Fiji Rakiraki- Direct Trade - 2023

Origin: Nunokoloa, Rakiraki Provence

Type:  Forestero Amelonado, Trinatario

Certifications: Direct Trade

Harvest Year: 2023

Flavor notes:

Just like last year the amount we were able to secure is VERY limited and the price is is the same higher price due to weather and COVID issues last year.....again.

That said, it might be better than ever. 

The first aroma is intense chocolate, warm cinnamon dates and toffee. The flavor is bold and thick with layers of the same dried dates and bittering spices.  The acidity is higher that some years yet totally offset and balanced with inherent sweetness and chocolate. The entire profile is of deep, low toned fruits, not the bright acidic ones. There is also a crème brule caramelization, just on the edge of too far, that is a sharp tangy shot to the senses and lends a glorious bitter (not too much) counterbalance to the sweetness. 

The flavor has that same crème brule depth of flavor. The acidity is that of fresh dried plum and counterpointed by a clean but controlled burnt sugar bitterness.  Medjool dates are in the taste along with the huge lingering mouth feel of leather and intense chocolate overlaid with a subtle cinnamon.

There is a great bitterness that perfectly offsets the inherent sweetness of the bean. And also a gentle tang of malic acidity to keep the balance fun and lively - that blackberry flavor.  There is further a balancing earthy leather in the finish.

There is a natural sweetness coming from multiple directions. It is pretty common in coffee descriptions. This or that cup has this or that kind of sweetness. But those are all in black coffee. But I evaluate with sugar. In this case, the description comes from the fact that at 80%, the impression is of a chocolate that is much sweeter. And probably due to the real dynamic abundance of pleasant intense flavors that are present. It pushes all of the right buttons of what a great solid chocolate should taste like without any of the negative ones. What would be negative? Harsh bitterness without supporting sweetness. Balance to the point of boring. Lack of acidity or astringency that makes it flabby.

Centralized fermentary and drying facility. Fresh cacao is loaded into 4-tier hardwood fermentation boxes and closely monitored for 5-6 days with daily bean rotation. Fully fermented cacao is dried on decks for approximately 1 week. Each batch is raked regularly each day and hand sorted into GrainPro sealed bags for export.

Rakiraki is a district in Fiji Ra Province. It is located about halfway between Suva and Nadi when traveling along the Kings Road, on the northern coast of Viti Levu, Fiji's largest island. Prominent landmarks include Navatu Rock in Vitawa village, believed to be one of Fiji's oldest human settlements.

Pottery excavated at the base of the rock has been dated to around 1000BC. The tomb of Ratu Udre Udre,a famous 19th century cannibal chiefwho reportedly consumed more than 800 of his victims, is close to the township of Vaileka. Ra. The Ra province has several hundred small holder cocoa farmers interplanting with coconut.

I'm a fan of roasting this on the longer and heavier side. You will get those caramel flavors and dried fruits. Light will just moderate those flavors. Given how well this bean is fermented I think you could easily take it pretty light and still have a wonderful chocolate. T

Drum Roasting

The specific profile I used on to evaluate this is 13:30 / 15:40 / 19:40 @ 261 F.  You can likewise take this bean a little farther EOR since the bean is bolder in flavor than many.  I found virtually no need to be careful with this roast.  I finally stopped it when I did in the mid 260s but it showed no signs of being pushed too hard or far.  Feel free to take off the kid gloves with this roast.  It can take it.

Behmor Roaster

Roast 2 lb and use P1 on the one pound setting, for 20 minutes or until you hear a pop or two.  Then take it longer.  3-4 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.

Oven Roasting

Pre-heat your oven to 350 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 260 F, set it to 275 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.