Origin: Papua New Guinea - Markum
Flavor Notes: In the past years, I have described this origin as hickory smoked bacon. Last year it was very light. This time it is right in between. Goldilocks like.
In this case the smoke isn't the potentially heavy handed hickory. It's more like an applewood smoke. Here there be elegance. As is classic for PNG, there is a balance of piquant acidity and chocolate base notes. It is piquant like a good Mexican tomatillo sauce. Maybe even a little lime. There is a moderate level chocolate flavor layered with a little wet leather, a slight savoriness and a shot of acidity to bring it all together. This bean is fully fermented, so you do not have to worry about under fermented acidity. This is more of a malic as opposed to acetic acidity.
This is not what you would term an approachable chocolate. It has character and lots of it. I've yet to meet anyone that can take it or leave it. It's usually love or hate.
This is from a smaller producer in Papua New Guinea than we have offered in the past. These have a nicer preparation both in appearance and a more structured flavor.
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.
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.