Mexico Camino Cacao - Direct Trade - 2023

Origin: Mexico

Region: Chontalpa, Tabasco

Type:  Mix of Trinitario hybrids, local criollos and INIFAP selections

Certifications: Direct Trade

Harvest Year: 2023

Flavor notes:

It never fails to excite me when I have a new origin to announce.  It is twice the fun when I can't seem to stop eating the chocolate.  Check out the spider chart.  The flavor is as big and full as the chart indicates.

The aroma is deep, rich chocolate, plain and simple.  Likewise, the first impression when you take a bite is fudge like chocolate.  There are dark brown fruits.  They are the classics: dates and dried fig wrapped in a clean earthiness.  Like many dried fruits there is a low tangy acidity but it is soft, not sharp.   I get green leaf tobacco and an incredible sweetness.  

I was rather expecting a nut component but it just isn't there particularly.  In many beans, if there a nut flavor you have to be careful with the roast lest it create a harsh  bitterness.  There are hints of the smoothness of cashew but I find it more of an impression that the actual flavor.

The bitterness and astringency that are present are just delightful, keeping the chocolate engaging instead of off putting. The integration is elegant and smooth. Overall I find it devilishly approachable and also refreshingly satiating.


Camino Cacao was founded as an impact-driven company designed to push back against declining cacao yields and deforestation in Mexico while providing meaningful livelihoods to small producers with few prospects for long term client relationships. Carlos Azcuaga, one of Camino’s founders, has a passion for implementing agroforestry systems in cacao orchards and, with the help of consultants, has provided ~3000 hours of technical training and assistance in the field of syntropic agroforestry to the small holders in the area.

Many of the producing parcels are 60+ years old and have declining yields. The hope is that through a more holistic approach to farming, producers in Tabasco will achieve both economic viability and environmental sustainability. They are currently operating in Chontalpa, Tabasco but have plans to expand southward towards the border of Tabasco and Chiapas to aid even more small landholders.

Camino Cacao purchases cacao en baba from about 235 smallholders with 370
hectares of producing land near Chontalpa where it is then processed at their local facility.

With how strong and bold this bean is, you can approach the roast the same way.

Profile Drum Roasting:  Really, words are not the best medium for conveying how to roast.  The profile I used for this is 13:40/15:50/19:50 @ 263 F

What you should pull out of this is that you can come in pretty hot and heavy.  Barely over 2 minutes in the development phase to brings out the chocolate without any ill effects.  After that, you want to turn the roast down a bit.  Much beyond that mid 260s and you court bitter notes  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 chocolate.

Behmor:  Due to the cold start of the the Behmor, you can just set it on the 1 lb setting with 2.0 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 P3 (50% power) and continue roasting for about another 6-8 minutes, waiting for the aroma to either decrease or get 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: You will need an IR thermometer.  Roast 2 lb of beans.  Preheat your over to 325 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 10-15 F above your target EOR, in this case 260 + ~15 = 275 and continue to roast, stirring every 5 minutes until approximately 260 F.  Again, there will be variation but the beauty of this method is having turned the oven down it is difficult to over roast.  The important part here is to get good momentum going in a hot oven and then basically coasting to finish.  You may not get much chocolate or brownie aroma with this one.