Origin: Belize - Moho Valley - Maya Mountain
Certs: Organic and Direct Trade and Sustainably sourced
Subdued bright fruits are in place for this crop. The aroma is mild cocoa and tangy apricot plus a little dusty mulberry. The flavor is tangy, showing off apricot, black tea. A tart tamarind and a slightly more restrained chocolate backbone remain.
While roasting there is toasted cashew and toasted graham cracker plus some of that tart acidity. Once in chocolate form (80% for my tests) there is a light dried apricot and a slight pithy astringency. It isn't too much but it is there. always with an underlying tart tamarind and a slight toasted sugar bitterness. There continues to be a gentle tobacco and full grain leather. The chocolate level is a little reduced this year but not gone by any means.
I'm really glad to have this bean back. I've frankly coveted the cocoa from this region for many years. It used to be solely the bailiwick of Green and Black, but actually getting more than just lovely samples from them proved impossible. This is a great collaboration between Cotton Tree Lodge and Maya Mountain Cacao (MMC), the former housing the fermenting and drying beds (which I've watched grow, changed and mature over the years) for the later. This is direct from MMC, and sums it up great.
"Maya Mountain Cacao (MMC) sources premium cacao (cocoa beans) from smallholder Belizean farmers for makers of fine chocolate products. Our model creates an exceptionally high-quality cocoa bean and a growing source of income for farmers, while contributing to reforestation efforts and promoting sustainable organic agricultural practices in southern Belize."
Profile Drum Roasting: In this particular case I kept the EOR lower to bring out some balancing brightness but kept the Finishing phase long (5 minutes) so that there was full heat penetration to the core of the bean so astringency is kept in check. The profile curve associated with the spider chart is 12.5/2.5/5 @ 254 F. The take away is that you should not come in hot and heavy but steady. 2.5 minutes in the development phase to bring out the chocolate without turn the nut notes bitter. After that, you want to turn the roast down quite a bit. A classic default profile is often 10/8/6. Make sure to slow the roast too keep the EOR temperature from getting too high. Much beyond that mid 250s and you court bitter nut notes Slow and steady wins the race. But I want to caution about just doing 'long and low' as seems to be a thing. If you do that you run the pretty high risk of not developing the flavors that are there and in that case you could well be left with the dreaded boring chocolate.
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 255 + ~15 = 270 and continue to roast, stirring every 5 minutes until approximately 255 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.