Sweet Treat for NUS Donors: Chocolate Appreciation Workshop

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.” This quote from the film, Forrest Gump, describes National University of Singapore (NUS) alumna, Ms Yilina Leong’s entrepreneurship journey. She had to stomach the bitterness of failure before tasting the sweetness of success.

yilina gradDuring her time at NUS Business School and NUS Overseas College, Ms Leong started and ended two F&B start-ups. Today, the serial entrepreneur is behind Fossa Chocolate, an award-winning craft chocolate producer based in Singapore. Launched in 2017, Fossa is known for its single origin chocolate series, as well as unusual flavours, such as Salted Egg Cereal and Honey Orchid Dancong Hongcha.  

Ms Leong shared her inspiring story at a virtual chocolate appreciation session organised by the NUS Development Office. Recalling how the NUS experience empowered her, Ms Leong shared: “I used to be a very shy person. The education – be it the holistic curriculum or the network of friends and mentors – really pushed me to step out of my comfort zone.”

Team photoThe career office at NUS had also helped Ms Leong land a marketing internship in 2013 at software firm, Symantec, where she met co-founder Mr Jay Chua, Fossa Chocolate’s resident chocolate maker.

“Without all these experiences that NUS offered me, I really wouldn't have met the people I've met, and I wouldn't have started Fossa Chocolate together with my co-founders. NUS has really helped to shape my journey,” Ms Leong elaborated. 

Together with one of her co-founders, Mr Chua, Ms Leong was invited to host online chocolate appreciation workshops for our Annual Giving donors in December. Participants were also treated to a virtual tour of Fossa Chocolate’s factory.

Conducting the virtual sessions from the Fossa factory, Mr Chua delved into the bean-to-bar process. He said: “Before we go into the proper tasting, I want to bring attention to how we source the cacao beans because this will help you to enjoy chocolates more.”


Chocolate is made from the fruit of the cacao tree, he explained. For up to a week, the cacao pods’ seeds and their fleshy pulp are fermented to bring out the aromatic flavours. The fermented beans are then laid to dry in the sun. 

Holding up the cacao beans to the camera, Mr Chua demonstrated how to remove the cacao bean husk to reveal the cacao nibs. The cacao nibs are then grounded with only cane sugar to make Fossa’s range of two-ingredient single origin dark chocolates

Participants with adventurous taste buds were encouraged to hand-crack the cacao beans found in the kits delivered to their homes and taste the freshly roasted cacao nibs. Each kit also came with a variety of Fossa Chocolate bars and a tasting sheet.

As our donors savoured a variety of chocolates, Mr Chua regaled them with fun facts behind each bar. Appreciating chocolate is more than exploring the unique textures and flavours. There is a story behind each bar, from the production process to its place of origin.

Just as how growing a cacao tree takes patience to become a fruiting tree, it takes time for NUS students to achieve their fullest potential. Every contribution from generous donors continues to enable NUS students to learn and grow.