NATURAL PROCESS- what is this?

In a world of endless possibilities we can make a small change and completly change the course of events. This is especially true for coffee. We can change one small detail and the flavour will be completly different. Varietal and location are very important, but what makes a big difference is the process of drying the bean. Time and type of process will affect the final flavour of coffee immensely. Did you know that natural process is the oldest of all process techniques?

Picking coffee

It’s well known that every coffee varietal has its own properties. From colour and size, to time of ripening. But all of them have one thing in common; they pick coffee cherries at the peak of ripening. Harvesting process takes a lot of time and manual work. It’s mostly done in higher altitude, at steep slopes, where coffee grows.

Picking coffee cherries
Hand picking ripe coffee cherries

African beds

Picked cherries are taken to farm or mill immediately, where they make first selection and take out any cherries with defects. After that they are evenly distributed on drying mat. In the past that used to be floor or bamboo mats. Today they usually do it on so called raised african beds. That way they prevent mold formation and bad drying, so we get much better flavour of coffee bean at the end.

hand picking coffee
First selction of coffee cherries. They take out all unripe and defected cherries.

 

raised african bed
Preparing raised african beds for drying of coffee. They are raised from the ground which allows more airiness and less possibility for defects.

Natural process in the past and today

In the past naturally processed coffee was ranked lower because their flavour could be spoiled quickly or be labeled as a defect. It could happen that at the end of the process, coffee would taste like dirt, on which coffee was drying. In last few years naturally processed coffee is getting better reputation, some label it as more complex and sweet than washed process coffee. More control at drying process, brings better results.

drying coffee on grounds
Drying coffee on ground on a simple mat

Today natural process is much more controlled. Coffee cherries are turned periodically every day, which prevents formation of mold or any other defects. With turning the cherries, they also enable even drying. Coffee bean is able to absorb sweetness from the cherry, that enrich the flavour. The result is coffee with bigger body and sweetness, that is very hard to achieve with washed process.

hand picking coffee cherries
A lot of hands is needed for turning the cherries every day.

 

Natural fermentation

Natural process is the most environmental friendly of all the processes. They use very little water, which can not be said for other processes. Developing new fermentation techniques increased water consumption, but not at natural process. What is special with this process is that the fermentation begins at the same moment as cherry is fully ripe. Because of this, this fermentation style is also one of more uncertain. If not controlled properly, fruit can overly ferment and totally spoil the taste.

coffee borer
Example of invasion of coffee borer. Tiny hole creates perfect environment for development of mold.

When cherry is at peak of ripeness, yeast fungi and bacteria penetrate into it and begin to metabolize sugars and acids within the coffee cherry. In nature the result of this process would end in total decay of coffee cherry, but they stop it at 11% of humidity level. After that they depulp coffee beans from coffee cherry and take of the parchment, they check it again for any defects and prepare it for traveling to a roastery.

 

Flavours of naturally processed coffee

Results of this process is a very complex taste, that differs a lot by varietal and location of growing. We can taste full body, slightly syrupy feeling in mouth. Flavours vary from citric acidity all the way to sweet berry like and jammy notes. In some we can find notes of tropical fruit, bergamot, black tea and cocoa nibs. Some coffee connoisseurs say that natural coffee is a good starting point for Specialty coffee drinkers. When you taste, you can detect very strong flavours, even if your taste is not refined yet.

We recommend you to explore world of coffee and set your own standards for what is good tasting coffee and which is your favourite. We are sure that you’ll find your favourite variety, the one that makes your day better.

Naturally processed coffee from our roastery:

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