Region: Lam Dong
This is the first time I've offered beans from Vietnam. In the past, many years ago, I sample quite a few only to be disappointed by them all. All three (Tien Giang, Ben Tre and Lam Dong) this time are worlds apart from those early days. Big and bold characterize all of them
Fruit cake. In so many ways that sums up this bean.
Chocolate aroma with a touch of allspice. I have to admit, I actually moaned (just a little) with my first bite. But I love fruit cake. There is the sharp tang of tamarind and a big round mouthfeel. There is this softness of cashews. But also a higher but very controlled acidity. Tons of dried fruit. Low bitterness, but the piquant and astringent nature of the tamarind notes keep it fully in balance. And just juicy and mouthwatering.
Fruitcake. Spice, boldness, low plus complex bittering spices. What more can you ask?
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 small farms of Lam Dong province at the foot of the Central Highlands of the Annamitic range
As for roasting, feel free to experiment here. These are intense and bold flavored 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. 17-19 minutes in the Behmor on p1 or p2 (2 lbs). 375-400 F for 25-35 minutes in the oven also for a couple pounds. 260-270 F final temperature in a drum roaster if you have it.
It is pretty subtle, but the only thing extra I'll mention is that the beans are a little on the smaller side so you may find they roast a little faster in the oven.