Region: Alto Beni
Certifications: Certified Organic
Oh my goodness, where did the TWO chocolate bars on my desk go? Who are you looking at? I didn't eat them....I mean... I didn't mean to eat them...ok, I ate them and they made me happy!!
ATTENTION chocolate lovers, This is the chocolate you are looking for. It starts off....hang on, before I get into the chocolate, I want to talk about the elephant in the room and that is the crop year for this bean. It is 2018-19 and that is not a typo and these are no more 'old beans' than a fine old wine or block of aged cheddar is 'old'. No, they are all delightfully mature and wearing their age proudly. I'm quite serious. There are so many people looking for the freshest beans, thinking that means something more than it does. Anyone that tells you that fresh is best, always, is....I'll just say it...wrong. Yes, beans can go past their prime just like a wine can but no one can tell you when that is going to happen. That all said, these tasting notes are 100% current, made with these beans that were harvested 4 years ago, and if anything, I think they might be better now than they were a couple years ago. We'll chat about that. Let's carry on.
The aroma starts off big bold round chocolate notes and under currents of sun warmed, perfectly ripe blackberries. The blackberry backs off in the flavor, although it is still present, and you then have layers of clean sweet sugar, soft, delicate dried fruits (a creamy cherimoya comes to mind), a certain savory butteriness and a great chocolate backbone lacing it together all throughout. The bitterness and astringency present when this bean was more fresh, has backed off and melded together into a supple creamy symphony that has you craving just another bite. With those notes in the background, the natural sweetness just shines though and the tangy blackberry makes me think of blackberries and cream. Refreshing and delightful. Although not strong, the nut is a soft roasted peanut coupled with a delicate bottom note of earthy soft leather.
Ok, I'm going to go have another piece or two of this chocolate from my desk....it really is the chocolate you are looking for.
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. To repeat myself (from the Wild Bolivians), this cocoa and the chocolate that can be made from it just makes me happy.
Profile Drum Roasting: You should approach this roast in the same way I describe the flavor. Quiet but assured. There is a finesse here and you should not quite take that to mean delicate. Really, words are not the best medium for conveying how to roast. The profile I used for this is 14:05/16:20/21:30 @ 256 F or in slope notation, 11/9/4.25 @ 256 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 peanut 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 11/9/4 meaning you are finishing this roast at 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 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 256 + ~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.