Venezuelan Canoabo - 2016

    Origin: Venezuela

   Type: Criollo

    Certifications: Ethically and Sustainably Traded

    Year: 2016

    Flavor Notes:

As with most Criollo, don't expect heavy chocolate flavors here, but DO expect chocolate. This is a lovely soft flavored chocolate. It's not fruity bright, nor is it dark and brooding. What it is is a study in balance and elegance. Like a lot of the beans in this region, there is cream and soft red fruits. Red currant comes to mind. There slight tang of mineral molasses for balance. A touch of roasted brazil rounds out the flavor. There is little to no astringency nor bitterness to speak of but that lack doesn’t make it flabby.  It makes it enjoyable in this case.   This almost makes me think of a milk chocolate without the milk. This is real joy to work with.

 On a whim I tried some of this in the raw state (peeled still, but something I usually don't do). I was very pleasantly surprised to find it not bitter or astringent, basically lacking in that raw waxy feel, and with some soft green apple flavors. Not a lot of chocolate flavor (since that is developed when roasted) but pretty good.

This is a from a farm in Canoabo (for the life of me my mouth wants to say Obi wan Kanobi - don't ask me why, I know its nothing like that) which I am rather excited about. The primary farmer is Rodrigo who is kind of a maverick and anomaly in the cocoa farming circles. He did not grow up farming cocoa but instead when to university Valencia but discovered he didn't like the bustle of the city. With many modern techniques in hand, he and his father found a farm in the Canoabo valley and brought this particular strain of cocoa back from nearly being lost.

Canoabo is on the Barlovento coast and is home of some of the nicest cocoa I have run across and many of Rodrigo's techniques (which many of the local farms just shake their head at) I believe are the reason, including some of the neatest drying patios I've ever seen. He seems to really have a handle on giving his beans just the treatment they deserve.

It is ok to experiment here.  The bean is structured enough to handle a wide range, but fermented well enough to accept a light roast if that is to your liking.  Really, you are going to be hard pressed to mess these up.  I know that scares some people, but just do it.  You will be fine.

If you are fortunate enough to have a drum roaster with bean probe, I like this taken to a surface bean temperature of 260-265 F, although if you extend it a bit to 270-275 some of the floral notes will drop and the earthy qualities will be highlighted.