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Cheers To Beans! Cacao Bean Pairing - Part 2

Updated: Feb 1, 2021

In my previous entry I shared how I got my start with cacao bean pairing (Click here to read Part 1 - Trinidad). I obtained five types of beans from Meridian Cacao Co. and played around with roasting temperatures and times to try to obtain the described flavor profiles. Although I wasn’t able to capture the specific description of flavors in every instance, the process of experimentation was educational and entertaining, and it always made the house smell great!

Are you ready for our next adventure? Let’s take a trip to the countries of Vietnam and Tanzania!

The second batch of beans was from Vietnam (Ben Tre Fermentary). They were described as: Dried fig, nutmeg, molasses. Regardless of the duration and temperature I roasted these beans, I got lemon, citrus flavors. Even though this seems like a far cry from the description, the brightness was invitingly lively especially on mornings when I needed an extra burst of flavor to invigorate me.

First I paired these beans with coconut. Citrus and coconut is a popular tropical combination and it proved to be a winner with this mouth puckering bean. Although pairing this bean with orange may seem redundant, oddly enough I found that it tempered the citrus notes and left a mild sweet orange taste the likes of an orange creamsicle minus the cream and excess sugar.

Since this bean is so vibrantly bright, I thought I’d live on the edge a little and combine it with ginger. It’s true that this combination caused my salivary glands to kick into high gear, but it was definitely a blast of flavor that aroused the senses. Lastly, nuts such as almonds and pistachios were a good compliment and brought out a bit of savoriness in the bean while dampening its astringency.

To capitalize on the sharpness of these beans, an idea for a future pairing should include cherry. However, if you want to temper it a bit consider trying it with maple vanilla cookies. For those who want to pair it with a drink, I would suggest Curaçao for sweet fans or Cointreau for those who prefer a drier triple sec.

Next let’s head to Tanzania (Kokoa Kamili Fermentary) for beans that were described as: Cherry, coffee, lemon. Each batch that I roasted didn’t quite capture all of these flavors. However, I did get luscious red fruit notes, followed by a kick of lemon, that ended with a hint of black pepper that coated the tongue. They were quite savory and made for a dramatic tasting experience.

Since these beans had a lot of intriguing peaks, I wondered what would happen if I paired them with something that was just as racy from a spice perspective like a Speculoos biscuit. The blend of spices, such as pepper, cloves, ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon in the biscuit complemented these savory beans very well and managed not to make the flavor ride any wilder than it already was. On the other hand, if you like strong fruit notes, pairing it with dried cherries brought out the red fruit flavor and reduced the bean's peppery kick a bit.

I realize that not everyone is enthusiastic about sharp peaks, so I considered a pairing option to help tone things down. Thus, I tried the beans with Comté cheese. The cheese’s cascade of roasted brown-butter and roasted-nut aromas softened the flavor peaks and brought forth a slightly sweet fruity finish.

Because of the assortment of flavors you get with these beans, it could take you on very different flavor rides if you allow it. Hence, I think a future pairing could include items like caramel, even Stroopwafel, and Grand Mariner as a drink pairing for its mix of cognac and bitter orange essence.

Our cacao bean tasting adventure continues, as we have got two more batches of beans to pair. So tune in next week as we take a taste trip to India and Peru!


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