If you have been thinking about getting a Champion Juicer NOW is the time. Plastaket has introduced a MAP policy, so as of April 1 (no joke again - I'm going to get my mileage out of that phrase this year) the new price for the USA will go from $240 to $265. But until then I'm leaving it at the $240 price.Also, this is a reminder about the April 1 deadline for Cacao Fruits.
Viewing entries in
First off, although not terribly exciting, I need to announce Chocolate Alchemy will be closed from June 15 - June 23. I will be heading out to China on a technical consulting trip and will mostly be not available. I may or may not be able to answer e-mails, but under no circumstances can any orders ship during that window. But, if you want to stock up before then, there are two new beans in, both Retail and Wholesale, and of course, roasted and raw. "La Red" from the Dominican Republic - Raw and Roasted . It has a solid, soft chocolate flavor, with tamarind and soft (as opposed to sharp) citrus (mostly lemon), with the occasional hint of banana. The roasted nib aroma particularly has a tamarind note. There is also other 'thick' flavors like caramel, toffee and caramelized sugar.
Venezuelan Sur del Lago - Raw and Roasted. It is a complex, well-rounded cocoa that can make a luscious chocolate bursting with flavor accented by subtle hints of red berry fruit, dry cashew, toffee, caramel, a touch of pepper and most important, chocolate.
And with that note of a return of a great Venezuelan cocoa, I'll move right on into more exciting Venezuelan news. A couple years ago Chocolate Alchemy carried a few varieties of Venezuelan Cocoa that you may remember. Mantuano, Patanemo, Rio Caribe and that wonderful cedary Porcelano. Well, those came from a company that is now going by Tisano. The owner of this company is Patrick Pineda. Fantastic gentleman. He and other will be on a panel, The Myths, History and Future of Venezuelan Cacao, at the FCIA (Fine Chocolate Industry Association) 2012 Summer Event.
How and why this is relative is that Chocolate Alchemy is currently working to be the distributor of the cocoa Tisano is about to bring in. Very exciting. Patrick really says it best, so here is the latest I have direct from him:
David and Goliath? Me and Mini-Me?
Bigger is better?
The tiny powerhouse?
Frankenstein vs....damn can't think of a small monster.
Well, I really wanted a good one-liner there, but inspiration eludes me. So I'm just jump into what I want to talk about. Cocoa bean sizes. As is the definition of 'average', most cocoa beans you will find and buy are of average size. This generally means they are 90-110 beans/100 grams - industry convention and standard. What I have for you today are two great examples of the two far ends of the bell curve.
What does this mean? Well, many things…and not much. Huh? Let me explain.
Neither will be inherently better or worse first off. The small one isn’t inferior, nor is it packed with flavor because it is small. Likewise, the large one isn’t large and tasteless, but neither is it better because of it’s size. Both are simply notable.
In this case, the Guatemalan has a nice rustic flavor, kind of nutty and carries a unique bitterness, but also some great savory notes. The wild Bolivian…well, in a word, just makes me happy. It’s pretty mild, being Criollo, but has great flavors. Toffee, very soft fruits, butter and blueberries. And it melds all together seamlessly…and makes me smile. Plus it’s so damn cute.
OK, from a practical standpoint, you may find the Guatemalan’s may not feed as well in the Crankandstein, whereas the Bolivia will feed great, but both will crack just fine in the Champion. After that, you will find they both basically winnow the same. You might expect that because the Bolivian is so small, there ratio of husk to nib would be high, giving you less nib than normal…but thankfully that is not the case since it is a Criollo and one with a particularly light thin husk. Both turn out to give right around 80% nib.
Finally, I should make a note that both of these are of a limited nature. When they are gone, they may well be gone for good.
I really hope you try them, enjoy them and that they make you happy.
And as a reminder, Refurbished Behmor 1600s are now readily available.
Sadly, the Venezuelan Porcelano is gone, and although not a replacement for it (hah, I make myself laugh there), two new lots of a brand new origin are in. Colombian Santander. This is a perfect example why one should not judge a book (or bean) by it's cover (or appearance). It's not pretty, but neither is Carenero Superior, but both have a complexity that are hard to beat. Have a look, try both lots and compare for yourself.
And speaking of Carenero Superior, it and Ocumare are due in from Venezuela (yeah, our first partial container) and should be available around the turn of the year. There will be full bags of each available, so if you have an interest in quantity, contact me as I'm sure these are going to go fast.
There has recently been a lot of buzz about various brewing chocolates. Choffy and Crio Bru are the two big ones that come to mind. I've received more inquires than I can count about what makes them so special, if my roasted cocoa beans will work and how one can make their own hot chocolate drink with minimum fuss. Up until this point, I didn't have any really good answers. Now I do.
I ordered up both products (I could not get any courtesy professional samples). What I got was this
I set up a flight of 3 tests. Choffy, Crio Bru, and Roasted Peru.
Their two I dosed as roughly recommended (2 T/ 4.25 oz 'cup' for Crio Bru, 2-3T/6 oz 'cup' for Choffy - side note, WTF is it with coffee (and now cocoa) measuring 4, 5 and 6 oz 'cups' - a cup is 8 ozs, thank you, end of story) and for mine, 40 g/8 oz. I ground mine coarsely in my hand burr grinder. A whirley blade spice grinder will work. High speed burr coffee grinders may or may not (I think not, but don't have one to try) work as the cocoa butter may melt and coat the burrs. Just so we stay consistent here, 1 T = ~10 g. I brewed up 8 oz of each (in a french press - steeped for 5 minutes), and luckily, they all fall into a dosing of 4T or 40g per 8 oz CUP.
Here they are all brewed up.
Can you tell the difference - neither can I.
Could I taste the difference - well, in a matter of speaking. They are three different origins. Dominican Republic for Crio Bru, Ivory Coast for Choffy, and Peru as I already mentioned for mine. Here are my tasting notes, tasted 'blind' of course. Crio Bru was a little fruity and mildly chocolatey in the nose. It had a nice mouth feel, an ok chocolate flavor and a bit as astringency.
Choffy had more chocolate in the nose but not much else. It had a full mouth feel, a moderate chocolate flavor, but not much else going on except a little sharpness. About what I would expect from Ivory Coast - it's Forastero, so has a good chocolate backbone, but not a huge amount of subtlety.
Chocolate Alchemy's Peru matched the Choffy in chocolate aroma, and some soft fruits. The mouth feel was between the other two, but more approachable in my opinion. Nice chocolate, some plum and banana flavors and a 'round' mouth feel.
I also tried these all with a little sugar and milk, just for the sake of completeness. I can't say any were better or worse than any other. The milk definitely rounded out the rough edges that I noted in the Choffy and Crio Bru. And with sugar, they all start approaching what many people think of as a hot chocolate flavor.
On that last comment about hot chocolate flavor, I should mention brewed cocoa, regardless of source, is not an intense, thick mouth coating drink like many are accustomed to in hot chocolate or the other various processed chocolate drinks. It's more subtle and sublime than that. It is its own drink. If you compare it to hot chocolate, you may come away disappointed. If you evaluate it for it own flavor and merits, I think you will come away impressed.
So, in review,
- They all looked about the same.
- They all tasted very similar, with variation for origin
- They are all roasted, ground cocoa beans.
Choffy claims some other proprietary processing method (and they may have one) but if it looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck and it tastes like a duck....you get the point.
The only other point I will make is this:
- Crio Bru: $14.95/12 oz bag
- Choffy: $15.00/12 oz bag
- Chocolate Alchemy Roasted beans: $10-14.50/LB (update - you can now order Brewing Cocoa directly, and it will come all roasted and ground)
I'll let my very intelligent customers decide which way to go.
Finally, I will say, in I hope the next week or so (in between winnower building) I will be setting up a Brewing Chocolate category, with 8 oz bags of roasted and ground cocoa beans, with tasting notes.
In the mean time, if you would like your roasted beans ground, just leave me a note when checking out and I will be more than happy to prepare them for you. Otherwise, you can grind them yourself in a spice grinder and you will be on your way to a new luscious taste experience. Just remember:
- 4 T/8 oz boiling water
- Steep 5 minutes
- Press (assuming you are using a press pot - drip works ok too)
- Enjoy straight, with milk (or cream) and/or sugar.
A few more bags of Venezuelan Chuao have made it in. Right now I have a single 'spare' bag available for wholesale. Multiple bags (50 kg) are available. Please contact me directly if you would like pricing and more information. Also, Soy Milk Powder is back and makes a GREAT dairy free "milk" chocolate. Combine it with the Chuao and you can have a killer dairy free milk chocolate.
I just took out the following batch of 53% (ok 52.9%) dairy free milk chocolate from the Melanger. Due to the high solids content, refining time was about 48 hours.
22 oz Roasted La Red nibs (what you get from 2 lbs of whole beans)
32 oz Natural Cocoa butter
32 oz Sugar
16 oz Soy Milk Powder
Now that that is actually written up from my notes (I kept adding ingredients until I liked the consistency and flavor), I'm rather please and surprised to see all the whole numbers (in pounds) fall into place. That's looking very much like a new kit.... Fun. So far I have not had a single person realize it's not 'regular' milk chocolate. Give it a try.
A little while ago I acquired an antique roaster. It's in the process of being refinished, but in the meantime is completely functional. As a result, all cocoa beans are now available as Roasted. The odd 35 lb option is because that is the capacity of the roaster. Right now I don't have an option for roasted nibs as it's just to cumbersome and creates too many loop holes in the store, but I will do roasted nibs if you take the initiative and ask. Anything 10 lbs and under (total order) I'll do for free as a courtesy. Over that and it's $1/lb and I'll contact you after the order is in to settle up. Also, I've very please to announce there are now Customer Accounts. Chocolate Alchemy is coming into the 20th century. You can look up old orders, the current status of orders, adjust your information, etc. Please be aware though, and I know it can be confusing, there are TWO sets of customer accounts - one for Retail and one for Wholesale. I recommend making your user name and password the same if you use both stores, but be aware, there are completely un-connected.
Right now the customer accounts are in beta mode, meaning there may be glitches here and there. If you find one, please let me know about it. Likewise, if you would like to see a particular feature, let me know and I will pass it along to the developer.
Finally, I've spent the last week testing out a new model of Melanger from Spectra (formally Santha, but the Melangers are officially being offered by Spectra) - the Spectra 11. Photos and a review will follow, but briefly, I like it and give it two thumbs up. It's basically a redesign of the bowl and how it attaches to the motor. Over the last couple years there have been some shaft bearing issues - leaks basically. This new design seems to over come this issue by removing the whole bearing. A semi permanent (it unscrews) shaft now runs directly from the flywheel, through a delrin hub, and and then screws down, covering the shaft, effectively eliminating two weak spots and protects another. And they have put the lid back to riding on top of the top tension nut (the way it was years ago), so you no longer have to worry about condensation. It will be retailing for about $40 more and should be available in a couple weeks.
I am putting together part of a container of Ocumare. If you have a need of wholesale quantities, anywhere from one bag to...as much as you want, email me. I will be offering a 10% discount for pre-orders for anything over a bag.In addition, there is the option of adding in some other Venezuelan beans (Carenero for instance) that if you would like to pre-order some, those could come along for the same discount. Just email me at Alchemist at Chocolate Alchemy dot com. No spaces...you know the routine.
**Note** For the last week, the wrong review has been up for Nazario Risek - An older Carenero Superior review got put in and I discovered it morning. So, if you looked before, please have another look. It is not too unlike Carenero in many ways, but it is not the same bean.....wondering that no one mentioned it....The new cocoa bean from the Dominican Republic is in. It is from Nazario Risek and is Fair Trade and Organic. It's a bit more evenly prepped than Conacado and likewise a little less acidic and more earthy.
I am still working my way through the cocoa beans and determining how I want to offer them. In the mean time, I have a new Extra deodorized cocoa butter. Why another one? This batch was washed an extra time or two and is about as pure as you can it - it is Organic as a bonus. Have a look at them side by side.
And you may have noticed, scales have been out of stock for some time. Escali is no longer carrying them. This is the next one up. I've been using it some time, and like it quite a bit. A touch more, but much more rugged I have found. It has a larger base, good back light, nice accuracy and just generally a good tool. Check it out here.
Finally, during some R&D work on the winnower, I determined I needed a better cracker. That is now in the works. One quick outcome of that is a longer handler for the Crankandstein Cocoa mill. It really makes the most of leverage and is a blessing to use.
And keep an eye out. I have something a little fun planned and I want you to participate.
I have some interesting offerings coming up. A selection of various Ghana and Indonesian cocoa that I had the opportunity to share with you. I am still working out how I am going to offer it. Maybe as micro lots. Maybe some as blends. Stay tuned. And as far as opportunities go, the same thing happened with 3 lots of cocoa butter. Look for the standard Cocoa butter, plus two new deodorized ones. The first deodorized one is similar to what I currently have, and has a touch of color and aroma (just a little mind you). The new one is much paler and odorless. Perfect for those that want just oil added to their chocolate without ANYTHING to change the flavor. Both are organic. I've wondered for some time what the deodorization process is - it is washing with hot water. No chemicals, charcoal, solvents or the like. Just water. Nice. Look for those by Monday. The winnower continues to proceed. I found that my cracking (and lack of near perfect consistency) was inhibiting the consistency I wanted in the winnower. So I've been working on a new deluxe Cracker. Versions 1 and 2 are past and the beta cracker is being machine as we speak. Once it's here, I'll incorporate it into the winnower and move forward.
I have been offering Roasted Cocoa beans for the last couple months on a weekly basis and it has gone pretty well, and I've not fallen behind. With that in mind, I will be making all beans available as roasted in the very near future. And finally, it's been a rough year as you all know. Shipping has suffered from only being able to ship once a week. My plan is to get back to 48-72 hour turnaround.
I've added an additional variation to the Venezuelan Sampler Packs - there is now a 4 lb version, giving you a full pound of each bean to experience, and it's discounted 30% off the base price. Almost every week I get asked if milk chocolate can be made with fresh milk and I always have to answer no. We now have in Organic Whole milk powder which is how it is done. This milk powder has been spray dried which I found gave more of a full milk flavor and very little boiled milk flavor. And there are two up coming items. I am going to be dropping the price (around 30%) of all the beans at the 25 lb level. It should put them very close to wholesale bag price. Very simply, I want you experimenting, playing, enjoying etc, without as many worries about price and rationing and this is something I can do to assist in that.
Finally, I know a lot of you out there would like to make the jump (or even small hop) to production, be it just a small farmers market, or something a little more ambitious. I know there is a hurdle in both roasting and winnowing larger amounts. I am working steadily on the winnower (the current focus is a new Cocoa mill which is just now going from prototype to beta version), but until that time, and maybe after, I will be offering all origins as freshly roasted nibs in wholesale quantities. To me, freshness is a significant part of what makes homemade (or Artisan made) chocolate so special. So I won't be keeping bags of stale roasted nibs around. I will be roasting and winnowing them to order. That will mean a longer turnaround time (7-14 days) at first, but a set schedule will be available also if you desire 30 lbs (for instance) every week or month. Until I work out all the details, just send me a note (email address is in the Contact link) and I would be happy to talk it over and get something moving for you. My goal in this is to make you successful at your endeavors.
With the addition of a new origin (Costa Rica), and the return of one (Ecuador), that puts the total number of varieties available to a new high for Chocolate Alchemy. Sure, not as many as available as coffee, but not insignificant either. The Costa Rican is from the Umpala region, and has a nice soft elegance to it and is both Fair trade and Organic. The Ecuador is also Organic (but not Fair trade certified on a technicality as it doesn't come from a co-op) and has a nice balance of delicate fruit, nut and savoriness. With this many cocoa bean varieties in house, I have started the minor project of updating my cocoa bean info page. It's long overdue and this gives me the perfect opportunity. Here's a quick look at the kind of thing that will go in. "Break" or the color associated with the unroasted beans and how it relates to their varieties, i.e. Forastero, Trinitario or Criollo.
The reviews for the Rio Caribe F1 and Rio Caribe F2 are now up. In addition, I've added a special Venezuelan Sampler Pack for while these four varieties last. And lest that not be enough, two more new beans arrived late last week. A mild, slightly earthy Trinitario from Costa Rica (which is both Fair Trade and Organic from the Upala Coop) and a more earthy, and peppery Ecuador. Those reviews should be up very soon. In addition, all of the new Venezuelan is also available as full bags over in the Wholesale side. And for any of our northern Canadian friends, those full bags, and other larger production amounts will very soon be available also. I just about have all the customs and export paperwork in line. Stay tuned.
It's been a few years since I have had this particular variety in. When Venezuelan cocoa became very popular a few years, there suddenly seemed to be more cocoa from this region being sold than being produced, and some (aside from being down right back) bore a striking resemblance to mediocre Colombian cocoa - I'll let you draw your own conclusions... Suffice it to say, I am thrilled to have, not one, not two, not even three varieties of Venezuelan cocoa in, but FOUR new varieties. Ocumare, Carenero Superior, Rio Caribe F1 (think BIG plumy red Zinfandel) and Rio Caribe F2 (an 'underfermented' 'raw' bean that is surprisingly good). They are all coming in today, but I only have the pages complete for the first two - patience please - there is plenty to go around, and I want to do something a little special with the remaining two.
In the mean time, you may see me begin to refer to a term "break". This is nothing more than the color of the unroasted bean when you crack or 'break' it open. 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. Photos will soon follow....
But maybe we could consider it the calm before the storm. It's taken me a bit to get my bearing here in the new locale. Many of you have commented that I have not put much up new, or talked a lot. Well, my plan is to change that, and get things moving and shaking here again. So, before that, I have a few quick, but pertinent announcements.
1) I will be out of town this weekend (April 15-17) so 'weekend' orders will be delayed going out for an extra couple of days. And likewise, I will not be around to answer e-mails. But they will all be answered once I am back.
2) I will be changing my shipping times back 3-4 day turn around times. Thank you for all your patience. I've not liked shipping only once a week, but I did what I had to do to keep things going.
3) As sort of a gentle lead in, or transition, most of you know I lost my life partner to cancer last year. A dear friend is doing a Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society. I would officially like those of you so inclined, please donate in memory of Penelope, or of course, anyone else that was been affected by cancer. Her name is Susan Roland, and you can see here page and donate Here. It may say she has reached her financial goal - it's in error, so if you see that, please do not let that dissuade you from donating. Anything of course helps, and thank you.
4) New beans - Finally, finally, finally, I will be getting in some Venezuelan - And not just Ocumare. If all goes right, there will be a plumy red wine like Rio Caribe, a succulent Carenero Superior and possibly even two others that I am going to keep under wraps right now.
5) Winnower - it is coming along. I have the beta unit about 1/2 built and hope to test it out within the next month, AND have a new design that I want to try out - but I will keep on the first on until it is done.
6) Finally, although it isn't plastered all over the site, and honestly, may even be a little hard to tell, I am here to help you succeed. If you are thinking of going into a small cottage industry chocolate endeavor, and can't quite pull the logistics together, please ask me how I can help (specifics would be helpful). Do you want/need large amounts of roasted beans, nibs - full pallets of of beans or single bags on a regular basis? These are variations I can help with. Just ask. That's it for now
Happy chocolate making everyone.
Due to some prompting from, Santha is now making a Stainless Still hub for the Alchemist's Stone Melanger. I have 9 available. Caps will be available after the turn of the year. Also, the friuty Madagascar is back in stock. And I finally have in 100% Organic whole milk powder. Look for it over the weekend. I will put up the link then.
OK, you say that they have always been available. Well, true and not true. I have always offered them up to 5 lbs and never as wholesale. That now changes. There are Wholesale Nibs now available. Consider it a test run. Partly, do they sell, or inversely, if they do, can I keep up. Why am I offering them now? Well, I have the feeder on my prototype winnower (don't worry beta testers, i have not forgotten you - life just because .....challenging) and I it is currently doing over 2 kg/min. The best run today (out of 180 lbs of beans in two hours) was 13 lbs of beans in 4.5 mins at a recovery of 80.7%. Damn fine.
Also, please do read about the pricing. At first glance they look a bit more expensive than you might expect. Remember the work involved and that 20% husk is being removed. Read it over.
And some stock updates. Sadly, the Carenero Superior fell though. Sorry all who were as excited as I. Someone got to it before i could and took the lot. The new crop of Papua New Guinea should be in this week, and it is a kinder, gentler (for hickory smoked bacon cocoa) cocoa. A little more depth of flavor than last year. Also, the Don Homero from Ecuador is also gone. I hope those that wanted to try it, did try it. It was unique. Hopefully it comes around again. And finally, I just want to pitch the Tanzanian. I know it doesn't winnow well (even with the new winnower and feeder) but it is really worth the trouble of roasting it yourself. Check the review out. There are no signs of the webs mentioned, that I might just take that out of the review.
That's it for now.
Well, the Peru sold out the same day I said it was in short supply. I was just about to put up the same 'low stock' warning about the Papua New Guinea, but alas, it is actually all gone.I have a sample of Papua New Guinea in from the current crop that I like a lot. Look for it in a few weeks I suspect. A touch less smokey and a little more balanced and with more depth of flavor. More later on that.
We have also run out of deodorized cocoa butter. At this moment, I don't know when I will get more in. I have to find a better supplier. The one for the last batch kept playing price and money games and I don't have time or patience to play games.Oh, and some/most of the individual post links and possible the comments here are not currently working. I know about it. Just have to work out some server issues. That goes for some of the other other main header links (FAQ, Contact, etc). Have to work out where the file path is wrong on the new server. Thanks for you patience.
We are just about out of the delicate and soft Peru. No, I don't know if any more will be coming in any time soon. So, if you have not tried it and have been thinking about it, now is the time. It probably will not be around next week. The same is true with the Deodorized Cocoa butter. There are a few pounds left and I am not sure when or if more will be back. The last supplier was not true to his word and I just won't be getting more there, regardless of how nice it was. Oh, and the Natural cocoa butter is currently back ordered about a week. It is on the way, but my little Internet outage a couple weeks ago disrupted that supply train and so it's running behind. The site shows it in stock - just be aware it isn't but will be next week. Roasted Beans: This area has been empty quite a while. Look for it getting filled this week. There will be 10 lb and 25 lb amounts of most of beans we carry (no Peru of course). These are roasted in a large drum roaster, and 5 lbs may be problematical as I don't want roasted beans setting around getting stale, but nor do I want to just toss them. Proverbial rock and a hard place. What do people think of a "Roasted bean of the week" on a set schedule so you can plan ahead? If that were to work out, I could even offer 1 lb and up. I may try that. Give me input.
For the last 5 years I have tried to ship out in a fast and timely manner. Generally 2-3 days, many orders went out the next day. That record has mostly gone away with the death of Penelope, my wife. Although the Order confirmations don't reflect this (yet - but soon), right now I am packing and shipping orders once a week, on the weekends. It is simply all I can do. Hopefully you understand. Regardless, it is how it is. In a few months, it may change - or not. Only time will tell.
Finally, the Winnower. It is mostly at a standstill development wise, although it is getting good use and I am collecting lots of data as to what works and what does not. I am not advertising, except this little note for the moment, but I am willing to accept larger orders of nibs (over the 5 lb maximum) currently. Turn around time is 7-14 days (noting I am only shipping once a week) but I am here to meet your needs and if you need 10 or 20 or 30 lbs of raw (sorry, not roast yet) nibs, drop me an email and we can set up the specifics. The only catch is that for that amount I will be charging a winnowing fee. Generally $1-1.5/lb. Under 5 lbs is still free.