A sweet story by Ondy Sweeting. Image: Lucky 8.
Balinese love and devotion plus centuries of organic cross-pollination has created heavenly chocolate that can be created nowhere else on earth.
Sorga Chocolate grows Bali’s unique type of cacao bean that is the result of nature’s propagation of cacao varieties that were brought to Bali from South America by the Dutch in the 1700s.
“We think of our cacao as a menage à trois rather than a clone and it’s the basis of the extraordinary flavours we achieve at Sorga – but there are several secrets to the art of making exquisite chocolate,” says Sorga Commissioner and visionary Emerald Starr.
Apart from Bali’s excellent cacao growing conditions of constant warmth and volcanic soil and the expertise from three of the world’s premier chocolate making authorities including a doctor of molecular biology – Sorga’s raw products receives deep love and devotion as a religion.
“The Balinese perform a ceremony every 210 days to agriculture and there is a specific day for orchards and plantations. Having the cacao trees honoured by priests and the Balinese people – whether you believe it or not – the reality is created by the cultures that create them. I believe that’s why the Bali cacao is so different here because it has devotion and love that is absolutely real,” he says.
The regular rituals of Balinese rings true with the famous school bullying experiment where three plants are grown in the same conditions but one is adored and praised, another is taunted and verbally abused and the third plant is subjected to utter indifference. We all know which plant flourished.
And flourish, Sorga does. The company has a range of truffles and ice cream and multiple chocolate bars – which are vegan – that includes salty cashew, ginger crunch and orange spark, a product that utilised the skills of the molecular scientist. There is a retail shop in Ubud and the product is appearing on the shelves of deli’s and grocers across the island.
“The orange spark chocolate bar is our real designer bar and it’s a result of a molecular biologist who understands how and when flavours open in the mouth and at what temperatures. Orange spark is made from orange oil with a little chilli and both become volatile at different levels of heat. The orange oil opens first in the mouth, followed by the chocolate and then the chilli turns up a little later and this can be in the mouth or throat or on the tongue,” Emerald says.
Sorga has three mocha flavours crafted from Bali coffee.
The 72 percent cacao is a blend of Arabica and Robusta from Kintamani; an espresso bar is 85 percent cacao along with the wild luwak bar, which is made from beans collected from a coffee plantation where the cats are wild and forage for dropped ripe beans.
“The cats are amazing and know the best of the beans to eat. They are like truffle hunter pigs but they get to eat and enjoy the beans,” he says.
Sorga uses clean, certified and organic raw materials and has discovered abandoned cashew forests in the north of the island where a Swiss man raised money to buy processing equipment – the original of which left with the Dutch – and recruited beggars to work there for a living wage.
Another unique method in making this exclusive Balinese chocolate is the ‘stacking’ – or fermenting the fruit. Sorga repeats this fermentation process three times rather than the usual single fermentation of commercial chocolatiers. It also includes banana leaves, which are rich in natural yeast that enhances the process and removes the bitterness from the fruit.
“The sweet pulp fruit has an acidic note and that tart note goes into the chocolate, which is not bitter or sweet but has a tangy flavour and when the sugar is added the fruit flavour comes back. That sets Sorga apart from all other 98 percent of chocolate in the world,” says Emerald.
Sorga aims to keep a low carbon footprint and maintain quality by not jetting vast amounts of products around the world while still creating an international profile.
“The mystic of Sorga is that it’s one of the finest chocolates in the world and you have to come to Bali to get it. We want to get it known to the five million tourists that come to Bali every year.”
The company has also tapped into superfoods by producing a 100 percent cacao bar that is packed with good oils and antioxidants. All of their chocolate bars are vegan but this is no whole food hippy product rather more a luxury treat.
The company is dynamic and developing new talent with 21-year-old Regal Starr relocating from Nepal to become Sorga’s new CEO.
By the time Regal was in year 12 he had finished business courses until his Masters degree. “He was born into a business family and was involved with management and saw success and failure since he was 17 years old. Due to his excellent accomplishments we believe he will guide Sorga into a super successful future,” says Emerald.
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