Region: Wild Harvest
Certs: Direct Trade
If it is possible, these might be the smallest beans I've had yet. The average cocoa bean is 90-110 beans/100 grams. These average 155-165 beans/100 grams. As I've come to learn, with that size comes with a density and concentration of flavor. The chocolate aroma is bold and undeniably chocolate and fresh leaf tobacco and green walnuts.
I think this might be the first time I've smelled green tobacco in the chocolate. For that you are going to see the floral note higher.
The flavor of the chocolate is also bold yet soft and has that density of flavor I mention above. There is so much going on here. It is so very earthy, with a funk that for me isn't off putting but instead alluring. The acidity and astringency are there but very much in the background. As you start to savor the chocolate and roll it around in your mouth you may note a lingering bitterness of green walnuts and an incredible clean sweetness that perfectly balances and integrates the entire profile.
The finish is long and sweet, redolent of dark juicy fruits and a smooth, soft, lingering lighted roasted Brazil nut suppleness that goes on and on. Least you not get the point, the flavor is a complex combination of bold, sweet and earthy that I find deeply satisfying. Basically look at the round and full spider chart. That's how it tastes.
PRODUCER / COLLECTORS: Tranquilidad Natural Forest Estate of around 600 hectares is owned by Volker Lehmann and his family, as private enterprise. In over 15 years Volker Lehmann increased the Wild Harvest activities all over the Beni department on areas of the size of Germany, involving hundreds of mainly indigenous families and dozens of organizations. Since 2014, after receiving the HCP recognition for Tranquilidad, production is concentrated in Tranquilidad and neighboring collection areas between the villages of Huacaraje and Baures. All cacao is fermented and sundried at Tranquilidad fermentation and drying facility.
HARVEST & PEOPLE:
Harvest time in Tranquilidad is once a year between mid December to mid February. It could vary regarding the appearance of the rainy season starting in October and ending around end of May. The amount to harvest per tree varies also from year to year. In general the amount per tree is small as well as the pods and the beans, which are half the size of cultivated cacaos varieties. The cacao trees grow tall in its natural habitat and can reach 8 – 10 meters. People harvest the lower trunk by hand and use long sticks with a wire sling to get to the fruits in the upper parts. Sometimes they climb into the tree when there are many fruits, or they get eaten by monkeys and birds.
The people like to come early in the morning, when mosquitoes are still less active, to collect in small groups or by family and make piles of pods. After 2-3 hours they sit at the piles and open the pods placing the fresh beans in bags. Once full the bags hang on poles to collect the dripping juice that people love to drink right there and to sell some in the villages. After that, between noon and early afternoon, they bring the bags by foot or on bikes to the harvest center, where they are weighed and payed directly by weight and quality. The price is generally agreed at the start of the harvest and varies if there are more or less to pick. People are free to sell to the best offer or take home.
The beans go then straight into special designed wooden fermentation boxes. The post harvest protocol was developed in 2003 and is mainly adapted to the size of the beans including slow sun drying.
The first thing you should do is read my Ask the Alchemist 239 where I discuss roasting smaller beans.
The drum roasting profile I used for the evaluation sample was 14:20/16:50/20:00 @ 251 F. After that, you can treat this bean pretty strongly as there is tons of chocolate and fruit. You absolutely ant to pay attention to the aroma and reduce your power/ramps if you smell it trying to be acrid. You will also stop the roast a bit sooner than you might normally since the bean is smaller and it has that walnut character. EOR 248-252 F seems to work well where a normal sized bean of this character would be 258-264 F.
Roast 2 lb and use P1 on the one pound setting, for 19-20 minutes or until you hear a pop or two. Then take it longer. 2-3 minutes. It is virtually impossible to over roast in the Behmor with 2 lb in there. If you are using the current model with Manual control, turning down the power to P4 (75% power) when it starts to become aromatic (or smells sharp) is a nice way to keep the EOR tempering in check.
Pre-heat your oven to 325 F. Put 1-2 lb of beans onto a tray single layer deep. Check the temperature every 5 minutes, stirring at that time. When the beans are in the 205-215 range, reduce the oven temperature to about 10-15 F above your target EOR, so if you are going for 250 F, set it to 265 F. When the beans reach your desired temperature and/or are smelling sharp, another 15-30 minutes, remove them and let them cool. This should give you a nice fully developed roasted bean that is in little danger of being over roasted.