In my photographic education, I spent a year studying under the brilliant artist and teacher Brenton Hamilton. In Brenton's teaching students are encouraged to explore how an artist can express oneself through 'print statement'. Print statement in the case of photography refers to the selection of materials, chemical process, timing, embellishing treatments, and final presentation. All of these combine to form the vehicle that conveys the artist's core ambition - indeed, this matchmaking of process and materials with vision and message is part of any artist's process, regardless of medium. Without intentional finesse and precision, the end result is muddied - we are distracted from whatever the artist was trying to express.
This is something that I think about as I do my roasting tests. I'm looking for a particular balance of acidic brightness, dynamic flavor, and mellow chocolatey goodness. These occur at different points on the roasting spectrum - the most complex brightness may be found in the early part of a roast, while a velvety mellow intensity may take much longer to develop. The chocolate maker must choose an intersection of these elements in roasting, and this sometimes means one desired aspect of flavor is subdued in order to emphasize another. It's a huge challenge to selectively highlight the qualities that we're looking for while diminishing others. Think about this as you taste fine chocolate: can you detect a roasting statement? Is there some commonality among bars by the same maker?
okay, back to the grindstone.... literally!