Costa Rica Nahua 2017

Origin: Costa Rica

Region: Upala

Crop: 2017

Type: Trinatario

Flavor Notes:

This is not unlike the Costa Rica Azul.  It is dry, elegantly restrained, nutty and nuanced.

There is fresh fig and light tangerine in the chocolate.  It has a distinct sweet smell of light citrus.  The chocolate flavor comes across light lemon curd and fresh cherry.  There is a pithy bitterness that balances nicely against raw macadamia and pistachio and molasses sweetness if you don’t take the roast too far. (make sure you check out the roasting section for particulars of this bean)  I also get  loose leaf Earl Grey black tea and bittering hops.  The chocolate level is not huge, in a large part due to the delicate roast required not to bring out too much bitterness.  Luckily the entire profile is pretty restrained so you may not notice the overall lower intensity

Nahua applies a rigorous post-harvest fermentation process that allows the cacao bean to achieve consistent high-quality fine-flavor standards.

The process begins when Nahua’s field team transports freshly harvested cacao beans directly to a purpose-built fermentation center in Upala, Costa Rica. The fermentation process is comprised of a fully controlled stacked wooden box system, each 60 cm high, 120 cm wide and 80cm deep. Each box can hold up to 600 kilograms of fresh cocoa beans.

The ascending boxes are aligned on three separate levels and allow the team to apply a “triple revolution” process, in-line with international best practices for cacao fermentation. This process transfers the cacao beans from one box to the next, approximately every two days, resulting in a  fermentation process that lasts five to six days.

Nahua’s greenhouse applies a solar drying technique that relies on tropical climates and is specially designed to ensure temperatures average 60°C/140°F. The fermented cacao beans are placed on extended surfaces that allow for appropriate airflow, complemented by consistent agitation and quality reviews.  After a 10 day period, the cocoa beans typically reach the desired 7% moisture level and are considered ready for final packaging and shipment.

This is a bean that does not take well to rough treatment. That means no really aggressive ramps, plenty of time in the development phase and finishing phase (3 and 4 minutes respectively) with an EOR not much more than 232 F.  This is a drastic departure from most bean profiles. The profile I used for the tasting notes was 13.5/3.6/-- @ 225 F. One profile at 240 F was overly tannic.

I very much recommend you read Ask the Alchemist #243 for more details about roasting this type of bean.

The upside of this is that the Behmor and Gourmia both will give you wonderful roasts, giving sufficient but not aggressive profiles.

If ordering Brewing cocoa - it has been roasted and ground, with the husk, for the purposes of making a hot brewed chocolate drink, and is not suitable for making chocolate.

There has recently been a lot of buzz about various brewing chocolates. Choffy and Crio Bru are the two big ones that come to mind. I've received more inquires than I can count about what makes them so special, if my roasted cocoa beans will work and how one can make their own hot chocolate drink with minimum fuss.
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.
I have only included the cocoa beans that I found made a good brewing chocolate. Some like the Papua New Guinea for instance, where it is great as a piquant, smoky chocolate, simply comes through sharp and acidic when brewed. Finally, keep in mind this will not give you classic 'hot chocolate'. Brewed chocolate is a different, yet very enjoyable, animal - enjoy it for what it is, not for what it is not