Tumbes Cooperative

by French Broad
Info Details
Country USA   
Type Dark   (70%; Batch 121227M)
Strain Amazon   
Source Peru   (Tumbes)
Flavor Twang   
Style Neo-Modern      
Chocolate that originates from Tumbes, Peru -- a coastal tropical forest contained within the Tumbes Nat’l Reserve... that little curled hook in the NW corner of the country sandwiched between El Oro, Ecuador to the north & Piura, Peru to its south. Since both of those locales contain Nacional cacáo, it'd be natural that Tumbes does too.

The cacaoteros / Bromans / growers here form a co-op under the larger umbrella organization Cepicafe.

Some cocoa consultants laud Cepicafe as a success. In a micro-sense it is: over the span of a few seasons its output has tripled. The same consultants once carried MBA-style briefs & blueprints to Chuao, advocating that it scrap its current tree stock for high-yielding “Forastero” to increase revenues so the villagers then could give up their more traditional leisurely ways to chase “efficiency”. Thankfully the women of the Chuao co-op ignored such high-priced educated advice.

In the macro, Cepicafe & others could fall prey to their own success & play right into the hands of the voracious Candy Giants (the handful or so major commodity buyers who dominate the market in a monopsony).

For all the talk of helping poor starving farmers, productivity gains can be counterproductive. Yes, yields may be way up which, short-term, flushes the pockets of growers with more cash. Perhaps very short-term, for just in the past year & a half, world commodity prices dropped by over a third of their historical highs. It sinks perilously close to hitting the price floor -- $2,100 -- that would trigger price supports for those so certified, below which Fair-Trade guarantees to make up the difference -- a first in the history of Fair-Trade cocoa.

Which all equates to yet another boom-bust cycle in the cacáo groves where earnings now accrue from more work (greater output requires more manpower in this labor-intensive industry).

This perpetuates growth models based on scale / volume that tax the environment, produce a glut of beans, put downward pressure on price, & generate additional hours of back-breaking toil. Then analysts wonder why "fine-chocolate" is so cheap while paradoxically pleading for more expensive bars.

By definition, premium chocolate is supposed to be exceptional, if not rare. In opening the floodgates, the very people such plans are designed to help may end up drowning them.
Appearance   4.6 / 5
Color: on the violet side of the brown divide
Surface: tablet scored 10x2; each a monogrammed tile weighing 3 grams
Temper: semi-gloss
Snap: slightly muffled
Aroma   8.4 / 10
genuine old-time kind of choc at a constant / comfortable pitch
biscuit scones -> leather' 'n tobacco -> soft wood chips
topped with a spice cloud
Mouthfeel   12.5 / 15
Texture: not quite gum but elastic all the same; slight grain
Melt: on the quick
Flavor   44.7 / 50
black mocha lip -> sugar heralds a raisin seed, the germ to a huge fruit blast... raspberry yields to bright granadilla citrus, dry Vermouth under-siding -> wood's ear mushroom adroitly balances acidity -> round belly of almondine -> charred lavender in the back scape
Quality   17.6 / 20
Large seeds, a real handful, that scooped up an award at the 2012 Paris Salon.

The Tumbis Cooperative cultivates a predominately indigenous genotype as opposed to its countrymen down in San Martin who grow a mix led by CCN imports.

That front fruit explosion rivals Rogue's initial Puira from nearby, except that shows more focused -- to be expected since Rogue tapped a single-estate while French Broad sources from a co-op that pulls from several properties with some variance in their harvests. (Of recent, Rogue's Piura has flattened.)

Precious little core chocolate flavor.The acidity here shoots a diffuse spray until that mushroom cap grounds it again.

French Broad calibrates & sets the dials just about right. In another sign that it really knows the cocoa, the liner notes read quite convincingly... instructive in fact.

Which means sites like this & chocolate critics generally will soon be superfluous, even obsolete.

Bet the chocosphere can't wait.

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar

Reviewed April 9, 2013


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