Info Details
Country USA   
Type Nibs   
Strain Nacional   
Source Ecuador   (Esmeraldas)
Flavor Earthen   (backed in Fruit)
Style retro-American      
Nacional cacáo in Esmeraldas?

At first, it sounds about as strange & out-of-place as Polynesians in the Arctic or Inuits in the Tropics.

On second thought, cacáo & humanity have gone hand-in-hand the past 500 years in circumnavigating the globe to colonize foreign lands.

So how far is a trip upriver from southern to northern Ecuador? A lot closer, proportionally speaking, than the tip of the tongue to the belly bottom.
Appearance   4.7 / 5
Color: nothing slaty or even violet about these well-fermented chunks
Surface: clean & dry (again, good post-harvest technique)
Temper: flat
Snap: n/a
Aroma   9.5 / 10
classic... as in pre-CCN-51 & maybe even pre-1916 when disease wiped out many of Ecuador's old trees: both the cloud forest (well oxidized) & rain forest floor (mushrooms) + herbal green meadows -> add that Nib staple - banana
Mouthfeel   12.4 / 15
Texture: firm & sound crunch yet yielding on the tooth
Melt: n/a
Flavor   41.2 / 50
red banana (including leaf) -> aerates considerably, hi-altitude ions before plunging back down beneath forest cover into those mushrooms (woods ear) -> a little leguminous (green) / substantial bittering (especially a soiled element but nicely mineralized / fertilized) -> returns to banana leaf with latent cocoa shadowing it -> walnut shells in the marsh
Quality   17 / 20
Well-treated... a necessity for unroasted Nibs which could otherwise, if poorly handled in the post-harvesting, rip the mouth apart.

Nova mandates a thorough & correct post-harvest thru Eco-Cacao, a cooperative of properties started by friends of the label with an assist from APROCA & UONCRE. Together they turn the pH & the various acids thru the ferment cycle so only manageable acetic residues remain (lasting 4 days which exceeds the norm for Nacional types, counterindicated in fact to suspect a possible other genotype in the mix). Ditto for the drying of these kernels, discerned readily in the Texture, right in that 5%- 7% moisture content slot.

Some inherent chemical compounds may strike the pal (for palate) rather harshly, yet these very same constituents -- especially the nitrogen group -- form the pre-cursors which, during Maillard Reactions in the roaster, should transform them into winsome flavor.

ING: cocoa nibs

Reviewed January 4, 2012


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