Region: Wild Harvest
Type: HCP Heirloom
Certs: Direct Trade
This is another offering wild harvest beans. Like Tranquillidad, 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 mouthwateringly bold and undeniably chocolate with undertones of cured leaf tobacco and caramelized sugar. In short, this is a chocolate bomb. Think a chewy, thick, heavy mouthfeel with layers of that caramilzed sugar. The fruit present is a sweet dried fig and date sugar. There are no particular floral notes and although there is an impression of nut, I don't actually find any nut character. This means you don't have to worry about it going bitter from roasting too much. The earthy flavors are clean, again of dried and cured tobacco and rich loam.
To put this into perspective, this is now in my top 10 cocoa in the last 18 years and precisely why I fell in love with this bean some 12 years ago.
This too 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.
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.
If a bit of this sounds familiar it is because these beans are related to the Tranquillidad beans, In some ways these are even more wild in that these are a collection of producer fermented beans so there is a lot more variation in fermentation and drying times. This means the beans look a lot more uneven but contrary to initial impressions I find this give a lot more depth of flavor to a bean that is already deep in flavor and complexity.
The first thing you should do is read my Ask the Alchemist 239 where I discuss roasting smaller beans.
After that, you can treat this bean pretty aggressively as there is tons of chocolate and no real nut If you are drum roasting that means 10/8/6 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 but I've yet to be ab. 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.
In the Behmor, P1 with 2.5 lbs of beans for 18 minutes is a good sweet spot. If you are only roasting 2 lbs then pay attention to sharp aromas near the end of the roast and stop at that point.
This Brewing cocoa works well in coffee brewers and actually mixed with coffee. Other brewing cocoas can have a tendency to muddy the flavor of coffee I have found, or worse, clog brewing filters or screens. Your mileage may vary, but I’ve found 1:1 ratio wonderful, and if you are just a little careful, so it does not overflow, even straight can work well. Your tastes may vary but I recommend starting with the following proportions and times: 4 T/8 oz boiling water Steep 5 minutes Press (assuming you are using a press pot - drip works ok too) Enjoy straight, with milk (or cream) and/or sugar.