Peru Ucayali 2022 Organic

Origin: Peru
Region: Ucayali River
Type: ICS, TCH, IMC, CMP and local varieties
Certifications: Direct Trade, Organic
Year: 2022

First and foremost, this Ucayali is a different lot than we have had for the last 2 years and it is DIFFERENT.  Although still the 2022, this one is after the co-op got their official Organic Certification.  The other was unofficially organic.  Onward!

The aroma has a tart note of dried dates and unmistakable cinnamon.   And for once, the taste that comes right out of the gate matches the aroma with cinnamon in spades.  That spice can come across as bitterness if you pay attention to it but there is a natural sweetness that makes it all meld together gracefully.  I also taste allspice and clove in the background. 

Like the previous lot, this is a very easy eating chocolate, eminently approachable but not even close to being boring.  There is creamy, milk chocolate with cashews in there that makes it so easy to eat. Unlike the last lot, and unlike many beans from Peru, the acidity and fruit levels are very restrainted to the point that you only know they are there because the chocolate isn't flabby but other than an impression of dates, there is little fruit flavors.

Ucayali River Cacao is located near Pucallpa, Ucayali, Peru.  Until recently this area has not been known for fine cacao, but due to the efforts of USAID and Alianza Cacao of Peru there are farmers that are abandoning coca production for Cacao, Coffee and Oil Palm.   URC is working together with USAID and Alianza Cacao of Peru to purchase raw material from these farmers at a price that is above market.   There goal is to produce a high quality fine cacao while helping these farmers earn a legitimate income rather than returning to coca production.

URC is working with close to 400 small farmers.  Many of them are located within a 30 minute drive of the central processing facility. 

While most of the farmers in our area have lots of CCN-51, we work only with ICS, TCH, IMC, CMP and local varieties that are known as “comun”.    This mixture of varieties combined with frequent collaboration with Daniel O’Doherty of Cacao Services, enables us to produce a unique cacao for our customers.

Dan's influence in the fermentation is quite clear with a very even, beautiful and full fermentation.  You can taste another bean collaboration with Ecuador Esmeralda.

Profile Drum Roasting:   Feel free to take the kid gloves off here.  This bean isn't a delicate bean like many from Peru.  It benefits from a strong firm hand.  There is so much depth of flavor here that you can and should roast fast.  I've found slower roasts fail to develop the flavor and you end up with astringency that otherwise would not be there. Really, words are not the best medium for conveying how to roast.  The profile I used for this is 14:45/16:45/21:30 @ 258 F.  That said, you do want to slow down once you are in the Development phase or you risk not having enough time in the Finishing phase.

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: You will need an IR thermometer.  Roast 2 lb of beans.  Preheat your over to 325 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 15-25 F above your target EOR, in this case 260 + ~20 = 280 and continue to roast, stirring every 5 minutes until approximately 255-260 F.  Again, there will be variation but the beauty of this method is having turned the oven down it is difficult to over roast.  The important part here is to get good momentum going in a hot oven and then basically coasting to finish.  You may not get much chocolate or brownie aroma with this one.