After spending several months working on some Vietnamese beans and testing them with different roasting profiles and recipes, we felt that the quality of the beans could be improved. Hence, I asked the farm if they could make the beans more aromatic. The answer was YES! When the new beans arrived, we immediately used it to produce a batch of 72% Dark chocolates. We did a blind taste test and loved it! The cacao beans reduced in acidity through higher roasting & longer conching hours, resulting in a slight wine-like acidicity with a fruity & nutty end notes. The next thing I knew, I was on a plane to Vietnam to visit the cacao farm!
The cacao beans were from a farm owned by a company named Le Vu, in Vung Tau located in southern Vietnam. It was a two and a half hours drive from Ho Chi Minh city and Mr Tran Van Thanh, owner of the farm welcomed us with open arms. Mr Thanh started cacao farming 15 years ago. With an estimated 24 hectares of cacao farming land and another 15 hectares with new young cacao trees (3year old), the estimated capacity has reached 13 tons per month. His farm produces Trinitario cacao beans. Around the farm, we could see pepper, rubber and avocado plantations,cashew nut trees and Avocado plantations.
Vung Tau, together with Dak Lak and Tien Giang were the first three provinces of the country selected to participate in the program of UTZ standards, earliest certification. With the UTZ-certified product, cocoa producers have to demonstrate good agricultural practice, efficient farm management and responsible cocoa production. Mr Thanh does not use pesticides nor fertiliser in his farms. Cacao beans are harvested from December to April during the dry season. He currently supplies his cacao beans to South Korea, Japan and locally in Vietnam (including Marou). It is my pleasure to be the first chocolate factory to import his beans to Malaysia. He also produces some cocoa butter, cocoa mass & roasted nibs on his farm. During our meeting, he even offered us cacao wine made from his cacao beans. I have never heard of cacao wine till then but the taste of it was absolutely divine. The cacao wine was sweet and chocolaty.
I brought him a 72% dark chocolate which I made using his new and improved beans. He tasted and claims that it even tasted better than Marou’s 😜😜. Anyone wants to try?