Coffee processing is about the method used to clean and dry the coffee so that it is ready to be exported to the rest of the world. There are three main methods used to process coffee: Natural, Honey and Washed. Here we explain the one called natural.
What is natural?
Natural is known as the natural drying process. Once the coffee berries have been picked from the coffee trees, they are spread out in thin layers to dry. The drying stations can be slightly different depending on the surrounding environment: some farmers use walled terraces, others special raised beds, which give the air around the cherries space. This ensures even drying. To avoid mould, fermenting or rotting, turn the cherries regularly. When the cherries are dry, the skin and dried pulp are removed mechanically and the green coffee beans are stored before being exported to us.
The natural process is common in regions where there is no access to water, such as Ethiopia and some regions of Brazil, and has become a popular method in speciality coffee due to its high fruitiness.
Here’s how it works in a nutshell:
Once the coffee berries are picked from the tree(link), they are put straight to dry – pulp and all. This means that the pulp surrounding the coffee bean is not removed until the coffee cherry is completely dry.
Natural coffee is also called dry process, unwashed or natural sundried. It’s one of the oldest known coffee processing methods, but it’s not necessarily the simplest. In fact, the process requires a lot of attention. We take a closer look at the factors and make you more aware of coffee a la natural here.
What does natural coffee taste like?
When done right, the natural processing results in a fruity, sweet and full-bodied coffee. This is because the coffee beans are dried inside the cherry. As the coffee cherries dry in the sun, a fermentation process takes place inside the cherries, giving the coffee a fruity and fermented flavour unique to natural processing.
Because of its unique taste, natural coffee is great for people who are ready to try something different when it comes to specialty coffee.