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A PAIR OF PIURAS
Malingas
Porcelana

by Original Beans
Info Details
Country Netherlands   (via Switzerland)
Type Semi-Dark   (75%; Batch P01347 0717)
Strain Nacional   
Source Peru   (Piura)
Flavor Naked   
Style Classic      
lo
med
hi
CQ
Sweetness
Acidity
Bitterness
Roast
Intensity
Complexity
Structure
Length
Impact
REDUX REVIEW REDUX: The good people at Original Beans sent samples of the last few years' harvest for comparison value of Piura Porcelana ('Porcelana' used (in)advisedly). Same origin / same trees, 3 different harvests / 3 separate bars. It all illustrates the random destiny of cacáo's motley patchwork stitching together vintage, post-harvest, roasting & refining that evade standardization.

Additionally, OB also sent a a bar sourced from a neighboring grove, calling it Malingas.

And finally, in response to this bar’s review originally published on March 5, 2012, conservationist Philipp Kauffmann, Founder & CEO of Original Beans, contacted the C-spot™ & took exception to some of the remarks contained herein. What follows at the bottom of this page is an exchange between us, posted with his approval, which touches on a few of the nettlesome issues confronting chocolate &, dare say, humanity. The most recent addendum, in 2017, is at the very end.


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Original Beans' motto -- The Planet, Re-plant It -- strains the ears & the intellect. Seems to make good sense until... thinking about it. Just as this Chinese proverb sounds good too: If your vision is for a year, plant grains. If your vision is for ten years, plant trees. If your vision is for a lifetime, plant people.

Plant people? What is this? Espionage? What ever happened to procreation?

The intentions are in the right place but the human species currently consumes 1.5 Earths -- more than the planet is capable of producing even if tending to all the arable land in the world at the highest efficiencies possible. With a couple more billion mouths to feed by mid-century, the race for resources shall only intensify. Clearly we'll have to invent our way at of this predicament beyond re-planting one planet.

Meanwhile, this bar operates on its own beams in perfect reflection of the first sentence in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus ("The world is all that is the case"). Got it?

Or seen another Wittgensteinian way: objects form the substance of the world. Follow?

He, Wittgenstein, that great puzzler & twister of Western philosophy; metaphysical mentor to David Foster Wallace, & therefore to Norm Bombardini, the stinking rich fathead in The Broom of the System who spoofs Wittegenstein’s realism / solipsism paradox -- summed up in the line "I am my world" -- by eating until he grows to size infinite, making himself co-extensive with the world in a scheme called "Project Total Yang."

Any questions?
Appearance   4.7 / 5
Color: dark for a white-seeded faux-"Porcelana"; some magenta
Surface: well-pressed; nary a scratch or scuff
Temper: premiere quality
Snap: a wafer
Aroma   8.4 / 10
Malingas
2017
dry cocoa dust -> jungle peanut -> brown fruit stew
sun-dried tomato & olive leaf to approximate a pizza joint
turns on a molasses drop + blackwood to exhale good chocolate head

Porcelana

2012
simple stuff of chocolate (simple as diamonds): incipient vanilla (none added; really?) buffing chocolate-brown saddle-leather that swaddles a peanut -> puffs out mild tobacco

2013
malted fruit with some piercing green leaf

2014
more grounded in the vein of 2012 punctuated with a molasses malt

2017
ditto capped by a huge brownie plume
Mouthfeel   13.2 / 15
Texture: lap of luxury...
Melt: ... the slow lap
Flavor   42.9 / 50
Malingas
2017
stone cold cocoa -> sour malt -> guava intensifies to passionfruit... holds this interminably... chocolate char in the deep recesses

Porcelana

2012
cocoa-cream -> just the lightest whitest fruit (cherimoya) -> soft nut (almost mac softness) -> toffee to conform with the Aroma (that vanilla suspect rears its head again) -> nut oil (of some strength, like filberts) -> back treacle -> pecan custard

2013
honey-cream -> soft cocoa-woods -> leafy greens -> grape seed extract (bitter-citrus) -> tobacco-oak

2014
cocoa-cream -> nuts -> nearly alkalized cocoa tannins followed by this choc's sweet spot: cherimoya -> minute char, bitters at the edges

2017
cocoa-nuts / nut-nuts / infra-subliminal sweet-spot (naranjilla) barely comes fore, languishing in the backdrop, until the midpoint whence it asserts itself like lime over the progression & over scorch marks that replace it in the rear
Quality   16.1 / 20
Malingas
2017
Really lets the fruit hang out & express itself.
Whereas prior Piuras -- such as Rogue's -- exuded equal acidity, that expelled tart reds (raspberry) while this strikes far more clarified (lighter / whiter).
Quite 2-dimensional & ultimately brass, even brash.
The high acids juxtaposed opposite the late char ashes suggests either a dual roast or quite the finishing ramp on it.

Porcelana

2012
Liner notes list "kumquat, lime, apricots, raspberry flavors & notes of toasted pecans" to suggest a very active & dynamic cacáo. A fantastical construct, for taken as a whole nothing could be farther from Piura.

Maybe raspberry leaf or kumquat homeopathy but please... nowhere near the raspberry sunburst seen in Rogue's Piura.

The most "Porcelana" likeness however of the all the Piuras to date. A very generous butter cut quantified by a Barithmetic (Cocoa mass / Butter / Sugar ratio) of 6:9:5 accounts for much of it. Quite princely & reclined (unlike Zotter's 80% take on Piura). And true-to-character as well as form for the Swiss house of Felchlin (the actual manufacturer); such rerefinement for a regional cacáo which even locals in Peru admit often tastes like a rice paddy (reflected in the Bonnat Piura).

Though fairly unexciting, another Felchlin trait... something about those sluggish conches there -- no one will be jumping out of their skin -- but fine all the way around if just shy of sublime.

Oh, though, oh-so-close to a day & a world in a bar, such that whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

Reviewed March 5, 2012

2013
A more assertive / less refined / mannered Piura, even aggressive at moments toward the close.

2014
Sort of a truncated reversion to type of the 2012 harvest.

2017
A regression of type. Not too dissimilar from the Malingas (above). Indeed they share stablemate status. This iteration melts closer to that than to its very own predecessors!

Reviewed June 5, 2017

ING: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter

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1. Note from Philipp Kauffman, Founder / CEO, Original Beans™ to Mark Christian of the C-spot™:

Very many thanks, Mark.

On your slightly nonchalant comments with regard to replanting, this merits a much deeper discussion & review. I've been working on these issues across the world for 15 years &, for all I see, if we want to keep our society intact for the next 100 years, then 4 principles of natural capitalism should be guiding: 1) Radical Resource Efficiency; 2) Bio-mimicry; 3) Service & Flow Business Models & 4) Reinvestment in Bio-capacity.

Applying this to cacao/chocolate correlates to something like: 1) increased productivity per hectare, no new land, short logistic chain, renewable energy; 2) analogue cacao forests; 3) buy chocolate to plant/rent trees; cradle2cradle packaging; & 4) replant & protect forest. That's more or less Original Beans' roadmap (the foil used to wrap this Piura bar is made from wood to cite just one application).

Below is graph from McKinsey that shows what is cheap/efficient when you look at climate change mitigation. I’ve marked in red what is most relevant to the cacao industry (reducing slash ‘n burn agriculture). Turns out this is at the same time most relevant for GHG abatement (Green House Gas).

Perhaps we could have a kind of discussion of these aspects on C-Spot some time?



2. Mark Christian replying to Philipp Kauffmann:

Hi Philipp,

Thank you for your considerable reply.

While we at the C-spot™ hold dear to a general principle of 'no sacred cows', sometimes an irreverent chord is struck at the expense of more meaningful discourse.

You're correct in that this is a complex matter requiring in-depth analysis & discussion.

I'm quite sensitive to the aims of the broader environmental movement &, like you, I've spent some time & effort investigating these issues. I'd like to think that as a person residing in NYC who bikes or skates around town, & buys organic at farmer's markets, etc... yes, I'd like to think that my footprint is small or at least smaller than would be otherwise. And yet, I'm possibly just deceiving myself; certainly the piles of trash I put out every other evening for the building porter to haul away might lead many to think I'm doing a good job of fooling myself.

In my judgment, efficiencies alone will not get us there. As my cousin, an enviro-science Ph.D. living & working in Wyoming puts it: humans are breeders & consumers who create waste as a natural by-product. Plain & simple. Just do the math in terms of a planet currently housing 7 billion people & set to go to 9 billion in 30 to 40 years from now (a conservative projection in my estimation).

Moreover, we kid ourselves -- as Mars™ currently does with promotional campaigns championed most vocally by Howard-Yana Shapiro of its new super-seeds that promise to quadruple or even produce a 6-fold increase in yield -- about reducing aggregate loads.

Even in this micro-niche of premium chocolate, the LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) numbers aren't pretty, primarily because transforming cacáo into cocoa into chocolate, be it on a small or large scale, is a global enterprise often involving hundreds of people over thousands of miles. The total impact from it takes quite a heavy toll. On the upside, due to its near universal appeal, chocolate can be a great teaching tool about these concerns.

Chocolate is well-positioned to connect with consumers about sustainability, considering the very tangible appeal of it. With growing worldwide population, plus countries who traditionally never ate chocolate until recently -- like one sixth of the entire planet living in China -- demand for it will increase which in turn will increase pressure on supply chains.

This also ties into broader food security issues.

Whether cocoa or oil, what the last half century has proved is that intensification & extensification of exploited resources are rarely an 'either-or' / one-or-the-other trade-off but go hand-in-hand (Ivory Coast the classic cocoa example; off-shore drilling & land mining for energy all around the Caribbean basin, including in the USA where at least a modicum of a regulatory system exists). So while we make progress in attaining greater efficiency, we lose ground in the overall scheme because the imperatives of the growth economy for a burgeoning population demand more & more.

the C-spot™ covers these topics tangentially in piecemeal. For example, in the Africa section (click on the 'Read More' link under the photo of the continent, if interested), or during a review (such as in the Quality section toward the bottom of Grenada 100%), or our manifesto of sorts called Bar-to-Bean™, and the ancient practices of the original Amazonians, to cite but just a few examples. The last represents a meeting point between you & I since I wholeheartedly agree with your generalized bio-modeling approach.

It's certainly our goal to do more. The site will soon (I hope) be undergoing a make-over on a few key pages, the result of which will be to open it up & provide a forum to invite just these kinds of exchanges. I'd like to welcome you back at that time to further engage in this so together we can address these issues & possibly seek solutions &, who knows?, even resolutions to them.

Respectfully,
Mark


3. Phillipp Kauffmann’s follow-on:

Prisoners of hope, are we?

Well, my hope for the chocolate industry is that it transforms from vicious to virtuous.

And I also hope that this year Original Beans can show an LCA that is eco-positive. According to an independent study on our Congo project, deforestation rates were halved (in the areas with old-growth forest impact). If we can just protect 1 hectare from going up in flames, you can afford to live for 10 years without turning off the lights at night. Opportunity cost is about US$500/year. That's affordable, even on the low cost of a premium chocolate bar.

Looking forward to your continued, witty C-Spotting & further discussions,

Best, Philipp


4. Mark Christian back to Philipp Kauffmann:

OK; I can buy into that, though I'd like to study the numbers some.

1 hectare = 10 years of electric? Where? As the Pentagon likes to say, 'where the lights aren't'? (RE: the unlit portion of the planet as seen from a satellite photo at night in the underdeveloped nations of the global south that form an arc of instability on the ground & pose, in the Pentagon’s view, emerging threats.)

I ask this earnestly & only somewhat facetiously.


5. Philipp Kauffmann by the Numbers:

Here are some additional data points with which I'm working:

Your annual carbon footprint is about 15 tons CO2 (Carbon Dioxide – a naturally occurring chemical compound which, at standard temperature & pressure, exists as a gas in the Earth’s atmosphere).

-- 1 hectare of old growth forest holds about 400 tons of CO2 (in addition to thousands of species, if you count soil, tens of tons of water, critical carbon sink capacity, etc.).

-- Let's assume, on average, a small cacao grower burns about a hectare every 4 years to plant subsistence food crops & a bit of rice to earn some cash in the local market. That’s 100 tons of CO2 every year.

What happens if he manages sustainable cacao on the plot, say in an undergrowth system, & assume 40 years productive, & then he moves on? Cacao doubles his income. So with a few hectares, he’s out of poverty (& this doesn’t even count any forest / climate payments).

First, carbon emissions are reduced by at least 1/3 per hectare because this leaves the big trees standing. That’s approximately 140 tons. And this saves some 10 additional hectares over the course of 40 years. That's 4,000 tons.

For 4,140 tons over 40 years, you + 6 friend in NYC can live without turning of the lights. That is why it makes sense to "replant the planet".

If we'd take the case of reforested cacao in a well-managed agro-forest system, assume the numbers at about 1/5. So you & your spouse can live without turning off the light. To put it bluntly in order to make the point.

The point being what Whitehead has called misplaced concreteness. If we don't understand that rainforests are THE critical eco-asset on the planet, we can switch as many light bulbs as we want. Cacao is one of the few supply chains that connects us consumers directly to that rainforest frontier.

And the logistics of a chocolate bar? Many consumers fret about this. But it is usually quite different than they expect. A chocolate bar consumes from start (seeds there) to finish (consumer here) about 200 grams of CO2 (if no rainforest has been slashed to plant it). That's about one road mile in an average family sedan!

The logistics do NOT account for the largest climate impact of chocolate. They make 20%. The biggest issue is whether or not the cacao farmer uses pesticides & fertilizers (fossil fuel inputs). And whether in manufacturing we save energy, use renewable energy, & do away with aluminum. These are reasons why Original Beans produces organic (no fossil fuel inputs on farm), use 90% renewable energy, & 25% energy savings in manufacturing, and a wood-foil (that’s also bio-compostable).

Along the way, a person in Ecuador or Congo earns $1000 per year (instead of $500) from working a hectare, receives a subsidy to replant the forest, & becomes part of a value chain that hopefully returns some respect to him or her as the case may be. And a consumer enjoys the taste of luxury in the way our Earth meant it to be: consumption equals replenishment.

All best,
Philipp


6. Mark Christian’s rejoinder:

Several points on the above numbers:

A. Some assumptions may be unrealized. Cocoa commodity markets fluctuate notoriously (they’re now down about a third from last year’s high). And what is engaged here is a commodity market of its own, viz., for carbon credits. As such these numbers have particular valence for those NGOs, PPPs, foundations, charities, philanthropies & govt agencies who literally buy into these appeals with their donations. Sometimes at the risk of the charity, as William Hutton says, hastening to proclaim its good deeds, ceases to be charity, & is only pride & ostentation.

Similar-sounding programs have received inordinate funding from the DEA, USDA & other organizations in the so-called “War on Drugs” which exploits Theobroma cacáo (the tree whose seeds are the key ingredient in chocolate) as a substitute crop for Erythroxylum coca (whose leaves are the basis for a paste that becomes cocaine). This hopes to convert campesinos to harvest cocoa instead of coca.

But the opportunity costs are such that we have to ask ‘who are the DEA & USDA kidding’?

Growers can make more money from the cocaine cartel than from the chocolate companies, & are prone to do so even when factoring in the risks involved. They’re by no means stupid: they straddle & play both sides of the fence. They sign on to take the cocoa program subsidies.

Has cocaine cultivation been reduced let alone eliminated? Just the opposite: in the aggregate coca continues to be harvested alongside cocoa & has grown in step with it despite an oft-underground status.

In some cases, cocoa becomes a mere supplement, a bonus for participating in the scheme.

Likewise, 'fair-trade', 'organic' & other certifying regimes are gamed by locals on the ground to the same degree that the system devises it.


B. CO2 sequestration sounds fantastic in principle. Does the math add up?

In the narrow purview of chocolate, yes, it apparently does based on the internal calculations of the data presented. Unfortunately that represents only a small slice, some would say but a sliver, of the whole picture / the whole planet.

Pre-supposing that 100% of all arable & agricultural land on Earth were to follow the guidelines in the example set by Original Beans – an extremely remote possibility – that amounts to roughly 6 billion hectares, or less than one hectare per human. Factor in all sorts of innovative techniques to maximize output (from Inca-style terracing, to the ingenious anthropogenic terra preta do indio [Portuguese for “dark-earth”] fertilizers, modern genetic seedlings & irrigation) & humanity could get to a truly sustainable future that you envision for chocolate. What about for all other foodstuffs though? (Unless scripture is correct that ‘man does not live by bread alone’… but by chocolate & maybe a few crumbs.)

Either way, this would require addressing key underlying structural issues, such as consumption patterns in the Global North coupled to an integrated agro-forestry initiative in the emerging economies of the Producer South. The latter dramatically alters the scale of production -- an undesirable development from the point of view of industrial MNC food giants. This in all likelihood would result in a probable contraction both in production & consumption. Holistically speaking, chocolate could arguably stand to benefit from such a contraction on a multitude of levels (replenishing the germplasm, the soil, the tree stock, the overall quality…). Convincing candy companies of that is a battle of epic proportions since they’re practicing & planning in a far more aggressive direction (see Point 'C' below).

The reality is that static calculations fail to account for dynamic changes & behavioral psychology. Much of the pressure stems beyond sheer population growth to per capita increases in the consumption of meat, biofuels, timber & evermore resources. Rising living standards & the itch to attain status symbols means that agricultural production will have to double by 2050 even if the population does not.

So can a relatively fixed constant (land undergoing its own stress of climate change, urban development, deforestation, etc.) of maximized output provide for the changing variables of a growth strategy inherent to the consumption economy for an expanding population base? Or does it become the dog-chasing-its-tail argument?

C. To address these dynamics with respect to chocolate, Howard Yana-Shapiro & Harold Schmitz of Mars Inc. wrote a recent article published in Scientific American. They promise high-yielding seeds & bio-tech advances that will allow substantial acreage to be taken out of cultivation. Some of their claims are spurious. As mentioned earlier, extensification goes hand-in-hand with intensification, as has happened with every known commodity.

For example, with the recession, higher prices at the pump, & increased MPG efficiencies, gasoline consumption decreased in America from a couple years ago but overall energy usage (oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, et.al.) is up. Furthermore, with fracking & a less regulated environment, domestic oil drilling is surging… offshore & on land… & with Obama’s blessing, who campaigned on a platform to replace fossil fuels with renewables.

Shapiro & Schmitz are too steeped in the industry not to understand that sustainability is thus re-defined to meet the economic goals of the candy companies to sustain current & future revenue projections to meet increased consumer demand with consequent greater market share in the global economy. Remember, Asia has yet to come on line in any significant way in terms of chocolate consumption. The candy giants are setting up operations there & surely eye it as the prime area of growth.

D. In order for the Original Bean model to thrive, consumers would have to buy-in. They’ve yet to pay premium prices at the appreciable level this envisions.

I once sat on a panel & an audience member berated me as “elitist” for advocating $5 chocolate bars, complaining that only the 1% can afford it, leaving the 99% OWS crowd out in the cold. This person professed to be pro-FairTrade, pro-organic agriculture, pro-labor rights, & all the other appropriate ‘pros’ who nonetheless, bottom line, wants inexpensive chocolate.

My response: $5 or so is the price for ethical capitalism & eco-management in which growers make a livable wage. The trade-off is paying for a healthy product / healthy planet instead of having lots of cheap candy fodder.

Hearing me recommend that consumption patterns may have to change; that that higher priced bar should be of such a quality that its enjoyment should last for a couple days & possibly accompany you the better part of a week; that what’s good for you & good for the planet costs money… well, that smacked of an insult to someone telling me that hunger & poverty are rampant everywhere & $5 chocolate is unconscionable.

Perhaps; though this particular individual was neither emaciated nor hungry but quite plump with, from the looks of it, plenty of meals under the belt. In addition, paying $100+ per month for mobile phone service, another $99 for internet access at home & 200+ for iTunes purchases was altogether reasonable but $5 for a premium bar of chocolate was out of the question. And, to top it off, this was coming at me from a university professor. Go figure.

Which means there’s an uphill battle to wage in terms of education (educating the educators to start with) as well as updating the perception of what constitutes good chocolate &, moreover, how it ramifies a raft of other critical issues. For as I like to say, if we fail to cure the ills plaguing chocolate – a godsend almost universally liked & even loved by many, & of relatively small economies of scale compared to the auto, housing, & financial sectors – what hope do we possibly have for whatever else ails us?

In closing, I salute your positive contributions & admirable work. Too few do as you to actually get something done.

7. Addendum 2017

World Bank, USAID, World Cocoa Foundation et.al. are rushing to reverse data advanced by Climate Change activists. These organizations plan on reforesting tracts, mainly in chocolate's 'breadbasket' of West Africa -- reforestation being more impactful than the 'Slash 'n Burn' agricultural conversion highlighted by Philipp Kauffman in the first graph (above). Cocoa plantations developed on cleared land represent prime culprits in forest degradation / destruction. Whether various global agencies can align their missions to achieve a desired outcome remains to be seen. The contemplated reforesting (re: cacáo trees intermixed under some canopy trees for shade, aka 'agroforestry lite') serves a poor pale analogue to old-growth forests let alone primary forests. Moreover, how the industry will obtain enough yield / productivity, no matter the intensification tools, in such a proposed agricultural architecture doubles the mystery.

One bit remains clear: according to the candy giants own metrics, under current conditions, every ounce of milk chocolate emits 1 gram of CO2. For dark chocolate, the figure doubles. Neither take into account the LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) that involves additional emissions thru transportation, manufacturing, packaging, retail operations & on & on...
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