We have a lone bag of 2016 Organic Belize in. At this point, given how the supplier is handling distribution, I'm not confident we will be seeing any more available any time soon. For those unfamiliar with it, the raw beans have an odor of old school juicy fruit hard candy. While roasting there is toasted macadamia nuts, warm proofing spelt bread and a lovely savory quality with a touch of tang from fermentation. Once in chocolate form (75% for my tests) there is sweet caramel......go read about it.
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Whats New and Updates
Today is all about Direct Trade. It's been six months coming, but 3 new beans are finally here from Vietnam. And all of them are big, bold, intensely flavored beans. Just look how round the displays on all the spider charts are. They are just big everywhere. Ben Tre - The flavor is big and intense. It is tangy and the deep sharp flavor of raisins and a hefty doses of chocolate.
Lam Dong - 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.
And Tien Giang - This chocolate is high in spice, tobacco and nutty flavors.
And on the chance you missed it, go check out the other new Direct trade bean that is in.
Honduras Wampursirpi. In particular, check out the Details tab. I just updated a bunch information about Biosphere and what they are actively doing to support the farmers and communities in the region long term. I'm really stoked about all they are doing.
Both are brand new beans that I've not had in before. Lush chocolate and nutty flavors. And very clean. Check them out.
First and foremost, I want to present the NutraChef 'cocoa press' oil expeller. You can now make your own cocoa butter at home at the press of a button. I tasted the most amazing milk chocolate made with some fresh pressed Madagascar cocoa. The caramel notes were amazing and fully due to the single origin butter, as it was totally missing from the 'control' made with the natural cocoa butter we offer.
The next new product is a variation on whole milk powder. This is Heavy Cream powder. So, instead of milk chocolate, you can make Cream Chocolate. At 72% butter fat, you can add it directly to an existing dark chocolate recipe without adding any extra cocoa butter like you would with a milk chocolate.
Finally, a new origin. A lovely base note cocoa bean from Trinidad and Tobago. The taste that comes through for me is dried mission fig, date sugar and toasted pecans.
Might I suggest a Single Origin Trinidad Cream chocolate?
2 lbs Trinidad and Tobago roasted cocoa, winnowed to 24 oz.
5 oz Trinidad and Tobago home pressed cocoa butter (results from a 500 gram batch)
1 lb Heavy cream powder
1 lb sugar
This should be unlike ANY chocolate you have ever tried.
No Ask the Alchemist today. The queue is empty. Mind you, I thought I was setting a new record this week for submissions, but somehow things have become confused. All the messages were general questions to me. Do you ship here? Can you ship this out today? Do you sell tempering machines? Where can I buy a Champion? To clarify, firstname.lastname@example.org is for 'in depth' questions generally about the chocolate making process. Not like the above.
So, have I really answered everything you want to know out there?
And to give you something to look forward to, three new products should be available tomorrow.
- Whole cream powder
- A deep, chocolatey bean from Trinidad
- An electric oil press so you can make your own cocoa butter. I've been having quite a bit of fun testing it out.
Stay tuned and get those questions in.
I have a couple bags of the incredibly rare (and unique tasting) Venezuelan Porcelana beans in. Tangy lemon/lime. There is also a larger amount of rich Venezuelan Guasare in - personally my preference is for this one, with it's lush, sweet nutty notes.
Go check them out. I actually did a three way roast level evaluation for the Porcelana.
We are kicking the new year off with three new beans. First, the brand new one, and maybe my favorite of the bunch (since I just finished writing up the review, it is of course the last chocolate I ate, so of course it is my favorite).
Peru FT/Org Norandino 2015/16 - There is orange marmalade, molasses and dried pear competing for dominance.
Madagascar Sambirano Valley Organic 2016 - We ran out briefly last year. This is the newest crop. Still a powerhouse. This year instead of raspberry, it is virtually exploding with cherry and raisin.....
Uganda Org 2015 - There is an undeniable roundness to the flavor profile this year. Very base and solid chocolate. I find an inherent sweetness that contributes to the perception of a full flavor.
And lastly, I want to remind you of one we put up last month. Honduras Wampusirpi. We are down to the last bag, so get it before it is gone.
Honduras Wampusirpi 2016 Direct Trade/"organic" The first aroma I get is of soft leather, like a supple piece of deer skin. Buttery almost. With that comes along flavors of bright dried fruits. This just might be my favorite bean from last year and this lot is imperceptible in it's differences.
We are doing some admin updates to the site today and it may or may not go down from time to time.
No Ask the Alchemist this week as the queue is empty. And we are packing like crazy for getting your packages out for the holidays. As a reminder, yesterday was the last day for Ground deliveries to easily make it for Christmas. But we are accepting orders through Sunday night for Monday shipping. Dominican Republic Rizek is back in stock.
Finally, I had REALLY hoped to be able to tie something into Worldbuilders foundation and their current donation run. They are raising money for Heifer International. Really positive, concrete support. They say it best:
"We empower families to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity – but our approach is more than just giving them a handout. Heifer links communities and helps brings sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. Our animals provide partners with both food and reliable income, as agricultural products such as milk, eggs and honey can be traded or sold at market. "
I personally donated. Two goats get new homes and help a people and community. If you can help this season, please do. You will have to follow the up coming link to get the reference, but Bilbo it up!
With the amazing response (orders went up an order of magnitude) to the first ever Thanksgiving appreciate ‘Thing’ I was not able to keep up with a current Ask the Alchemist. We will see how this week goes. From the Appreciation Thing you can see we are moving some time soon. To be able to manage that (permits, holiday rush, contractors, the holidays and certification inspections) we are going to close down a little longer than usual. As always I’m going to keep the on-line stores open, but there will be no shipping for a couple weeks.
The last day we will be shipping is Monday December 21. And hopefully if you need anything by that Friday (December 25 – Christmas) you will have ordered well in advance. It would of course be in your best interest to have your last orders in Wednesday December 16. That will allow us processing and packing time to get it out by that Friday. We will do our complete best to get any order out on Monday December 21 if you have your order in by midnight the day before (Sunday the 20th). To summarize:
December 16 – recommended ‘polite’ last order date for shipping.
December 20 – Last day we will guarantee shipping before closing.
December 21 – Last day of shipping.
December 22 – January 3 – Closed for moving and holidays – no orders will ship out but the online stores will remain active.
One final item. When you are choosing your shipping method for the holidays, it is best to add in 3 WORKING days for processing, packing and general mayhem. So if your estimated transit time is 5-7 days (sorry, my software won’t tell you this, you will need to look it up on either UPS or USPS), then you would be well advised to order 10 days before you need it. i.e. December 14 for delivery by Christmas if you live across the country (we are in Oregon). That means, if it isn’t clear, if you order something Monday December 21, Next day Air (or ground or anything) it will NOT make it for Christmas. It will be held until 2016 when we re-open.
We will be closed for Thanksgiving and the following Friday. If you would like your order to go out before the holiday, please have it in by midnight Tuesday. Any orders after that will not go out until the following Tuesday.
Thank you everyone! I hope your Thanksgiving is fantastic.
Two new bean offerings.Tanzania - Direct Trade Kokoa Kamili Cooperative. There is a clean earthiness and up front chocolate aroma. There are deep base fruits, dried prune and damson plum in the nose. The chocolate has dark flavors of brown sugar, toffee, coffee and a fully balanced citrus (lemon?) acidity
The next is #2 in the Alchemist Blend Series. May I present the whimsical and dynamic:
Alchemist Blend #2 - Floor Sweeper -
Let's get this out of the way first and foremost. No beans in this blend were actually swept up off the floor. Okay? Good.
That said, this blend was totally inspired by the end of day sweepings. It scary/sad how much cocoa gets dropped while packing, even when we are very careful (it doesn't go to wasite, I use it for my own in house tests). But it got me thinking.
This is the result. And I'll tell you the secret recipe.....equal parts of everything in stock at the time. The result? Read on...
Warning – not chocolate related this week. But important as the holidays come up.
I got the error saying it is not a valid tracking number. Please give me the correct tracking number.
I ordered Friday. Why didn’t it ship until Wednesday? That’s 5 days!!!! I am so disappointed. I needed it Tuesday. I picked Next Day Air!!!!
I received nearly a dozen of these this week (and another two while writing this). Within an hour of processing the order. Is it the full moon? Do I sound annoyed? Perplexed really.
First off that actually isn't what USPS or UPS says. It says "The Postal Service could not locate the tracking information for your request. Please verify your tracking number and try again later." It is directly because I say "Please allow some time (12-24 hours) for the status of the shipment to correctly display at the above address". We say this because the number is assigned electronically. Then it needs to be packed and actually taken to a post office by a live human. You have to give it TIME!
Here is the routine around here. Usually the day before an order ships it is ‘processed’. This involves making the shipping label, printing and recording the sale. At that time, you the customer are sent a Shipping Confirmation with a tracking number. If you follow the tracking link too soon (read before 12-24 hours – and I am thinking now of changing this to 24-36) then there has not been time to both pack your order AND get it to the post office (or UPS) AND have time for them to scan it into their system. If your order contains roasted beans or nibs, there may be yet another day ‘delay’ as I tend to roast fresh as orders come in. Quite often we have enough around, but not always so it has to be roasted the day after it was “processed” and then is often not packed until the following day so it can cool and not condense in the bags.
I’m sorry, but we are not Amazon here (really, I’m NOT sorry) with a ton of people working around the clock to have your order packed and shipped within hours or even minutes of you ordering. That isn’t an excuse. Just the reality of how this small business runs. My sincere hope here that you appreciate the effort we put in and understand we are working as fast as we can to get everyone’s order out.
All this is in way of saying to plan well ahead and be realistic to ship times during the holidays. From past history I know they are going to stretch out due to just the sheer volume. But also where possible, we are happy to accommodate needs and deadlines if we can. There is a BIG catch here though. You have to make an EXTRA effort to tell us. You have to help us help you. Picking Next day Air does NOT assure it will go out the next day. Putting a note in your cart will NOT assure we can accommodate your request. You need to follow the directions in the Order Confirmation that says EMAIL US (with your order number, right? Right!). Otherwise we will in all likelihood not see your shipping method or note until it is already too late. As much as I would love to review every order as it comes in in detail and intuit your needs and deadlines, I can’t. And surprise, I’m not psychic.
That order on Friday? No note or email. 6 pm Friday BTW. Processed Monday. I spend the weekends with family. We process shipping ‘in bulk’ so were not aware it was Next Day Air. I hate this, but our system only shows “UPS”. It was 10 lbs of roasted beans that had to be roasted Tuesday. And thus shipped Wednesday. With an email, I would have found time to roast early Monday and get it out the same day. Without, it was processed as normal.
Communication please. I’m begging you. Keep the assumptions.to a minimum, communicate your special needs if you have them, and it’s all going to go much smoother for all of us, and result in less frustrations and disappoints all around.
Send in your Ask the Alchemist questions to email@example.com
We will be closed and away starting Wednesday 9/30/15 - Sunday 10/4/15 at the Northwest Chocolate Festival. Please let me know if you will be there. I'd love to meet up! If in doubt, look for the kilt and vest - I should not be hard to find.No orders will be processed during that time, nor will emails be read or answered. I travel technologically light.
In the mean time, we have two new elegant Guatemalans in. Chimelb and Lachua. Both are very restrained chocolates. In a world of super IPA's, massively hot spices, monster quadruple shot power drinks and general 'how big can we make it' there is something to be said for a nice, well balanced restraint chocolate that you can enjoy. Don't undersell 'approachable' - in this case it's a compliment.
Also, supply is very limited. Enough so that I won't be offering them Wholesale. So get them before they are gone for good.
The new crop of 2015 Belize is in. Organic and Fair trade. Full of juicy blackberry this time. At this writing, half is already gone so act fast and stock up if you want it. Although La Red is gone for now, we now have two new beans from the Dominican Republic.
Dominican Republic Rizek - Fair Trade /Organic - It's been a couple years since we last had this. Dark fruits like plum and fig, There are also hints of holiday spice particularly cardamom and cinnamon.
Dominican Republic Eden O Organic - This is a elegant bean and brand new in our offerings. There is a fruity tang of kiwi and passion fruit. Also the pretty classic light leather of the Dominican Republic. But everything here is soft and balanced.
The new crop of Organic Bolivia will be in next week, plus a great new smaller lot of Papua New Guinea.. In the mean time, don't miss out on the last of last year's crop of Organic Bolivia - we were able to get one last bag.
"Have you tried the EZ Temper and how in the world does it work? I don't understand it."
Yes, I've have one (Thank you Kerry). You can go read the Review. It outlines what I think of it, how it works and the theory behind it.
The short of it is it works and I like it. Get one if you want to make your tempering life easier. It's well named.
Send in your Ask the Alchemist questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Ecuador - Cedeno - The chocolate carries that aroma of fresh wheat and bright tangy rose. There is a solid chocolate base, a touch of earthiness and a balancing acidity and fruit.
Ecuador Cultivagro -A touch of oak wood plays well with the leather leaving a dry yet satisfying finish.
Ecuador - La Buceta - The chocolate’s aroma is tangy (a nice way to say softly acidic in a nice way) in the way of mace and cinnamon.
Ecuador - Pichincha - There is a floral malty sweetness over a solid chocolate backbone. There is virtually no astringency
Up coming beans: A savory Mexican that I have approved the evaluation sample should soon be on the way.
And if you like this kind of thing (just business as it were) you can subscribe to our newsletter where we make this same announcements when beans and new products come out. Usually about once a month. Sometimes a little more, sometimes a bit less.
I’m a bit disappointed in the appearance of the Wild Bolivia too. It didn’t match the approval sample. And they are also full of dust. This clearly is not right and I’ve been talking with the supplier and they are likewise not happy. That said, they are what they are. And they still taste fantastic (more on this in a bit).
We have taken to sieving the beans for dust and tossing the worst beans. But that is probably only 2-3%, not 30%. So you may still see something in the beans. But (knock on wood) nothing live. Just old damage.
Regardless, I don’t like it and I just don’t feel right charging a premium for these beans. I have dropped the price by 20%. This is NOT to try and unload them on you. It just like I said. I don’t feel right charging a premium for something not in really great condition. Why am I still offering them you might ask? Because I stand behind my assessment that they are still great tasting beans…..without additional sorting or picking.
But I have partly withdrawn them from the wholesale side. If you are interested in full bags from the warehouse, please contact me directly and I’ll see what is left. I’m not going to be carrying warehouse inventory on this for now.
Up on seeing them (after panicking slightly), I immediately roasted up a batch, as is, without sorting. I let the process do the sorting for me. My winnowed recovery was a little less than normal (74 vs 80%, another reason for the discount) but the nibs looked and tasted great. And the resulting chocolate, although a little different from the sample (which isn’t super uncommon) was still a really great flavored chocolate. Let me show you something. This is yet again that you should not judge a bean by its appearance.
That is some of the worst of the Wild Bolivian (not what you would see or receive) and a stunningly prepared sample. The result? No surprise since I am making a point. The Bolivia is full of great character and flavor – AS IS. The beautiful unnamed sample was one dimensional, a bit astringent and mostly a comparative disappointment.
So I say to you again, you do NOT have to pick through these. At least not to the 20-30% level. Analogy time. Say you cut up a nice loaf of bread so you can make stuffing. You take a chaste nibble off half of the cubes of bread and then make croutons and stuffing out of the result. Are you going to notice that you took off nibbles of bread? I challenge you to say yes. You will have less bread (hence again the discount) but it just isn’t going to affect the quality especially if you blow away the crumbs. This isn’t just theory. Every single one of my tests and tasting notes are based on beans as you will receive them.
Why are some chocolate makers tossing out 30%? You would have to ask them. I am not them and don’t agree with it. Visual clues are just not a good indicator of quality. I’ve seen it over and over. Go to the supermarket and check out much of the organic vs conventional. Generally speaking the conventional will look nicer (it’s often bred to be more durable). But generally speaking the organic will taste better (because it tends to be more heirloom, not just because it is organic). Moving on. That horse is dead for the time being.
As for the supplier question. That is a touchy subject. But this has been a ‘full disclosure’ Q&A so no reason to stop now. Yes, I and others got this bean from the same supplier (which I will do the courtesy of not naming). The rub here is that I have been working with this supplier to bring these beans in for me and me alone. But unfortunately they decided it would work better for them to bring in more and sell direct to whomever they wanted. Our gentleman’s agreement clearly fell apart. Many of the customers were ones had I cultivated and only knew about wild Bolvian beans because I was so captivated by them years ago and have been making a big deal of having them again. To their credit, they have stopped selling them for the time being until a handle can be gotten on the extent of the damage and condition of the remain bags. But I guess life has a way of balancing things out. I’m actually kind of relieved I do not have to deal with a bunch of less than happy people. Lemons to lemonade, what goes around comes around and all that fun such stuff.
So you could say I am somewhat disappointed on this this whole endeavor. The beans are not as nice as I’d hoped. My supplier went around me. Some of you are not super happy. I am not super happy. But it is tempered against others who have stuck with me, who agree these taste just as good as they hoped and at the end of the day these beans still make a damn fine chocolate and for that I am happy and grateful. I would not be offering them otherwise. Please trust me and give them a chance. You won’t be disappointed.
Announcing four new beans in stock. Two new Peru plus the new crop of the old favorite. Like I needed more Peru. But these are great so you need them too! And the LONG awaited Wild Bolivia.Peru FT/Org - Oro Verde 2015 This is the 'standard' Peru that we have had for years - Fruit galore. Peru FT/Org - Lamas 2015 - This is the same region as the Oro Verde but with more nut flavors
Peru FT/Org - Tumbes 2015 - Very creamy with toasted wheat aromas. This is a different 'Tumbes' than the 2013 crop. It's a different source all together, hand picked for the quality and tastes. The new(er) 2015 Tumbes will be in a couple months. I hope that makes sense.
Bolivia Wild Harvest - Org 2014/15 - These are the wild harvested, tiny flavor packed Bolivia. Sesame, toasted malt and dates. And Organic to boot. That is two dozen beans to choose from people. I hope you enjoy them.
We will see if I can get to Ask the Alchemist. Clearly I've been busy tasting and getting these beans up for you.