131. Wood-Fired Drying Ovens

KUMBA, CAMEROON, 2012. The classic Cameroonian drying method, which has given the cocoa of this country a bit of a black eye over the years. The technology is actually quite adequate but as they say, the devil is in the details. If the oven is not properly maintained, the beans acquire a smoky flavor that can only be removed at great expense. Cameroonian cocoa is especially prized for its reddish color, apparently due to the volcanic soil. The color is used to counter the greyish cast of Ivoirian beans. The other problem with oven drying is the consumption of wood, and Cameroon, like other tropical nations, is trying to preserve its forests. (But if you believe that, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.)

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