The 2021 Growing Season
On the tails of one of the strangest years ever—for the world and for To’ak’s cacao harvest—the 2021 growing season was relatively normal...until the final months. The latter half of the rainy season, which coincides with ripening and harvest time, was the wettest on record for us. Piedra de Plata received 612 mm (24 inches) of precipitation from March through May, compared to the average amount of 380 mm (15 inches) for those three months.
As in the wine industry, excess rain during ripening and harvest can lead to rot and other problems. To mitigate this threat, farmers harvested early and often. Ultimately, it proved to be a plentiful crop.
For this harvest, we chose a conching time of 18 hours, which is longer than in previous years. Conching is the process of mechanically churning the chocolate— usually in liquid form, at a temperature above the melting point—for hours or sometimes even days.
In general, this has the effect of aerating the chocolate and releasing volatile acids. In this edition, it corralled the acidity and coaxed it in the direction of blackberries and cranberries. This is a fruit-forward bar of chocolate, with floral honey and nutty caramel on the midpalate, punctuated with a tinge of grapefruit on the finish.
2021 Weather Chart