Origin: Ivory Coast
Certifications: Rain Forest Alliance
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 Fair Trade 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.
The fermentation is quite even with not a hint of purple in the nibs. The aroma – chocolate, dark spice (pepper?) and roasting bread. And are you ready for this one – lilac. Perfume. There is virtually no astringency which is quite a surprise. There is also soft pumpkin pie spices in there. Cinnamon, nutneg and allspice floating and twirling together. The acid balance is right on – not really fruity (but flowery from the lilac), but 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.
This is also a good beginner bean. I like this best roasted a little heavier than I do some beans, so don’t be afraid to let it pop. It’s fine lighter also, but it develops a nice depth of flavor “darker”. That means an extra 5 minutes and 25 F hotter in an oven. 300-310 F for a drum roaster or a good full 18-19 minutes on any of the Behmor profiles.