Ivory Coast - RFA - 2019/20

Origin: Ivory Coast

Crop: 2019/20

Type: Forastero

Certifications: Rain Forest Alliance

Flavor Notes

The aroma – chocolate, dark spice (pepper?) and a really rare floral component. Are you ready for this one – chamomile and a hint of lilac.  Perfume.  That part of the spider chart is nearly always really low to non-existent.  Here it is quite clear.  There is virtually no astringency which is quite a surprise. There are also soft pumpkin pie spices in there. Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and mace floating and twirling together. The acid balance is right on – not really fruity (but flowery from the chamomile), but it is there nonetheless. It has hints of light biscuit (that baking bread smell), a little black pepper (odd, but after two days tasting it, that is what comes to mind) and of course the rather characteristic and “classic” earthy chocolate flavor back up by a bit of toasted Brazil nut or muted hazelnut.  Finally there is a hint of fresh leather.

Hopefully you know me well enough by now that you know I don’t put a lot of stock into names and labels. That said, this origin (the Ivory Coast of Africa) has quite the infamous reputation and it is only origin I have refused to even taste or consider until I could verify the conditions of the works, hence the Rain Forest Alliance designation.

Give this a try. It is only the 2nd time I've offered this, but as always, it isn’t about just the label (nor ever about just the label – organic, FT, Criollo) it’s about how the beans taste the heady chocolate they will allow you to make. This really shows just how nice Forastero can be.

As for the cocoa itself, there is a second component to the Ivory Coast’s reputation – they produce some rather nice cocoa. It is a fully fermented Forastero. The preparation is a little uneven from a sorting perspective. There are a few flats and broken beans, but nothing that really makes it difficult to work with. I suggest not even sorting before hand. The process or roasting, cracking and winnowing will take care of sorting better than you can by eye.

Profile Drum Roasting:  The profile we use is 11:00/13:15/18:00 @ 260 F.  It is a nice robust roast, just over 2 minutes in the Development phase and a solid 5 minutes (just under) Finishing phase to keep raw astringency in check.  And this is a prime example that floral components, as delicate as we like to think of them aromatically, are not delicate from a roasting perspective.  They persevere.

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:  I've been experimenting a lot recently with a less fussy way to oven roast and I find this procedure works pretty well.  It is moderately predictable, repeatable and although not as dynamic and controllable as a drum roaster, does a good job. You will need an IR thermometer.  Roast 2 lb of beans.  Preheat your over to 350 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 10-15 F above your target EOR, in this case 260 + ~15 = 275 and continue to roast, stirring every 5 minutes until approximately 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.  If you do find your roast is progressing too fast, adjust accordingly, starting at 325 F and/or changing your target to 265 F.  Overall you may well roast 30-40 minutes.  The important part here is to get good momentum going in a hot oven and then basically coasting to finish.