Origin: India, Jangareddygudem
Type: Forastero and Trinatario
Certifications: Direct Trade
Harvest Year: 2016
This is going to be an odd review. In short I'm going to putting all my cards on the table. I don't like to hide behind spin. I hope you know by now I do my best to be straight forward and up front in my dealings, so without further ado.
Let me say at the outset that I did not like this bean immediately out of the melanger. Frankly, it kind of both saddened and made me a bit nervous. It tasted....odd. And having any entire shipment of it that I've spent the last year bring in is not a great place to be in. And it explains why it's been here a few weeks and has not been available. I simply will not sell a bean I am not willing to stand behind. I would prefer to take the not insubstantial loss than put out bad or questionable beans. But they are here. Read on.
When I sat down to taste them (I made three batches trying to suss out what was going on) it was with not exactly an open mind and quite a bit of trepidation. Was I going to like them? Maybe I would offer them a discount. How about if I put a special out there to see if other people were tasting what I was tasting. Since they came in all those thoughts and ideas have been going around in my head. And they have been tempered against the fact that not everyone who I had taste the chocolate found it as odd as I and a couple other people did.
The result is that At 3 weeks I am warming to them quite a bit more. The odd flavor seems to have disappeared. I don't completely have an answer, but upon tasting I started to relax. They were and are not bad beans. Initially there was this very particular sharp acid like bite in all three batches (yeah, I am totally selling this up, aren't I!) but that taste had completely disappeared....to my great relief. At which my decision about what to say and do was made. I would tell you all and put them out there. Pretty simple really. So this time you are going to get three tasting notes. One for my now standard 80%, a 70% to see if a touch sweeter would help, and a 60%.
I'm going to lead with the sweetest at 60%. There is a light woody oak and sagebrush aroma. It is of course very sweet and not really very complicated. The very dry woody notes present in the aroma and the darker versions disappear and you are left with…..a very light hint of fruit, and acid has faded away. As have most of the other flavors. I'm mostly writing this for completeness. At 60% I can't say I recommend it. It isn't bad, but it isn't much of anything either.
I am going to swing the other way and talk about the 80% which is my standard evaluation chocolate. The aroma is a sharp tang of leather makes me think of a particular type called latigo. There is heavy molasses and very dark sugar like the molten sugar on crème brule. There are also dried dates and black mission figs. The astringency present is distinctly toasted woody oak. This is not a cocoa I would slate for a high percent chocolate.
That leads me to my favorite expression of this bean. A 70%. There is light toasted oak in the aroma. The oak taste is tamed and very dry. The latigo leather is still present and in a good balance.. The overall flavor is a somewhat muted at 80% but more rounded.
This is the first time I've mentioned a chocolate actually needing a resting period or minor aging. In all three tests the flavor and aroma benefited from 2-3 weeks in bulk. Don't judge it until you do that, but certainly taste it. There is no reason you are not like 1/2 the people who liked it right out of the melanger.
So where this does not make for the most nuanced of chocolates, it is now currently my absolute favorite brewing cocoa. It has a deep chocolate aroma and flavor, a huge (for brewing cocoa) mouth feel and balance.
This bean has been a long time coming. I've been tasting and evaluating samples for over a year. Some fantastic, some ok. At the end of the day I took a chance and brought some in.
In so many ways it is in support of the group of 12 farmers within a radius of 20 kms from Jangareddygudem in the upper west mountain area. Two of these farms grow cocoa under palm (oil) trees while the remaining farms grow under coconut trees. All are very small holding, growing a variety of crops to make ends meet. They are slowly but surely learning more and more about cocoa.
I'm working to get them more information and feedback to improve their fermentation consistency from crop to crop and it is coming along.
It's my hope you will of course support me in supporting them. It's one of the many reasons we are in this, right?
I found both reasonably light and medium roasts to work fine for this bean. That means 16-20 minutes on any of the Behmor profiles. That translates to 240-265 F surface temperature. Much beyond that and you run the risk of makng this mild bean even milder.
It is worth noting again that I find a 14-21 day rest is recommended after making it into chocolate to reduce some inherent acidity that did not seem to reduce too much during refining.
So where this does not make for the most nuanced of chocolates, it is now currently my absolute favorite brewing cocoa. It has a deep chocolate aroma and flavor, a huge (for brewing cocoa) mouthfeel and balance. It is the one single origin brewing cocoa that I have roasted deeper than for chocolate making. It really makes this cocoa sing.
Standard Brewing cocoa information.
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.
Your tastes may vary but I recommend starting with the following proportions and times:
4 T per 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.