Mexican Lavados (washed / unfermented) Oaxaca 2021

Origin: Mexico

Region: Oaxaca

Type: Trinatario

Certs: Direct Trade

Crop: 2021

Fermentation: None, washed raw cocoa

Flavor Notes:

I'm going to start with a quote from the grower.

"Due to the rainy weather and cold climate, cocoa fermentation is an impossible task.
However, farmers “wash” cacao according to the Mexican tradition. And as washed cacao the bean shines in drinking chocolate with its strong and herbal flavor notes. "

There are a few things to unpack here.  First and foremost, this cocoa is not fermented and because of that, it is particularly unsuited for classic eating chocolate.  I'm not going to bother with my classic spider chart as it will show 11s (and it only goes to 5) for extreme bitterness and astringency, plus other really funky notes like green banana skin and citrus pith with undertones of sour stone fruit and unripe green peppers.  So why am I offering it?  Well, there are two reasons, and the second one was a glorious surprise (a huge hint is in the photos).

This unfermented and raw cocoa is absolutely great for drinking chocolate.  I'm not meaning Brewing cocoa nor am I meaning sipping chocolate that is little more than melting chocolate in a cup.  I'm meaning something you would mix with water or milk and as little or as much sugar as you would like. Once you have diluted it with liquid, the astringency drops away to something much more balanced and even kind of addictive.  As for the taste, the chocolate is a little understated but certainly there. The mouthfeel is wonderfully thick and full and that unripe pepper flavor I mentioned integrates in a lovely fashion, with back notes of nut and chili pepper.

I recommend making a 50-60% chocolate with it as you normally would.  For drinks, grate up about 1-2 oz per cup of liquid and mix it until well incorporated.  I personally like using my espresso machine to steam it together but just doing it on the stove top or pouring boiling water or hot milk over it and then whisking will do just fine.

Now, for the other thing you can do with this beans. Remember Ruby Chocolate?  As a review for people, this isn't a new chocolate.  It is just certain raw beans, when high in  catechins turn either red or purple when treated with acid.  Ruby chocolate is the red phase.  This cocoa turns purple and you can make your own Amethyst chocolate. Here is how I made the chocolate you see in the photos.

  • 100 g unroasted Oaxaca Lavados
  • 10 g citric acid dissolved in 20 g water
  • 300 g cocoa butter
  • 300 g milk powder
  • 290 g sugar
  • optional
  • 10 g vanilla powder
  • 10 g citric acid

 Dissolve the 10 g of citric acid in the water (you might have to heat it) and then mix that with the nibs.  Let the set and absorb the liquid for 24 hours.  Then lay them out on a tray and dry them at about 150 F until the weight is back down to 100 g.  Since the nibs are unroasted, they will have some water which will also be driven off, giving you technically less weight than you started with (i.e. 100 nib + 10 acid = 110 g total).  This should take a few hours and the added benefit is that should there be any bacteria on them (one of the MAJOR reasons I don't like raw chocolate) those should be killed off with this drying step.

At this point, just make the chocolate as you would any other.  I really like the added vanilla and extra citric acid but they are optional and only for flavor.

You'll note there are two different purple chocolates in the photo. This 10% one is the darker one, the lighter one that resembles Ruby chocolate is 5%.  Also, that recipe is just a jumping off point.  Feel free to experiment.  The only really thing you need to keep in place is adding 10% of the weight of the nibs worth of citric acid (in theory other dry acids like ascorbic and malic acid will work also) and driving the water off.


Our Oaxacan cacao come from a small village located in the Sierra Norte de Oaxaca called “San Felipe de León”, belonging to the municipality of San Juan Bautista Valle Nacional.  The village is inhabited by around 300 people of the “chinanteco” indigenous minority. Their mother tongue is “chinanteco”, an endangered native language with around 100,000 speakers, but most of them are fluent in Spanish.
Most of the 80 households rely on agriculture for their livelihood. They grow corn, squash, frijoles, citrus, green beans for home consumption and raise chickens and turkeys in their backyards. The village has traditionally focused on growing coffee as a cash crop for several decades, but due to the overproduction in Mexico and the resulting low prices, people have been slowly switching to Theobroma Bicolor and Theobroma Cacao. One of the most important growers in the community is Dionisia.

She is also in charge of organizing all the other cacao and pataxte farmers to be able to fulfill orders collectively.  The extreme poverty of the region has forced many young men to move to the big industrial cities in the center of Mexico. Many work as undocumented immigrants across the US.

Post-harvest & farm:
The farm owned by Dionisia is located at the top of a small mountain. It takes over an hour on foot to go there from Dionisia’s house, the path is uphill through the forest.
Land is fertile and there is no lack of water, you find many creeks crisscrossing the landscape.

Although Oaxaca is famous for their moles and drinking chocolate, cacao production in Oaxaca is marginal up to the point that it is not even mentioned in the cacao production statistics, and it is barely monitored. A little over 100 tons are thought to be harvested in Oaxaca each year, almost all of that cacao is grown in what is called “backyard gardens” (cultivos de traspatio in Spanish). Production is too low and too dispersed, preventing any attempt to ferment Oaxacan cacao. It is only available as cacao lavado (unfermented washed cacao) in small quantities.

 

The thing about unfermented cocoa is that it hardly cares or is affected by roasting profiles.  Don't worry about profiles, just apply heat until you get to an EOR temperature of 255-265 F.  It is really no more complicated than that.

If you are roasting blind in the Behmor, P1 loaded with 2 lb going to 18 minutes will be just fine.  It isn't like you can make it extra bitter or astringent.  If you are doing 1 kg, go on to 20 minutes and 2.5 you'll probably need another couple after that.