We have come to the last installment in the Cheers To Beans blog series. (If you’ve missed the previous blogs, you can get caught up by clicking here to read Part 1 - Trinidad and Part 2 - Vietnam & Tanzania.) It has been an intriguing journey to taste the characteristics of the terrior that the beans are from and the particular attributes that are brought out by how the farmers handle the beans. These factors merge together to produce flavor profiles that are distinct and pleasing to the palate.
Let’s travel to India (Anamalai Estate), a country that is at the center of South Asia, to taste beans with the following flavor profile: Guava, peanut, caramel. Although various roasting temperatures and durations were tried, each batch yielded festive lemon citrus flavors. No complaints on this end, as they were still appetizing and fun to pair.
First I went with a classic lemon pairing that included cherry. This brought forth sharp zesty notes, a must for those looking for a little zippiness. Another classic lemon pairing is almond. However, instead of simply going with almond, I opted to pair it with an unconventional Almondina biscotti. This provided a more rounded and balanced flavor and allowed me to taste a hint of coffee notes. Similarly, the dates softened the strong citrus notes and added a bit of sweetness to the flavor profile.
If you are looking to tone things down even more, consider Basque cheese. It’s smooth earthy and nutty character provides an opportunity to taste some sweetness in the beans and a bit of earthy coffee flavor.
You can do a lot to experience a flavor profile of your liking with these beans. Consider a future pairing that includes different stone fruits like plum, peach, and even exotic fruits like mango or lychee. For drink options you may want to play around with some Amaretto or brandy.
The last country on this trip is Peru (Ucayali River Cacao) with beans described as: Mocha, cedar, tangy. While this profile is accurate, I didn’t find the mocha to be as pronounced as the tangy cedar notes. However, in my pairing experimentation I found ways to amp up the mocha notes should one prefer that. This was simply accomplished by pairing it with cashew, as its buttery and soft character brought the mocha to the forefront. The sweetness of a ripe banana seemed to do this as well.
Since mint is both sweet and tangy, I wanted to see how this would pair with the beans. Interestingly enough, I found this combination to soften the tanginess. What you’re left with is a very delicate cedar flavor.
For those who enjoy tangy flavors you’ll enjoy pairing these beans with cherry or ginger. They compliment and intensify the piquant character of these beans.
As for future pairings, think about what you would prefer to highlight. If you’re wanting more mocha flavor, try something with hazelnut or vanilla flavor. For fans of tangy foods stick with some type of stone fruit like peach or plum. Lastly, for drink pairings mocha fans will be better off pairing this bean with rum, while their counterparts may choose to consider the bittersweet flavor of Campari.
It’s taken a couple of months of experimentation, but traveling the world through tasting cacao beans and pairing them has been intriguing and yielded information that is noteworthy on a personal level. There are so many cacao beans waiting to be sampled and paired. Care to take on the challenge? If so, check out shops like Meridian Cacao Company for a variety of beans to sample and experience your own personal flavor adventure!