Origin: Ivory Coast
Certifications: Rain Forest Alliance
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.