What is an Arduino, you might ask...well, it's a craft chocolate maker's dream toy when it comes to sensing and controlling things electronically (and mechanically). What kind of things? Just about anything you can imagine...really! An Arduino is an open-source, public domain microcontroller that is easy to program, easy to hook sensors and motors and relays and just about anything else up to. And they are really, really inexpensive – like under $10 for some versions. A couple of clicks on Amazon, some time learning to program in "C", a little more time designing and 3D printing some brackets and the like, learning to bend tubing, and voila! We now have a small (and growing) fleet of IR temperature controllers that are letting us control our conche temperatures within about 1-2 degrees F. We also built an Arduino-controlled servo that adjusts our oven temperature for us during the roast cycle (and alerts us just before it's done), and we have another project going that will let us controll our single-bean cracking and winnowing set-up better than ever. Hear the wheels turning??!!
New Origins and Evaluations
In our last letter we introduced our new 100% Guatemala Lachau Microlot bar. In this letter we're introducing our new 100% Viet Nam Lam Dong. Lam Dong is a mild origin with dried fuit and nut notes that works quite well as a 100% bar (not all origins do).
The Mexico origins that we were hoping to introduce didn't work out – both origins had high defect levels and had to be rejected. Hopefully, we'll see the quality improve next harvest and we'll try again. While the Mexico beans didn't work out, we've found a very nice Venezuelo Ocumare that we're introducing this month – these are some of the nicest quality Venezuela beans we've seen in several years. It's got a nice rich chocolate backbone, just the right amount of astringency and bitterness (a little is nice, a lot is not...), and some of the fruit notes common to a lot of South American beans. We're also introducing a wonderful Ecuador origin called Eco-Cacao and an equally special Trinidad micro-lot called Ramnath Estate. Both have gotten very high marks from our tasters. Our biggest surprise, though, was in finding not one, not two, but three orgins from India. We've never worked with beans from India before, and have been delighted by all three. We'll be releasing Anamalai in November, and Jangareddygudem and Idukki in December. We'll also be introducing our first Columbia bar in November or December, depending on when the beans arrive – this is another new origin that's been very well received by our tasters.
Just coming on the radar scope for the beginning of the new year is a new origin from Viet Nam, and happily, the return of one of our very favorite beans from Viet Nam – Ben Tre. No Tien Giang for the foreseeable future unfortunately, but we're thrilled to hear that Ben Tre will be back soon.
Just a reminder to start thinking about your holiday orders soon since lead times will start to push out as we get closer to December. Happily (VERY HAPPILY) the hundred-degree days seem to be behind us for the rest of this year, and shipping (not to mention chocolate making) is a lot easier now.
And last, our gratitude to all of you for your continued support, your feedback, your ideas and suggestions, and your generosity and kindness.
Our Warmest Regards,
David and Leslie