The Anaerobic processed Fazenda Taquaral, out of Campo das Vertentes Brazil, is the first coffee in our new series where we are highlighting new techniques used at origin to influence the flavor of the coffee.
Basic idea is to enrich the coffee (flavor and) taste by fermenting the beans or cherry in the basic phase of the processing.
Let's have a look first at the traditional ways of processing and then what's added via Anaerobic or Carbonic Maceration methods.
Until a couple of years ago we had plenty of processing options, but the three most popular ones were washed, semi-washed and natural.
Washed: the cherry is picked/harvested and at a wet mill where the skin and pulp (fleshy fruit) is teared off before the beans (with surrounding parchment and sticky mucilage) are dumped in the water for a night. After that, the remaining of the mucilage is washed off. To finish off the processing, the beans (in their protective parchment) are put in the sun for drying.
Semi-washed: here a hundred different methods are known, also under the name of "pulped natural" or "honey processing". Basic idea is that they use a compromise between washed and natural.
Natural (sometimes also called dry-processing): the coffee cherry is washed in water and then spread out on "beds" to dry as a whole, so the cherry stays fully intact. Very important to mention the difference between natural processing when executed. Natural processing can take place because of lack of water and the tradition is natural anyway, take the average Brazil or Robusta coffees as an example. Or the natural processing is executed to obtain coffees tasting bolder and sweeter, think Ethiopian naturals.
Well, where is this trend of new processings coming from and why did they even start this?
In 2014, Sasa Sestic purchased a farm in the Dipilto region of Nicaragua. Previously, when he was buying farms in Honduras and Panama, and leasing in Colombia, he always looked for the best possible location. That is; highly elevated altitudes and farms with possibilities to cultivate unique and exotic varieties of coffee. But that was not the case for El Arbol (‘the tree’ in English). Note: El Arbol was a special challenge that Sasa set for himself to see if processing alone had the ability to drastically improve a coffee’s cup score, regardless of terroir characteristics.
After winning the World Barista Championship in 2015, with partly Carbonic Macerated coffee, the word was out and people opened their eyes for this unconventional processing method.
In the summer of 2019 we had our first 'Macerated' coffee at Caffènation. This by SANDRA ISABEL GONZALEZ 72 hours macerated natural coffee was very controversial and had as many haters as lovers.
I think it was a good experiment to test such a wicked coffee in our line up for a couple of weeks, but later i took the decision to only bring these type of special processed coffees when i could taste the extra value, and only by at a reasonable price since so many of these type of beans come with an astronomic price tag.
As with the pulped natural/honey/semi-washed department it's going to be tough to see differences between the several methods and sometimes it will over lapse a bit. But for now we see ANAEROBIC as a washed coffee, but with a (take or leave) 1 day of oxygen free storage in stainless steel barrels of the coffee bean with mucilage, so micro enzymes can set to work, in between the wet mill and the drying of the bean.
While MACERATED is the natural processing, starting with a (take or leave) 1 week of oxygen free storage (mostly in steel barrels) in between the initial quick wash and the drying of the bean.
Today we have the Anaerobic Fazenda Taquaral on our espresso and filter grinders at Caffenation and available for purchase in 250 or 1000 gram bags. Come and taste this fiesta and soon as well the Macerated Natural from Peru, landing at our warehouse the first half of March.
For the future we hope to see variations on the theme so we can add a 3rd or 4th different chapter to the new Special Processing Series. To be continued....