Bali Chocolate Factory Robert Formsten

Published 01 December 2016   

robert-formsten Robert Formsten.
A man with a sweet tooth and a taste for chocolate.

For quite a while you have been eating scrumptious chocolates from different precious outlets, but there is a humble man behind this party for the palate, making a showing without anyone knowing.

S.B. Begin at the beginning.
R.F. Robert Formsten, age, sixty five, from Australia, married and came to Bali in nineteen eighty one.
S.B What were you doing in Australia before Bali?
R.F. Studying marine biology, so when I left university I needed to support myself until I found a job in my field. It can take a year or so to find a good job. In the meantime while I was in Bali I decided to buy clothes here and sell them in the market in Australia. The clothes I bought sold exceedingly well, beyond expectation, and within no time I started a company with a friend and we were pumping for quite a few years. We closed down the clothing and I then went into the antique furniture business, doing business in Holland, and so, back and forth from here to there for a number of years.

S.B. At what point did the chocolate factor come about? Did you have a fetish for it, or some kind of background?
R.F. None what so ever. I have a science degree. What happened was we bought an old coffee plantation which had never been used. We were going to build a holiday house, but it was all overgrown, so I got together with some guys with a chainsaw and started cutting our way through the overgrown coffee. I saw some trees with big pods on them, I didn’t even know they were pods. I asked one of the guys, what is that? He said chocolate, so I thought to myself, O.K. I’ll make some chocolate, that’s how it started.

S.B. How do you make chocolate?
R.F. You take the bean, grind it, dry it, and add some sugar, vanilla, cacao butter, and you’ve got chocolate. Of course, the first thing I had to know was how to make it. I got on the internet, got a few tips and I experimented with it. After a while I could make a reasonable chocolate, but then what was I supposed to do with it? So I went to Australia and studied intensively for a month or so in a chocolate factory, what to do and so forth with some well known, respected people in the industry. It was an education what to do with it once I made it. Mind you – there’s really no one out there who really wants to teach you – because they all want to keep it a secret and nobody wants to give you their recipe. My chocolate is different to others and I have my secret now of course.

S.B. How long did it take you to achieve satisfaction?
R.F. I’m still working on it today, constantly trying to improve my product.
S.B. Where do you make your chocolate?
R.F. In my house. It’s a three day process. The first thing I did with it was to make Belgium Prelims, Bon Bon’s, and I started selling them in Made’s Warung. I worked on it through time and kept on getting it better and better.

S.B. Do you have limitations?
R.F. I try to increase my production all the time, and actually I’m on the verge of going into a factory because I’m overwhelmed with production at home.

S.B. And no website?
R.F. I don’t have a website yet as I am still struggling to meet demand at the moment.When I have enough production that I need to attract new business I will do it. I don’t like it when people ask me to supply them chocolate and I have to refuse.Thus, no website.

S.B. Where do you sell your product?
R.F. Well to name a few, Bintang supermarkets, Down to Earth stores, Sereh supermarket, Canggu Deli, Papaya, Made’s and various other restaurants. Right now I can’t produce any more. I am starting a chocolate shop in Bedugul with partners though. We’re working on that together and it will be called The Chocolate House. The first location will be at Bedugul, and we will see how that works out. It will be something similar to a Starbucks but with chocolate. The sky’s the limit, if we can produce it.

S.B. When is that ready to go?
R.F. In March or April, it’s already under construction and happening right now.

S.B. How do you view yourself out there in the chocolate world, what do you see as your edge?
R.F. People like what they like. There’s so much chocolate out there and I would describe it as an art form. They all have their own special techniques and it tastes different from one to the other but they all have, basically the same ingredients.

S.B. So it depends on how you put it together?
R.F. Yes, exactly. I suppose my edge comes from my science background. I know how to experiment – working in science, you hypothesise, you experiment and you conclude, so experimentation is the key. I’m constantly doing it, otherwise it would be boring.

S.B. Do you have ideas for the future?
R.F. Many, many idea’s for my wife, but we do want to keep it small, we don’t want it to get big. I’m sixty five and past my prime, and happy with a quiet life too.

S.B. So over the years, let’s say incognito, you’ve been making a showing without anyone knowing?
R.F. If you want to put it that way, but sure there are people out there who know I developed the chocolate when I was allowed to work in my wife’s company but now that is not possible these days, so I just help my wife with ideas.

S.B. Regardless, you won’t be leaving anybody with a bad taste in their mouth.

Chow mein, Salvador Bali.

2 Comments

  1. Dear FRV Bali Team,
    Great & Interesting article…..
    May I have direct contact to Robert Formsten or his wife (email or etc)
    I am really interest on his dedicated activity in regard the chocolate experiment.

    Thank you for your kind attention and assistance.

    Regards,

    Roesmijanto

    Posted by roesmijanto on 07 December 16 at 6:05pm [Comment]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *