After the long search, numerous dead ends and delays, I finally have a bag of Forastero cocoa beans from Ghana. I say a bag, but in actuality, it is two 65 lb jute sacks of chocolate alchemy waiting to happen. Without even roasting, they smell quite good. Not at all boring like green coffee beans. These are a mottled brown, and almost look as if they have already been roasted, but it is just the fermentation and drying that gives them that color.
I went ahead and measured out 4 oz and dropped them into my coffee roaster. My roaster is a fluid bed roaster and these beans are much bigger and flatter than coffee. They really did not circulate very well and I had to continuously rock the roaster to keep from scorching the beans. The temperature climbed and I started smelling chocolate. 210 degrees and climbing. The smell is just growing and becoming richer and richer. 250 F. It is almost intoxicating. 260F. Seems to be a real sweet spot for these beans. Slowing the aroma starts to back off and I killed the heat and cooled the beans at 280F. They taste a little toasty and maybe a little too roasted, but there is definite chocolate flavor there. It is not even sweetened but these are great. It is NOTHING like unsweetened bakers chocolate. This is crunchy, nutty (a little burnt) and a touch chocolatey. I think the next time I want to take it to 260 and hold it there.
A definite first step in my path of learning Chocolate Alchemy.