Originally posted by hamatha
my preference for forestero rests on my taste. it sits very horizontally on my palette. a great breadth of varied flavors. the other 2 species, especially the criollo, sit more vertically. they tend to have a more intense, but a considerably narrower range and interest.
I wouldn’t say that the typical Criollo has a narrow flavour range as such, although it does tend to be more intense. What I would say is that the flavours are more well-defined, whereas in a Forastero they tend to be more “smeared-out” – you taste all the components simultaneously. The result, without careful manufacture, risks being jarring and incoherent. Consider what would happen if an orchestra all started playing randomly all at once. The result would be cacophanous noise. Meanwhile if the orchestra plays correctly, you hear music – the individual instruments are easily picked out and have their own part to play.
Looked at spectrally, a Forastero has a dangerous tendency to have a flavour power spectrum a lot like white noise – flat across the entire range. Criollos do have sharper peaks around particular components, but they may have many such peaks, leading to a recognisable signature. This is one reason that the Ecuador Arriba Forastero is in a different class than most of the other Forasteros – it shares that quality of recognisable signature, unlike many other Forastero varietals that often taste pretty generic.
The other thing about Forasteros is that their flavour decays rapidly – so that it can taste very “flat” in the finish. That’s fine in some ways if you add a blending chocolate like Criollo that can pick up the flavour at the end, but the problem is that most of the best Criollo characteristics tend to show up at the beginning of the flavour evolution, and if they have to compete with the “noise” of the initial Forastero flavour they tend to get lost. An exception is Chuao whose flavour is strong enough to power through even an aggressive Forastero. Carenero Superior is another – the debate here is whether it should be considered Criollo or Trinitario – with a strong inital attack.
but i also find the forestero less refined too. and i cherish its crudeness, for i have found that chocolate is one of those peculiar foods that quickly looses interest when over refined (tequila is another).
Now this is a *stylistic* choice as opposed to a conscious decision to compromise on quality. If you want a rather “primitive” effect then Ocumare would be a great chocolate for your base because it tends to have that crude, earthy flavour in its signature. Ecuador Arriba I think should also be part of your palette. You will want to stay away from the delicate Porcelana and Sur Del Lago beans which taste very refined and upscale. I would strongly recommend Theo’s Ghana which has a good touch of that crudeness you speak while remaining an excellent all-round chocolate.
However, be aware that this particular style is highly individualistic and tends not to sit well with many people – especially the chocophiles, who in general gravitate towards the refined end of the spectrum. So you might well have to consider your target market carefully.