Republic of Congo Organic 2018/19

Origin: Republic of Congo
Region: North Kivu province
Type: Mostly Forastero
Certifications: Direct Trade, Certified Organic, UTZ
Year: 2018/19

It is a rare day when I get to bring in a brand new Origin, and this is one of those times.  To date I've tasted and evaluated beans from the Congo a few times but this is the first time I both liked them enough and they were viable to offer.

This may sound odd but the first word that comes to mind about the aroma of this bean is tannins.  Maybe it is that it is wine like but that is what I get.  Also very prominent is warm summer raisins – that fruity, slightly sharp sweet smell.

I need to say up front that I really like this bean and it may come across that I’m kind of damning it with faint praise.  The issue, if you can call it an issue, is that it is mostly Forastero and although that can make quite a flavorful chocolate it is pretty common to be not incredibly complex.  With that in mind, let’s forge on.

The flavor is low toned with a nice almond nuttiness.  The acidity is remarkably low but the mellow nuts make it very approachable.  It is savory, with notes of tamarind and molasses.  Overall this is a solid and well structured bean that won’t disappoint as long as you don’t go putting the bar higher than it should be.

Esco Kivu pioneered cacao production in the Democratic Republic of Congo decades ago in the North Kivu province.

The region has seen tremendous growth over the years as both weather and soil have led to production of superior quality, flavorful cacao. A remarkable success story for the Eastern Congo community, the emergence of cacao production provides hope for bright future of sustainable income generation and continued growth potential. 

The Esco Kivu team continues to demonstrate a commitment to the well being of farmers in DRC by providing them with materials and education necessary to cultivate cacao and manage income. Farmers have been provided fermentation boxes and ongoing training on topics such as farm maintenance and post-harvest techniques, social responsibility, youth education, and managerial development. This organically and sustainably grown cacao shines as leader for west African production.

Goldilocks.  You don't have to fear over roasting this accidentally but you really will do best keeping this in the center zone.  Too light and the astringency goes up.  Too heavy and the nuts are going to turn bitter.  That means both not pushing the ramps too hard and also not going too high.  250-258 F is a good zone with a solid 4-5 minutes in the finishing phase.

The roast profile for my evaluation was 12.00/2.45/5.15 @ 258 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 18-20 minutes with 2 lb 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.