Region: Wild Harvest
Type: Heirloom Tranquilidad
Certs: Direct Trade
The first thing you are going to notice about these beans is that they are tiny. The average cocoa bean is 90-110 beans/100 grams. These average 150-160 beans/100 grams. What comes with that is a distinct density and concentration of flavor. The chocolate aroma is bold and undeniably chocolate and cured leaf tobacco and sweet dark vibrant fruits.
The second thing is that you'll notice the price is up again. Although I'd like to say this is supply and demand, the actual reason is huge increase in origin transportation costs and the above said organic certification. That all said, we have a limited supply. Remember, these are wild harvested, heirloom and involve a lot of work.
The flavor of the chocolate is also bold and carries that density of flavor I have come to associate with so many (all to date really) truly wild harvested beans, regardless of origin. There is light raisin with its deep sweetness and tangy acidity. Once you start to savor the chocolate and roll it around in your mouth you will note a solid backbone of bitterness and a virtually perfectly balanced astringency.
The finish is long and sweet, redolent of dark juicy fruits and a smooth, soft, lingering lighted roasted pine nut suppleness that goes on and on. Least you not get the point, the flavor is bold, lingering, deep and satisfying. It will be a chocolate I won’t keep around as I’m going to eat way too much of it.
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 14:30/17:40/22:40 @ 255 F. After that, you can treat this bean pretty aggressively as there is tons of chocolate and fruit. That means 0/8/6 F/min is just fine. You want to pay attention to the aroma and reduce your ramps if you smell it trying to be acrid. You will also stop the roast a little sooner than you might normally since the bean is smaller. EOR 252-258 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 255 F, set it to 270 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.