The single-origin chocolates from Lemuel Chocolate are worlds are apart from the typical chocolate bars we typically see at supermarkets.
For one, they consist of only two ingredients — roasted cocoa beans and raw organic cane sugar.
They are also sustainably sourced, and handcrafted in an in-house production facility.
Chocolatier and founder of Lemuel Chocolate, Ronald Ng, has been in the chocolate industry for close to 30 years.
He can even be likened to Willy Wonka, the owner of the chocolate factory in the famous movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
A Three-Decade Journey With Chocolate
In an interview with Vulcan Post, the expert chocolatier shared that he had loved chocolate ever since he was a child. This fuelled him to work part-time at a chocolate factory during his secondary school days.
After college, Ronald found a job in a Malaysian chocolate factory across the causeway, where he spent 15 years working his way up the ranks to be a research and development (R&D) manager from a production scheduling assistant.
He even studied chocolate, and spent some time in Germany specialising in a ‘Chocolate & Sugar Confectionery Technology’ course.
Ronald later returned to Singapore armed with new knowledge on how to develop innovative chocolate products.
His other chocolate-related stints included a freelance chocolate consultant that helped chocolate-related companies in process-planning and product development.
Before founding Lemuel Chocolate, he had also started a chocolate trading business specialising in chocolate-related souvenirs.
A family tour to Japan in 2015 and meeting his old classmate, Hideki Sakanishi, changed his craft of chocolate and motivated the duo to start Lemuel Chocolate in 2016.
A Mini Bean-To-Bar Chocolate Factory
Ronald and Hideki took inspiration from the Dandelion Chocolate factory-cafe in Tokyo, which had a mini factory located within its storefront.
The chocolate lover then went into research mode, going to cacao plantations in India, and experimenting with chocolate-making at home.
Amid positive feedback from friends and family, he set out to make Lemuel Chocolate a reality.
Hideki and myself were inspired by how craft chocolate makers whom we visited in Japan made different origins of cocoa beans into chocolate, all from scratch. One such company is the US-originating Dandelion Chocolate. We loved their concept, the cocoa aroma that filled the shop and the complexity of flavours stemming from their chocolates.
We decided quite quickly to start something similar or if not the same in Singapore, seeing as it was something niche and unique still.Ronald Ng, Co-founder of Lemuel Chocolate
Like Dandelion Chocolate, Lemuel has a mini production facility within its retail store at Star Vista — the first of its kind in Singapore.
Together with his daughters Natasha and Nathalie, Ronald makes Lemuel’s chocolates from scratch in their production kitchen.
They begin with roasting various types of single origin cocoa beans spanning from Africa, and India to Latin America and Southeast Asia. The roasted beans are then cracked and winnowed, which is the process of separating the cocoa nibs from their shells.
The cocoa nibs, which are 100 per cent cocoa, will then be made into chocolate, with the only other ingredients being organic raw cane sugar.
The whole process takes over a month. Ronald shared that every chocolate bar is hand-wrapped with eco-friendly paper made from the leaves and pulp of the mango and banana trees.
The quality and effort that goes into making the chocolates shines through, as Lemuel has managed to attain eight international chocolate awards for their single-origin bars.
Furthermore, they have also received recognition from international businesses like Shake Shack, with their chocolate being used in the burger chain’s ice cream.
Ronald and his daughters are also constantly innovating.
He shared that during the Covid-19 lockdown period, Lemuel continued to find ways of reaching out to customers by using e-commerce and social media platforms to market their products.
It led to the creation of various delivery kits, that were well-received by customers, with the store generating almost S$40,000 of revenue from online sales.
Spreading The Appreciation For Craft Chocolate
The team has recently opened their second outlet at 27 West Coast Highway, which features a cafe concept.
The new store will also serve as a venue to carry out product research and development, and conduct workshops and classes.
Educating and sharing experiences with customers is a big part of Lemuel’s business mission, as Ronald believes that this will help create a greater awareness and appreciation for craft chocolates.
This is why Ronald frequently conducts workshops, classes and factory tours.
In an interview with LoveWholesome, Ronald shared that customers are usually more willing to dish out between S$12 and S$15 for a single-origin chocolate bar after witnessing the painstaking process behind its creation.
Furthermore, sustainability also plays a big role in the business. All the cocoa beans are sustainably sourced, which resonates with the ethos of fair trade and uplifting the income of farmers.
The Second Generation Of Chocolatiers
Lemuel wants to expand its reach to more Singaporeans, so the team is looking to open another retail store in the near future.
However, bringing the business abroad is Ronald’s ultimate dream, and he hopes to be able to open outlets in countries in Asia Pacific in the years to come.
Succession to the business is also on the table. Ronald’s daughters have the same passion and love for craft chocolate, and have worked closely with him to develop the business.
Nathalie, a Food Science graduate will head Research and Development while Natasha who is a Business graduate will head Marketing and Communications,
“With their similar ambitions and passion for the business, I foresee a great team that will surely realise our expansion dreams,” said Ronald.
“Building a franchise that upkeeps quality and passion is our ultimate goal.”
Featured Image Credit: Lemuel Chocolate