Venezuelan Ocumare - 2016

  • Origin: Venezuela

    Type: Criollo

    Year: 2016

    Flavor Notes:

    I particularly like this new crop of Ocumare. For those unfamiliar it, this is a well fermented Criollo with a number of delicate high notes. The Ocumare is the type of cocoa bean that gave Criollo it's reputation. This 2016 crop has a the classic tangy berry that it had in previous years, and has a stronger more integrated chocolate flavor in general.

    As it usually has, there is a great dry biscuity aroma that comes off during the roast. After that, there are some wood-like aromas, hints of pine and oak. Overlaid on all of that is the classic Criollo high fruity note. I honestly can not put a name to the fruit. It is not quite berries, or citrus but is also both. The flavor profile pretty much matches the aroma, a little biscuit-like, mostly high bright notes, and a low key chocolate flavor. Like most Criollo, this is not a super chocolatey cocoa bean, but does have more than many years and origins.

    What you'll get is a medium fruited chocolate with good chocolate flavor. Possibly a little ripe strawberry, plum, vanilla, caramel and almond.

  • "Ocumare" is from the Ocumare de la Costa Valley and a variant unto itself, and has many single strains such as Ocumare 67. It's officially a blend of Criollo and Trinatario, but as Trinatario is a hybrid of Forastero and Criollo, it's easy enough to understand that a given strain of cocoa can have a particular percentage of that sought after Criollo, and in many cases it is considered a Criollo. Now, I'm not going to throw numbers at you because the farmers picking it don't know, so how could I know just from tasting and evaluating it?

    What I can tell you is that if you compare the 'break' of the nib you will see it is reasonably light. The lighter that break, the GENERAL trend there is to more Criollo. Forastero is rather dark, often purple or deep brown. A good solid, middle of the road Trinatario (think Dominican Republic or Panama) are a mid to dark brown. A cocoa bean with heavier Criollo in its breeding will be a lighter brown, and real Criollo (especially Porcelano) can be down right pale brown with the finished chocolate looking almost like milk chocolate. This lot of Ocumare is a nice medium light brown, with a few darker and lighter nibs tossed in.

  • It really does not require a heavy roast to bring out the flavor, and you may lose some of the delicate highlight if roasted too far, but also, do be sure to roast it fully or you may not find all it has to offer.

    In the past I gave a word of caution on the roasting of this Ocumare. To take it easy. You still don‰۪t want a very heavy roast, but the extra chocolate level does allow for a wider margin if that suits your tastes.

    The oven roasting profile I gave for last year's crop will work well, so I will just repeat it here.

    Pre-heat your oven to 340 F. Put a pound of beans into a heavy corning ware type container, about an inch deep. Put them in for 10 minutes, stirring at 5 minutes (and every 5 minutes after this). At 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 300 and roast another 10 minutes. Pull out a handful of beans for comparison. Turn off the oven and let the remaining beans set/roast for a final 10 minutes in the cooling oven. Remove them and let them cool. This should give you a nice light roasted bean. Compare the two sets and see what you think and adjust your roasting from there.