservation,' Tanjung says.
Some wrappers emphasize the city's cultural heritage, featuring wayang kulit shadow puppets, Javanese dancers and city landmarks ' all popular as special orders.
Cokelat Monggo has three showrooms: Kota Gede and Tirtodipuran, in Yogyakarta and Bandung, West Java, and has 400 sales points in Java, Bali and Lampung.
For those looking for their own Oompa Loompa experience, however, the day-long survey of chocolate making, can only be done at the Cokelat Monggo factory and showroom in Kota Gede.
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