After careers in management consultancy, Sabrina Mustopo and Simon Wright founded Krakakoa, the first bean to bar company in Indonesia in 2013. Their objective was to show firstly that Indonesia could craft great chocolate from its beans whilst also demonstrating the economic advantages of growing and crafting high quality chocolate. Indonesia has been a major exporter of “bulk” cacao for many years, but the prices paid and developmental benefits for most Indonesian cocoa farmers have been limited. Sabrina and Simon are driven by a vision of farmers making a sustainable, good living from their hard work, protecting the local environment and also showing that producing chocolate at origin could bring significant development opportunities for Indonesia.
Sabrina and Simon, have both lived, studied and worked in Indonesia, meeting whilst working for consultancy firm McKinsey & Company. Originally, Krakakoa was named “Kakao”, and started as an experiment, to test firstly whether it was possible to make high quality chocolate at a small scale in Indonesia, secondly whether the pair could actually cooperate with local cocoa farmers, and thirdly whether these local farmers would benefit from moving to “fine cacao”. Since October 2016, the brand promise developed even further and became more expressive; they’ve sharpened their brand promise to a commitment to showcase the best cacao from the Indonesian archipelago. The new name, Krakakoa, took inspiration from the volcano “Krakatoa”, which sought to reflect the chocolate as being proudly Indonesian.
Krakakoa sources its cacao from four islands in Indonesia: Sumatra, Sulawesi, Kalimantan, and Bali. The cacao beans are harvested on a single estate on each island, where the partner farmers have each undergone an 8-16 week workshop, on behalf of Krakakoa in partnership with SwissContact, where the farmers learn good agricultural practices and sustainable farming methods, including: organic farming techniques, disease management, fermentation, and conservation. Once graduated, the farmers are provided with the proper farming tools and continual support from this programme.
Krakakoa truly is chocolate made with passion and purpose. We wanted to hear more from the social entrepreneurs of the business, Sabrina and Simon:
What mission have you set yourselves for making chocolate?
We are driven to improve the lives of people living at the bottom of the pyramid and to preserve the world’s biodiversity and natural heritage. As such, Krakakoa was founded with a mission to improve the lives of Indonesian cocoa farmers and the sustainability of cocoa farming sector. Supporting that ultimate goal are also raising the poor international perception of Indonesian cacao and chocolate and contributing to the development of Indonesia by maximizing economic value creation in the country.
Where do you want to go next? New bars? New beans? New markets?
There’s a lot that we still want to do across all aspects of the business. But at a high level we’ll be entering new markets, launching new products for new customer segments and trying to see how we can further improve our social impact and environmental sustainability.
What is the story behind your company name?
Our brand name until October 2016 was actually “Kakoa” we rebranded as Krakakoa, because we wanted needed a name that matched our aspiration to become an iconic, global Indonesian brand, and also one that linked to the company’s roots in Lampung, Sumatra. So we settled on our current name which is a play on the historic volcano, Krakatoa, which is situated in Lampung province is famous around the world.
Who designed your packaging – and what are you most proud of about your packaging?
Our own in-house designer, who happens to also be our first and longest serving team member. We’re probably most proud that our first team member is still with us! And, that we won an AoC design and Red Dot award last year for our Single Origin gift set.
How did you source your beans?
Our initial two farmer groups were found through a contact we made at WWF, who were training farmers on Good Agricultural Practices and sustainability to avoid encroachment on the Bukit Barisan Selatan national park that the farmers boarder, and has some of the last remaining Sumatran tigers, elephants and rhinos. We found further communities ourselves, but we have also been approached by many farmer groups after they heard about the success of our training and sourcing programs.
What inspired your choice of wrapper/mould design?
Our mould is a modification of a popular off-the-shelf mould that we used during our first two years. We added some traditional batik patterning in addition to slight dimension adjustments to add some Indonesian feel to it.
What innovations in tech, crafting, marketing etc. are you pursuing?
By global standards, none currently, but by Indonesian standards we are one of the few if only chocolate makers to actively train and incentivise farmers for fine cocoa production. Less than 5% of Indonesian cocoa is fermented, and the farmers we trained into Academy of Chocolate award winners had no idea how to ferment cocoa beans when we first partnered with them.
What is your favourite food? Wine? Other chocolate makers?
This is a tough one.
Simon: As a South African, I’m going to go with a traditional braai of boerwors, maize meal and chakalaka, paired with a local Pinotage. That said, I’m more of a craft beer person than a wine person, and there I prefer my sours. In terms of chocolate makers, that is really tough but I’d say Pump Street Bakery cause I’ve never had a bar of theirs I’ve felt comfortable sharing and Meiji THE Chocolate because the packaging and value for money is so great.
Sabrina: I love Japanese food. My wine is my happy place, and my go-to would be Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand or a Riesling from Germany. For chocolate, the Smooth Chocolator, Pump Street and Bonnat.
What chocolate achievement are you most proud of to date?
We are the first and only Indonesian chocolate maker to win an AoC or ICA award when we won six AoC 2017 awards. And that year we were also the only winner to use Indonesian beans. Krakakoa was started to show that Indonesian cocoa can be on par with the best out there. Despite this country having a history of producing bad quality beans, we believed that if we worked with closely with farmers, treated them as partners and made sure that they get a fair deal for their hard work, that we could produce something exceptional. We wanted to show that chocolate made in Indonesia, by Indonesians, using only cocoa grown here, can compete on the global stage. And winning the awards showed that all this is true and possible.