Flavor Notes: I am always amazed when write up these tasting notes and find the same phrase repeats itself from another bean from the same origin. In this case, it is this. There are fruits galore. They come across in the aroma first off. A tangy quality of concentrated fruit like dried figs and quince. A I bite into the chocolate and let it melt in my mouth (really, I do this even in private, it's not just for show) the gestalt impression I am left with is fruit cake. Good fruit cake that this. Flavors that are at once bright and deep toned with hints of cinnamon like tannins.
This though is not to say there is only fruit present. It's not a fruit bomb as it were. No one flavor dominates and you get a very soft fruitiness. There is also macadamia nut and toasted coconut. A deep carmelized sweetness comes through that is neither caramel nor molasses but more than brown sugar. The fruit and 'sweetness' is balanced by a black tea tannin and a solid chooclate structure.
This makes our 4th Peru lot. Just crazy. And they are all different. It is Fair Trade and Organic. And like the other Peru, I do not know its lineage exactly, but I feel confident saying based on appearance, flavor, aroma, a lighter than average break and paper thin husk, there is a significant portion of Criollo in this lot.
Visually this is an absolutely beautiful bean. The preparation is very even and consistent across the board. To add to that, the shells/husk on this cocoa is very thin. Although not something I really advocate, once properly roasted, you can actually peel these by hand if you like.
Expect it to be what it is and can be - a cocoa bean with significant Criollo stock, a "fine flavor" cocoa bean. But don't get caught up in roasting it light just because it is Criollo. I find that a common mistake. What you end up with an light or under roasted Criollo is a lack of chocolate flavor development and too much acidity.
Ff you oven roast, I suggest the following. Pre-heat your oven to 350 F (notice 25 F less than some beans). Put a pound of beans into a heavy corning ware type container, about an inch deep. Put them in for 10 minutes, stirring at 5 minutes (and every 5 minutes after this). At 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 300 and roast another 10 minutes. Pull out a handful of beans for comparison. Turn off the oven and let the remaining beans set/roast for a final 10 minutes in the cooling oven. Remove them and let them cool. This should give you a nice light delicate roasted bean.
For the Behmor 1600, load 2 lbs on P2 or P3 (1 lb setting) for 17-19 minutes. That should also give you a nice roast. If at a point it starts to smell sharp, you most likely are done or roasting too hot (if it's early in the roast).
If you are fortunate enough to have a drum roaster with bean probe, I like this taken to a surface bean temperature of 260-265 F, although if you extend it a bit to 270-275 some of the fruit notes will drop and nut and sugars will be high lighted.
If ordering Brewing cocoa - it has been roasted and ground, with the husk, for the purposes of making a hot brewed chocolate drink, and is not suitable for making chocolate.
There has recently been a lot of buzz about various brewing chocolates. Choffy and Crio Bru are the two big ones that come to mind. I've received more inquires than I can count about what makes them so special, if my roasted cocoa beans will work and how one can make their own hot chocolate drink with minimum fuss.
Your tastes may vary but I recommend starting with the following proportions and times:
4 T/8 oz boiling water
Steep 5 minutes Press (assuming you are using a press pot - drip works ok too)
Enjoy straight, with milk (or cream) and/or sugar.
I have only included the cocoa beans that I found made a good brewing chocolate. Some like the Papua New Guinea for instance, where it is great as a piquant, smoky chocolate, simply comes through sharp and acidic when brewed. Finally, keep in mind this will not give you classic 'hot chocolate'. Brewed chocolate is a different, yet very enjoyable, animal - enjoy it for what it is, not for what it is not.