Type: Mostly Trinitario and Amelonado
Certifications: Direct Trade, Organic
There are two items of note for this bean.
The preparation is perfect on this lot. Very even and no debris to speak of with a beautiful red/auburn color.
The aroma starts of with chocolate and dried stone fruit. It is immediately apparent there is a density of flavor here that is thick, and rich and almost cloying but in an incredibly satisfying way. The full chocolate backbone (thanks to the significant Amelonado in the mix) quickly gives way to super sweet fudge and molasses like sugar note.
The bitterness I'm noting is from cinnamon and allspice like flavors. Astringency is near quite low but the whole profile is balanced with just enough mineral acidity to keep it lively and incredibly satisfying. Depending upon your roast level, there can be hints of burnt hazelnut.
The impression I'm left with is tangy date jam laced nut brittle. I also want to point out that the more of this chocolate I eat the less dense this becomes. I think it would show well as high sugar chocolate to moderate some of that density.
The Kisinga microlot is from a community on the opposite corner of the Rwenzori mountains from Bundibugyo where the Semuliki communities are located. Although the cacao trees are the same genetic mix, the much drier environment and different soil type results in a slightly smaller bean with more concentrated flavor and an unmistakable cinnamon note with certain roasts. The beans are just as clean and consistent as what we have come to expect from Semuliki.
Wet cocoa is purchased from multiple contracted smallholder farmers, each with 1-2 hectares of cocoa trees, often divided between several plots. Staff collect cocoa in the afternoon of harvest day from contracted farmers from established collection points near the farms. Farmers are paid cash on the spot for fresh cocoa at 40% of the dry cocoa market price. 10-20% bonuses are then paid to farmers at the end of the season based on delivered volumes and consistency of deliveries (required 1x per month to ensure consistency of source material).
The fermentation facility and store is located very close to the farms and cocoa is quickly prepared and put into paired fermentation boxes built with eucalyptus timber sourced from local timber plantations. Boxes are 500kg capacity with removable shutters to allow turning cacao for uniform fermentation. Fermentation temperatures are recorded at regular intervals 3x daily. Total duration of fermentation varies from 5.5-6.5 days.
This mixture of varieties combined with frequent collaboration with Daniel O’Doherty of Cacao Services, produces a unique profile
Dan's influence in the fermentation is quite clear with a very even, beautiful and full fermentation. You can taste another bean collaboration with Peru Ucayali
Profile Drum Roasting: I'll be honest, this chocolate has me a touch puzzled. I had the opportunity to taste this as a chocolate roasted by someone else, without much record keeping of the profile. The chocolate had a very distinctive cinnamon note that to date I've yet been able to replicate. That said, it didn't have the deep notes I mention in my review so I suspect it is going to be a tradeoff of one note vs many. Moving on, the profile I used was 14:00/16:40/21:10 @ 257. It is really pretty moderate and pretty long. Over 2.6 minutes in the development phase to bring out the chocolate and a full 5 minutes in the Finishing phase.
Behmor: Due to the cold start of the the Behmor, you can just set it on the 1 lb setting with 2.5 lb of cocoa and go. When you begin getting aromatic notes, somewhere around 4 minutes left (14 minutes elapsed of the 18 minute start) drop the power to P3 (50% power) and continue roasting for about another 6-8 minutes, waiting for the aroma to either decrease or get sharp. This is all of course if you don't have a thermocouple in the beans (Modifying your Behmor) If you have that you can follow the profiles above.
Oven Roasting: I've been experimenting a lot recently with a less fussy way to oven roast and I find this procedure works pretty well. It is moderately predictable, repeatable and although not as dynamic and controllable as a drum roaster, does a good job. You will need an IR thermometer. Roast 2 lb of beans. Preheat your over to 350 F. Place your cocoa beans in a single layer on a baking sheet and into the oven. Stir the beans at 5 minutes and check the temperature. Continue roasting until the surface temperature reads 205-215 F (it may well vary across the beans). At that point, turn your oven down 10-15 F above your target EOR, in this case 257 + ~15 = 272 and continue to roast, stirring every 5 minutes until approximately 255-260 F. Again, there will be variation but the beauty of this method is having turned the oven down it is difficult to over roast. If you do find your roast is progressing too fast, adjust accordingly, starting at 325 F and/or changing your target to 265 F. Overall you may well roast 30-40 minutes. The important part here is to get good momentum going in a hot oven and then basically coasting to finish.