Coffee processes are manifold, and all the existing processes are governed by the laws of Chemistry. Manipulating one or more stages of the process can lead to completely different results. As we have seen before, these manipulations can regard, and are not limited to, the amount of oxygen present during the fermentation stage (anaerobic), the amount of mucilage or pulp left on the beans during the drying phase (ie natural/dried, honey), or its complete removal (washed).
At this point, a question arises spontaneously: What determines the choice of a particular process over another? Is it just a matter of achieving a particular flavour or notes rather than different ones?
Interestingly enough, to a certain extent processes aren’t really chosen, but are instead largely determined by environmental and climate factors. To better explain this, we will use two of our specialty coffees as an example.
As we mentioned before, our Brazil Montecristo is a “cerrado natural” coffee, a particular sub-category of the natural process which consists of leaving the cherries attached to the tree for a longer time to mature and dry. This process brings a lot of interesting attributes to the final product, the most prominent ones being a thick heavy body and extra-sweetness. However, this traditional process is only possible thanks to the particular climate of the Cerrado ecoregion of Brazil, characterised by dry and stable weather during harvest. Attempting to replicate this process in more humid regions, would result in the development of harmful microorganisms like fungus or mold. Therefore, the reason why this tradition has evolved in a certain direction is largely due to weather and climate compatibility
Another good example are our Colombia beans, which are instead washed. Washing all the mucilage off coffee allows for the intrinsic flavours of the beans itself to shine and be the protagonists of the cup. These types of coffee are characterised by more lively and clean notes with slight fresh acidity due to the absence of mucilage. However, washing coffee requires great amounts of water, so it’s not suitable for regions where this element is naturally scarce. This is not the case for the Piendamo Municipality of the Cauca Region of Colombia where water is naturally abundant, also thanks to the presence of the Rio Piendamo, hence suitable for this type of process. Trying to replicate this process in dryer regions would be counterproductive, for both economic and sustainability reasons.