Uganda Semuliki Forest Direct Trade Organic 2023

Origin: Uganda
Region: Rwenzururu  - Semuliki Forest
Type: Mostly Trinitario and Amelonado
Certifications: Direct Trade,  Organic
Year: 2023

The preparation is perfect on this lot. Very even and no debris to speak of with a beautiful red/auburn color. 

I was absolutely blown away by the intense holiday spice laced figgy/date pudding aroma coming off the finished chocolate.  It is just begging to let you down by not being present in the chocolate, but in this case it delivers in spades.

The deep chocolate backbone (thanks to the significant Amelonado in the mix) quickly gives way to super sweet caramel and dark brown sugar.  And as promised, it is laced throughout with spiced pudding flavors.  The bitterness I'm noting is from cinnamon and clove like flavors.  Astringency is near non-existent but the whole profile is balanced with just enough acidity to keep it lively and incredibly satisfying.  There is a little bit of nut that I can't quite identify that also bittered up with the high EOR (262 F) I gave it but it balanced and integrated just fine with the rest of the flavor profile and probably enhanced it even.  Finally there is a clean earthiness that brings a glorious deep mouth feel to the whole chocolate.

The impression I'm left with is fig jam laced cinnamon toast.

Individual smallholder farmers surveyed and contracted by company staff supply our fermentation facility. Collection locations are located along one stretch of road running through the Galiraya, Kisonko and Buganikere communities. Cacao from these locations is blended throughout the process.

The Rwenzururu sub-region of Uganda sits at 3,000 feet above sea level and borders the DR Congo, the Rwenzori Mountain range and Semuliki National Park. The climate is tropical with over 1,000mm of rainfall which typically occurs in 2 seasons, March to April and September to January. The region suffers from recurring conflict between cultural and rebel groups straddling the DR Congo border. Bundibugyo district likely accounts for more than 70% of cocoa production in Uganda.

Wet cocoa is purchased from over 500 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 in a converted B&B in the village of Bumate at the base of the hills leading into the mountains. With a shortage of available land in the district, the site is designed to take advantage of all possible available sunshine while limiting runoff from heavy rainfall.

Paired box fermentation 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.

The quality of fresh cacao is evaluated by bag and hand sorted prior to filling of fermentation boxes. Any lower grade or cacao harvested on the previous day is separated. Beans are sampled and cut from the start of the 5th fermentation day onward. Prior to drying, beans are again separated based on quality of fermentation and consistency within the box. After drying and sorting, beans are sampled and cut to sort fermentation levels prior to blending.

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

Feel completely free to take a strong and bold approach here.  It has loads of chocolate and fruit that not only can take a firm roasting hand, but will benefit from it.

The roast profile for my evaluation was 11.50/2.30/5.15 @ 262 F.  The EOR was just a higher than some taking into account the bold Amelonado chocolate character . 

If you are using a Behmor, P1 for 18-19 minutes with 2 lbs will be just fine.  Go by the aroma.  When it turns sharper near the end of the count down, you are done.  If it isn't there yet, add a bit more time waiting for the turn of aroma.