The natural process, which is often referred to as the ‘dry process, is a simplistic approach to coffee processing. Contrary to the popular ‘washed’ method of coffee processing, the fruit remains on the bean and is dried undisturbed.
Due to the meteoric rise in washed coffee, the natural process has become less commonly used. Washed coffee is also seen as more consistent than natural coffee, where unripe fruit can result in inconsistent flavour profiles.
However, there are many in the coffee community that believe natural coffee has the potential to create flavourful coffees if consistency is achieved. Natural coffees are popular with enthusiasts, due to their unique characteristics and tasting notes.
Natural coffee starts with the coffee fruit being picked from the shrub and placed in direct sunlight, with the skin still intact. During this process, the coffee may be dried on raised beds or tables. The process takes several weeks to achieve the desired result and only a few climates provide the necessary conditions for this specific coffee process.
After drying in the sun, the coffee is run through de-pulping machines and washing channels to remove the fruit and clean any left over sticky residue.
Is naturally processed coffee common?
As a proportion of worldwide coffee sales, very little of it will be processed naturally. However, the process is favoured in countries which don’t have easy access to water or machinery, such as Ethiopia, Yemen and Brazil.
Is coffee processed in other ways unnatural?
No. Natural processing is just the more traditional process. Earlier on, this process of drying was the most logical way to create coffee beans with the limited resourced available.
If it’s more environmentally beneficial, why isn’t everyone using it?
Natural processing has lower equipment costs and less water is required. However, this process is extremely unpredictable due to the challenges of fermentation, mould and inconsistency.
Does naturally processed coffee taste different?
Naturally processed coffee tends to have an intense, earthy flavour. Oftentimes, they can have fruity and sweet overtones, but many enthusiasts debate over the true flavour of naturally processed coffee.
Does everybody like naturally processed coffee?
The flavours created by natural processing remain contentious. Many coffee drinkers consider the world, fruity flavours from naturally processed coffee to be intense. Elite roasters themselves used to avoid using naturally processed coffee beans, due to their inconsistent flavour profiles. However, more recently, independent roasters have begun to offer naturally processed coffees to their customers, offering a broader range of tasting experiences to open the mind.