Region: Ben Tre - Mekong Delta
It is great to have these (and more) back. In the past, many years ago, I sampled quite a few beans from Vietnam only to be disappointed by them all. It is wonderful to see that is no longer the case. All 5 (Tien Giang, Ben Tre, Dak Nong, Dak Lak and Lam Dong) this time are worlds apart from those early days. Big and bold characterize all of them
There is a coconut aroma. And no, not because they are among coconut groves, even though that is where the tree are. There is also a strong aroma of chocolate.
The flavor is big and intense. It is tangy acidity of cherry pie and peach and the deep sharp flavor of raisins and a heafty does of chocolate. There is a moderate but perfectly balanced astringency and bitterness. In both cases it is a soft bitterness and astringency. There is a hint of cashew and a clean leather like earthiness in there also.
I had the privilege to meet with the founders of Marou chocolate at Chocolate Fest 2015. Introductions lead to conversation which lead to talk of how they got started (big surprise, it was Chocolate Alchemy) and an offer by them to help me bring in some of the beans they use. In short, this is the result. Direct trade beans grown by farmers from the Ben Tre province in the Mekong Delta, where cacao trees are planted among the coconut groves.
As for roasting, feel free to experiment here. These are big bold beans and have so much going on that they can handle a wide range, but fermented well enough to accept a light roast if that is to your liking. Really, you are going to be hard pressed to mess these up. I know that scares some people, but just do it. You will be fine.
If in doubt, go long. 18-22 minutes in the Behmor on p1 or p2 (2 lbs). Starting at 375-400 F in the oven also for a couple pounds and moving down to 275-300 F over 30 minutes should do well. 260-270 F final temperature in a drum roaster if you have it. I used a profile of 10:30/12:45/16:45 @ 262 F.