In a previous blog I mentioned grinding my own cacao beans to make a brewed cacao drink. Since then, it has become an item I enjoy with breakfast a couple of times a week. While some enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning, I look forward to the mornings that I have a cup of brewed cacao to start my day.
As a result of the COVID-19 related “stay at home” order, our shopping habits shifted to making more online purchases. But how does one buy cacao beans online when you can’t see or smell them? I don’t have a great answer, as I was relegated to trusting the product description listed on the Amazon page.
I looked up cacao beans and found a 2.2 lbs bag from Yupik. Unfortunately, the description was sorely lacking. It was more advertising hype about the health benefits of cacao rather than where the beans are from, the specific varietal, or what flavors to expect. However, there was one bit of information that was most appealing to me; the beans were not roasted. I was really excited to see this for after trying chocolate from the French chocolate maker Rrraw, I found a new appreciation for the distinct flavor profile of unroasted cacao.
Secondly, after thoroughly inspecting the pictures of the bag, I found a label on the back indicating that the beans were a product of Peru, the world’s ninth largest cacao producer according to Confectionary News. Organic Crops states:
The best chocolate in the world is made from Peruvian cacao.
With a claim like that, the beans can't be all that bad, right?
Since there was no useful information describing the taste of the beans, it was left to me to make that determination. I thought it would be fun and educational to compare/contrast these Yupik beans to the Ecuadorian Arriba Nacional cacao beans we obtained from Creo Chocolate in Portland.
In a previous blog I summarized some tips given by Dylan Butterbaugh (chocolate maker from Manoa Chocolate) in an episode of Craft Chocolate TV that focused on analyzing cacao beans. He mentioned that it is a good sign if the beans are easy to peel because that is an indication that it got hot during the fermentation. As for the Yupik beans, it was a toss up. I went through a random sample of about 20 beans and some of them were easier to peel than others. Fortunately, after tasting a few beans I wasn’t left terribly disappointed. They had a very mild nutty yet acidic flavor. The Creo beans, on the other hand, were very easy to peel and tasted just as smelled - they had a mellow roasty flavor much more akin to what you would expect chocolate to taste like.
I went through the same process for brewing the beans as I mentioned in a previous blog that I got from an article on the Foodandnutrition.org website. I found the Yupik brewed cacao to have a fruity acidic taste with a sharp astringent finish. It was like a wine with a lot of tannins. And, just as expected, the Creo brewed cacao had a balanced warm and nutty flavor that remained smooth and consistent from start to finish with no intense flavor peeks.
You may be wondering which of the two was better. I guess that depends on what you’re looking for as they are drastically different in character. If you enjoy drinks with strong astringent taste that cause your mouth to pucker, you will likely prefer the Yupik beans. If you want something that is more supple and smooth that doesn’t ruffle your tastebuds, the Creo beans are right up your alley. I enjoyed both sets of beans as my flavor interests are dependent on my mood and by what I may be eating or drinking.
This was a really fun and enjoyable experiment! If you get a chance, you may want to do a brewed cacao sampling of your own. This experience really fueled my desire to test out the flavor of other beans. If you have recommendations on beans to try, please connect with me! I am eager to learn and experiment more!
If you haven't checked out my interview with Creo Chocolate's cofounder, Janet Straub, click here to enjoy our time together.
Creo * 122 NE Broadway Street * Portland, OR 97232-1108 United States https://creochocolate.com/
Yupik cacao beans can be purchased through Amazon.com