It is always a bit bittersweet when we say goodbye to an old friend. Conversely, when we see a friend whom we have not seen for a long time, it makes for a joyful reunion.  Such is the case at Amano this holiday season.

Amano Jembrana Chocolate -- Made from cocoa beans from Bali.

Amano’s Jembrana Chocolate Bar

Jembrana makes a farewell this holiday season.  We are now officially out of Jembrana bars. I have a few cases of twelve stashed in my desk.  Other than my personal stash, they are now finished.  Jembrana was our most traditionally flavored chocolate.  The cocoa beans were beautiful and had a most clean “chocolate” flavor.Though not the most complex in flavor, they had some beautiful flavor notes of honey and fig. I liked to think of of the chocolate made from these beautiful cocoa beans as a “traditional chocolate — done right.”

Jembrana was a groundbreaking chocolate. It was the first single-origin chocolate made entirely from cocoa beans from Bali.  Historically, cocoa from Bali was transported across a narrow channel to Java and sold as Javanese cocoa.

Since Jembrana was released,  several other chocolates have been released made with cocoa exclusively from Bali. One humorous story along these lines was that we received an e-mail that was accidentally addressed to us. It was from an Eastern European chocolate maker asking a supplier where they might be able to purchase some “Jembrana cocoa beans.” We quickly received a second e-mail asking us to ignore the first (as if we read our e-mail in reverse).  We had a good chuckle here at Amano. Why? There is no such thing as “Jembrana” cocoa beans.  We named the bar and the chocolate. We named it not after the beans but after the regency (state) in Bali where most of the beans came from.  The cocoa was not sold to us as “Jembrana” cocoa beans.  Even so, we wish the best to this same chocolate maker if they happen to be reading this.

Why has Jembrana been discontinued?  Unfortunately, we have unable to secure additional cocoa beans with the same fermentation as the original.  Gone are the beautiful flavor notes that we found in the original beans.  This happens on occasion.  We really hope that in the future we can obtain cocoa beans of the same quality as we used to make our Jembrana chocolate.

Time for a Happy Return

We had a similar problem a few years ago with other cocoa beans. The first three bars we released were Ocumare, Madagascar, and Cuyagua.  The cocoa from Cuyagua, Venezuela was of very short supply. Our run consisted of only nine bags of cocoa–all the cocoa there was. Unfortunately, we were unable to obtain additional cocoa from Cuyagua with the same fermentation quality as before.

Amano Cuyagua Chocolate Bar -- made from beans from Cuyagua, Venezuela.

Amano’s Cuyagua Chocolate Bar

New fermentation boxes had been recently provided to the Cuyagua plantation. They also had received training to help them improve their fermentation. With the attention they were getting because of our bar and that of another manufacturer, they decided to ferment their cocoa the old-fashioned way — in piles. But the cocoa beans on the pile’s outer edge do not capture enough heat from the fermentation to ferment completely. While fermenting in piles is less work, the fermentation quality is drastically less than that in wooden fermentation boxes.

Because of the small batch size, Cuyagua was our first limited edition bar. It was an outstanding hit despite the higher price.  The flavor was incredible. It was many people’s favorite bar, and when we ran out, they were very disappointed.  We frequently received requests to bring it back, and we always promised we would — but only when we could obtain cocoa beans that met our quality standards.

Two years later, we were able to obtain additional cocoa from Cuyagua.  We have made from these beans a new chocolate that, like its predecessor, is truly great.

So the flavor of the finished chocolate is quite similar to that of the original Cuyagua. However, it is also very different. The cocoa has not been fermented the same way as before. To compensate for this, we needed to reformulate how we make the finished chocolate. Additionally, our skills are much more finely honed than when we made our first run of Cuyagua.  While different, I believe this version is as good as if not better than our first run of Cuyagua.

So we welcome back Cuyagua.  Cuyagua and its cocoa hold a real special place in my heart. I frequently think of the time I have spent with the humble farmers of Cuyagua on their plantation. They truly love their cocoa–and when the fermentation is done right, magic happens.

Be sure to get a Cuyagua Bar, you will truly love this wonderful chocolate.  You can get it here.

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