Madagascar Sambirano Valley Organic - 2023 - Archived

Origin: Madagascar Sambirano Valley

Type: Trinatario

Certifications: Organic

Year: 2023

Flavor Notes:

The old powerhouse is back. It has generally gained the reputation as an immensely complex cocoa bean with a huge potential. On the other hand, if you do not prep it correctly (which I fully plan to help you do, prep it correctly that is) the finished chocolate has a tendency to simply rip the tongue out of your mouth, beat you around the head and shoulders with it, turn around and walk out of the room. Did I mention powerhouse? Now, if I have not scared you away (which of course is never my intent), then you will find this year is another great year for Madagascar.

This year it is again exploding with raspberry.  The aroma starts off strong with raspberry, strawberry and of course chocolate. As you know, both of those fruits can have a real zing, but they also have depth.  The flavor is tart vibrant raspberry and tangy citric acid.    There is better balance than I have some years. The chocolate level is up, astringency has dropped and the bitterness is in great balance with the sweetness.  There is a roundness of cashew that I find helps to tie it all together.  If you have stayed clear of this origin in the past, than I urge you to give it a try. It could well surprise you.

That up there is all with a solid deep roast.  On the other hand, feel free to take this very light and tart lemonade, cherry sour kriek and NW IPA all mixed together will be awaiting you.  You've been warned.

This is a fine flavor grade of cocoa Trinatario from Madagascar, Sambirano Valley. It is a Single Estate Cacao from the Northern Ambanja region and is Certified Organic. We briefly carried this origin a couple years ago, but sold out very quickly. This time I think I have enough of a supply locked in that it will be around a while.

The preparation on this bean is very clean and nice, and has an interesting red tone to the bean as is pretty common with this origin.

I really like how wide of a roasting profile you can give this bean. As I mentioned, if you go light you are going to experience your own unique acid trip. Medium, and it will give you lovely depth of fruit and chocolate and should you go heavy, that too is fine. You will find raisin abounds.

There will be LOTS of volatile acids produced when you roast so watch out. Those alone can knock you on your @$$. But they are also a good roast indicator. When those start to decrease.  Don't wait for the chocolate aroma on this one. It is there, but by the time you smell it the volatiles will be long gone and some of the great potential complexity will be gone too.

Profile Drum Roasting:  The profile I used for this is 12:15 / 14:30 / 20:00 @ 260 F or in slope notation, 10/9/5 @ 260 F.  What you should pull out of this is that you should not come in hot and heavy but steady.  2.5 minutes in the development phase to bring out the chocolate without giving the roast too much momentum.  After that, you want to turn the roast down quite a bit so you can stretch it out.   This is 11/9/5  meaning you are finishing this roast at less than half the speed (11 div 5) as the start and you need to do this too keep the time at the EOR temperature from being too short.  Much faster than 4.5 minutes and there is just too much acidity present and not enough heat penetration for a full roast. Slow and steady wins the race.  But I want to caution about just doing 'long and low' as seems to be a thing.  If you do that you run the pretty high risk of not developing the flavors that are there and in that case you could well be left with the dreaded boring yet acidic chocolate.

Behmor:  Due to the cold start of the the Behmor, you can just set it on the 1 lb setting with 2.0 - 2.5 lb of cocoa and go.  When you begin getting aromatic notes, somewhere around 4 minutes left (14 minutes elapsed of the 18 minute start) drop the power to P4 (75% power) and continue roasting for about another 6-8 minutes, waiting for the aroma to either decrease or get extra sharp.  This is all of course if you don't have a thermocouple in the beans (Modifying your Behmor) If you have that you can follow the profiles above.

Oven Roasting:  I've been experimenting a lot recently with a less fussy way to oven roast and I find this procedure works pretty well.  It is moderately predictable, repeatable and although not as dynamic and controllable as a drum roaster, does a good job. You will need an IR thermometer.  Roast 2 lb of beans.  Preheat your over to 350 F.  Place your cocoa beans in a single layer on a baking sheet and into the oven. Stir the beans at 5 minutes and check the temperature.  Continue roasting until the surface temperature reads 205-215 F (it may well vary across the beans).  At that point, turn your oven down to about 10-15 F above your target EOR, in this case 260 + 15 = 275 and continue to roast, stirring every 5 minutes until approximately 260-265 F.  Again, there will be variation but the beauty of this method is having turned the oven down it is difficult to over roast.  If you do find your roast is progressing too fast, adjust accordingly, starting at 325 F and/or changing your target to 265 F.  Overall you may well roast 30-40 minutes.  The important part here is to get good momentum going in a hot oven and then basically coasting to finish.  You of course change your EOR lower if you want.  Just adjust that final temperature accordingly.