Ecuador Microlot Cultivagro

Origin: Ecuador

Region: Cultivagro

Type: CCN-51

Year: 2015

The very first thing I want to point out is that you should not judge this bean by it's cultivar.  CCN-51 does not have a very good reputation, which is the exact reason I don't like listing it.  People jump to conclusions based on what they have read.  Or tasted in a 'classic' example.  That said, this is not a classic sample of CCN-51 in that it's pretty good (or I would not be offering it).  It is a touch bitter and astringent (please keep reading and go look at my discussion about this with the La Buceta) but in a crisp and 'this doesn't suck' kind of way.

Wood and leather are in the nose of the chocolate.  A tangy sourdough aroma while roasting.

Surprisingly mild chocolate.  There is a pleasently bracing acidity that is almost metalic in flavor.  I would  normally I would find off putting but works well in the context of a leathery back bone and blackberry fruit. A touch of oak wood plays well with the leather leaving a dry yet satisfying finish.

I would love to pair this with other ‘dry’ items like English tea, Scotch, tannic red wines and crispy whole grain breads.

The family farm where this lot is from is located in an up and coming cacao producing area known as “La Penisula” on the edge of the Guayas and Santa Elena provinces about a 45 minute drive on the coastal highway from downtown Guayaquil.  The cacao plantation is situated between other crops including coffee, tropical flowers, banana and hard wood.  The owner has taken great care to ensure the purity of the variety by sourcing material directly from Homero Castro´s, the father of CCN-51, farm in Naranjal.  He has also worked to improve the post-harvest process to bring out nutty and fruity flavors.

Again, with all the micro lots, the preparation is spectacular and the farmers have done a great job in bringing other flavors to the foreground in this cultivar.

Given the cultivar strain in this particular lot, I'm going to recommend a moderate roast level.  Heavy enough to keep the astringecy at bay, but no so dark as to burn away the floral notes and shift the balance of the chocolate too far to the challenging side.  I would lean toward a slightly gentle treatment of the bean.  P3-P5 on the Behmor, to 16-17 minutes.  A little darker if it suits your fancy. 

For drum roasting, that means keeping the ambient temperature between 300-325 and a 265 F surface temperature at the end of the roast.