We are cacao farmers, not chocolate makers. But the longer we dedicate our lives to our cacao trees, the more we are convinced about a few very important things: the natural circumstances, the fermentation and the care for our trees maybe do have stronger influences on the flavour of the final product, the chocolate than the process of chocolate making itself.
Describing the flavour of cacao is constantly evolving. Special terminology is used to fill in the range of perceived flavours, aromas and general characteristics of our beloved beans. If you read a flavour profile, it almost looks like alchemy.
The first decisive influence on the flavour of cacao is coming from mother nature. We notice that the special volcanic, red soil in our province must be one of the reasons for the profound taste of our beans. It is so different from the beans we tested in both Thailand and Vietnam. Other elements like the altitude (we are 550 meters above sea level) and the humidity are playing a role too. Maybe the amount of rain is even more important than the soil. The Brazilian prof.dr. Albertus Eskes visited us early 2020. He explained that too much rain, like he experienced in Malaysia can cause too much white pulp in the beans with a negative influence on the final result.
But despite the natural circumstances we could still screw it up. However, we refuse to seek salvation in chemical fertilisers and pesticides. These products might have a short-term positive influence on the growth of the trees and the pods but we are convinced that it has an opposite effect on the flavour of the cacao bean. We also noted that our first seedlings which we got from Vietnam, grow slower and less abundant than our own grafted seedlings. The Vietnamese seedlings are always supported by a questionable abundance of chemical fertilsers.
Fermentation is perhaps the most crucial element in the subtle development of the flavour. We know now for instance that the temperature in the ferment boxes should not go higher than 48 degrees Celsius. The colour could become nicer, redder. But the taste becomes slightly more acid.
We were very happy with the flavour profile that the company Daarnhouwer , one of the oldest traders in cacao, spices, and coffee put together for us. ‘Nutty’, ‘Fresh Fruit’ and ‘Cocoa’ are the main attributes to the flavour of our Cambodian cacao.
ARETE FINE CHOCOLATE
We also received a flavour profile by Arete Chocolate makers in Tenessee, USA. They took it a step further and tested our cacao beans by roasting it on three different temperatures. They described the result as follows:
Low Roast: Mildest in flavor, the most complex. Mild astringency, but not unpleasant. Nutty. Deep fudge.
Medium Roast: Brighter in flavor than the low roast. Fruit notes begin to emerge. Fruity, raisin, tobacco. Less nutty.
High Roast: Least complex of the roasts. Deeper fudge flavor. Mild bitterness, nuttier than the medium roast. Fruit notes similar to the medium roast but milder, less intense.