A Batch of Beans In Question…

I have been tinkering with this batch of beans for quite a while now. It is by no doubt fermented but has no acidic smell. I hate to describe it but it is slightly similar to dried cow dung.

I never like its unroasted flavor either. It taste like chocolate but the fruitiness is missing. The acidity, nuttiness, almond, cashew nut and barbecue that I’ve tasted from the previous deliveries. I love discovering new flavors. This one disappointed me. It is simply flat with disagreeable odor.

FYI, good beans, like I described, taste good already in its unroasted state. I assumed that was true to all until I got a not so good batch. The taste improved after roasting and even got better after refining. Chocolates made out of it got sold rapidly to the point of me wanting more of the specific beans.

First test processing.

Roasting. The typical brownie smell during roast is not evident. I could hardly smell it. If my only roasting indicator is odor, then I am sure to fail. No significant improvement in bean taste either. My last option is the previous time and temperature records. I applied what is common to all and just accepted the result.

Winnowing. I noticed, more shells were sticking to nibs. More hand picking is needed. Longer time turning the nibs again and again and more eye pain. Pan roasted beans usually has this characteristics due to uneven heat distribution.

Finished product. My partner liked it, but I don’t. The decision is continue with the rest of the batch but never buy similar beans again. Some of our patrons might have taste buds similar to me. That sure is loose on our side. This is such a risky decision.

I never do bean cut test, the appropriate bean sampling method. All I do is get some beans, peel and chew it. Then visually inspect the rest. If the noticeable defects are negligible then I go for it.

Maybe now is the time to implement proper sampling.

There are still few sacks left. I am trying to figure out what happened to this beans so I did a cut test and compare it to good batches. To my surprise, the appearance is far superior than good batches.

bean cut test bad good

Now we suspect the bean is washed. I mean washed after fermentation in attempt to remove to much acidity. We heard some buyers don’t want acidic beans. It is done by shortening fermentation period or washing after. Maybe what we got is not a bad batch. It could be our standard is set to specific.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

2 Replies to “A Batch of Beans In Question…”

  1. Hello Marvin,

    I am a PhD student at Massey University in NZ. My research is on solar drying cocoa beans in Fiji. I find your blogs interesting and helpful. Fermentation and drying is a challenge in Fiji, esp during the rainy seasons that coincides during the main harvest season. I noticed that if fermentation exceeds day 6 there are some kind of larvae/ maggots in the beans.
    Have you ever had a batch of dried beans with some maggots or insects in them?

    1. Yes, occasionally. The more common are their adult stage, the cocoa moth. They fly around the processing area and if have the chance, lay eggs on cocoa mass and chocolate. I had two cases of maggots found in old stock chocolates. The practice here in Philippines is 5 days fermentation to avoid too much acidity. Most station have both mechanical and solar driers to compensate for rainy seasons. It is crucial, drying delay encourages mold growth and ochratoxin formation. Hope it helps!

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