Region: Ben Tre - Mekong Delta
This is the first time I've offered beans from Vietnam. In the past, many years ago, I sample quite a few only to be disappointed by them all. All three (Tien Giang, Ben Tre and Lam Dong) this time are worlds apart from those early days. Big and bold characterize all of them
There is a coconut aroma. And no, not because they are among coconut groves, even though that is where the tree are. There is also a strong aroma of chocolate.
The flavor is big and intense. It is tangy and the deep sharp flavor of raisins and a heafty does of chocolate. There is a moderate but perfectly balanced astringency and bitterness. In both cases it is a soft bitterness and astringency. There is a hint of cardamom and a clean earthiness are in there also.
I had the privilege to meet with the founders of Marou chocolate at Chocolate Fest 2015. Introductions lead to conversation which lead to talk of how they got started (big surprise, it was Chocolate Alchemy) and an offer by them to help me bring in some of the beans they use. In short, this is the result. Direct trade beans grown by farmers from the Ben Tre province in the Mekong Delta, where cacao trees are planted among the coconut groves.
As for roasting, feel free to experiment here. These are big bold beans and have so much going on that they can handle a wide range, but fermented well enough to accept a light roast if that is to your liking. Really, you are going to be hard pressed to mess these up. I know that scares some people, but just do it. You will be fine.
If in doubt, go long. 18-20 minutes in the Behmor on p1 or p2 (2 lbs). 375-400 F for 30-35 minutes in the oven also for a couple pounds. 260-270 F final temperature in a drum roaster if you have it.