Fermented coffee beans
Fermentation in coffee refers to the microbial reaction of yeasts and bacteria breaking down the sugars in mucilage. This process produces acids which will later add complexity and depth to a coffee. This reaction has been studied and developed in coffee-growing regions everywhere, and great care is taken to understand and master this process. Producers utilize a wide variety of methods to control or enhance fermentation in their coffees. Some processing methods are stylistic, while others are executed out of necessity due to lack of resources such as water.
Our relationships with the families who produce these coffees allow us to experiment with different levels of fermentation applied to our coffees. We can take the same coffee from the same lot and explore bean development with this processing, showcasing the complexity and malleability of the bean.
The washed, or wet, process is a common practice all over the world and is the most widely accepted method in specialty coffee today. Beans are pulped from their skin and fermented in cement tanks. Then, the beans are rinsed with running water and the remaining mucilage is dried.
This process greatly controls fermentation and allows for terroir-driven flavors. With this process you will clearly be able to taste inherent qualities of the coffee itself. Controlling and inhibiting fermentation also decreases difficulty in creating a consistent coffee from cup to cup. Expect clean, vivid and complex flavors in coffees labeled with low fermentation.
Pulped natural, semi-washed, and honey processing are all moderately fermented to highlight sweetness and body. A common practice with this level of fermentation is to allow the mucilage to coat the coffee beans after they are pulped. This mucilage will continue to ferment on the bean while the sun dries out, thus stabilizing the coffee. Coffees treated with these processes tend to be universally loved, and are helpful components to a blend lacking in sweetness. These processes typically result in creamy, sweet, and approachable cups of coffee.
We have always been fascinated with natural, or dry, processed coffees. The flavors produced from this process can be some of the most complex, intense and colorful flavors you can ever experience in coffee.
Producers pick ripened coffees and immediately spread them on patios or raised beds to be dried. This allows for fermentation to occur within each individual bean. Each cherry will have slight variances in sugar content, and therefore slight variances in fermentation will occur. To be successful, coffees must be picked at uniform ripeness to ensure that sugar content within each cherry is similar. This allows for the fermentation process to be similar from cherry to cherry. Coffees with high fermentation will have exaggerated and wild characteristics - expect fruity, wine-like and complex nuances in the cup.
We will be rotating many variances of cultivar and fermentation on our brewers and espresso machines. Please feel free to inquire about an in-depth description of our current selection – we love talking coffee!