It is the traditional practice to fire dry the cocoa beans in Papua New Guinea, and when that is done, the beans can pick up a hint (or sometimes more than a hint) of smoke or peat flavor. A lot of people in the chocolate industry find this to be a flaw. I think if you smoke dry a bad bean to cover poor quality, that is one thing, but smoke for the sake of smoke is not in my opinion a flaw. There are smoked meats, and cheeses and what comes to mind for me – Scotch.
In the past years, I have described this origin as hickory smoked bacon, but this years crop is MUCH lighter on the smoke notes. In this particular crop this smoke aroma is almost non-existent.
Now, there is more to this than just smoke. There is a nice balance of piquant acidity and base notes. It is piquant like a good Mexican tomatillo sauce. Nothing really jumps out at you , but there is a good base of chocolate flavor layered with a little dried leather, a slight savoriness and just enough acidity to bring it all together. This bean is fully fermented, so you don’t have to worry about under fermented acidity. It roasts a lot like the Ghana Forastero – pretty hot and moderately long. Maybe 325 F for 20 minutes. I am not sure everyone will appreciate the piquant notes of this bean as a single origin chocolate, but it will blend in really well for another layer if you want to do a blend. I like it as a single origin, but like drinking Scotch, you don’t drink pints. A couple pieces (or a tumbler) and that is that. But you go away content.