Bolivia - Alto Beni Walikeewa - 2023 - Organic

Origin: Bolivia

Region: Alto Beni - Walikeewa

Type: Criollo/Trinatario

Certifications: Certified Organic

Year: 2023

Flavor Notes:

What a difference time makes.  We recently had were offering the 2018/19 crop and I was praising how delectable it was, so much so I had trouble keeping it on my desk. This one, not unlike the 18/19, is more restrained.  There is of course no telling if it is the age or just a different drop with different fermentation or some combination, but the later is my vote.

The aroma starts with bold caramelized sweetness.  After a first impression of chocolate, the whole flavor profile leans into woodiness.  Lignin really is the best term for it.  It is a very unmistakable flavor that lends the impression of bitterness and/or astringency.  And yet again, I have a description for something that is clear to me but our language doesn't excel at.  The chocolate has tons of brown flavors.  It is related to both the very soft and muted acidity and the thick and sumptuous browned fruit flavors.  The previous 18/19 crop I noted a creamy cherimoya it is dried and slightly browned cherimoya.  Rounding all this out and complimenting the lignin notes is toasted Brazil nut and a dry earthiness.  Some chocolates I note as having a very pronounced inherent sweetness.  This one does not have that and lead me to recommending it for chocolates on the more sweet side.  It really sings in 60-70% chocolate and milk chocolates.

These are out of the Alto Beni region of Bolivia and much of the stock is from the same wild harvested tress.  I find it terribly interesting how different the flavor profiles are given similar genetics but different cultivation and fermentation procedures.

As with many beans with Criollo stock, this cocoa will not blow you away with huge flavors. But very much like it's wild counterparts it is sure to wow you with it's character.

Profile Drum Roasting:  The profile I used for this is 12:30/14:45/18:45 @ 255 F or in slope notation, 11.1/8.9/5.8 @ 255 F.  What you should pull out of this 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.  This is 11/9/6 meaning you are finishing this roast at around half the speed as the start and you need to do this too keep the EOR temperature from getting too high.  Much beyond that mid 250s and you court bitter nut notes and making a pretty boring chocolate.  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.