Like wine, spirits, and many commodities, after it is harvested coffee undergoes varying degrees of process and management before it gets roasted and ends up in our hands. In a culture where cost and convenience have risen to the top of the priority pile, it is easy to overlook this crucial component of the brew we buy.
However these days, thanks to roasteries and businesses which tend to work more directly with coffee farms, value transparency, and champion the craft of production, we now have more understanding in what’s in our cup.
This month, we are excited to highlight the exciting and dynamic world of coffee processing! From fully-washed beans (common) to beans which have been left to dry on the tree (rare), we are offering a spectrum of delicious coffees which have been processed in a variety of ways, to give us the chance to see all the things this special bean can do. We hope you enjoy this delicious and unusual line-up as much as we do!
TIM WENDELBOE | WASHED PROCESS
Oslo, Norway | Founded in 2007 by Tim Wendelboe
“This coffee is grown and hand-picked by the cooperative members that are all smallholder farmers. After picking the coffee with their family members and neighbors they deliver and sell the coffee cherries to the wet mill where the good coffee cherries are separated from the inferior ones by hand sorting before the coffee gets processed. Then the cherries are de-pulped by using a 4 disc Aagard disc pulper. The parchment coffee is dry fermented for 24 to 48 hours and rinsed with clean water midway through fermentation. Then the parchment is washed and graded before it gets soaked for up to 24 hours before drying. The clean coffee is dried on African elevated drying tables, partly covered with shade nets.” – Tim Wendelboe (@timwendelboe)
“The Sumatra Lintong Mutu Batak comes from selected producers surrounding the town of Lintongnihuta in the Provinsi Sumatera Utara (Northern Sumatra Province). This specific area is located on the southern shores of Lake Toba, which is the largest volcanic lake in the world. The soil around the southern part of the lake is volcanic which leads to exceptional terrain for growing coffee. The town of Lintong Nihuta sits on a plateau that ranges from 1000 meters with a few farms to around 1300 meters.
The producers of this coffee are small farmers who have been recognized by our staff to produce exceptional raw material. These selected farmers run small two to four-hectare plantations with each hectare consists of approximately 1,000 coffee trees. The farmer grows, harvests, and de-pulps the coffee on the farm. After de-pulping he stores the coffee overnight, allowing it to ferment and washes the following day. After washing the farmer will briefly dry the coffee to remove the moisture from the exterior of the parchment and delivers the coffee to the production facility.
After the coffee is dried to 12 to 13% moisture content in the greenhouses, the coffee will be delivered to the warehouse in Medan. It is inspected and graded again upon arrival to ensure no errors were made during processing. The coffee is then warehoused for 2 months. Then it goes through the final grading, hand sorted, bagged and ready for export. This coffee scored an impressive 94 points from Coffee Review.” – Klatch Coffee (@klatchroasting)
LITTLE AMPS COFFEE ROASTERS | RED HONEY PROCESS
Harrisburg, PA | Founded 2011 by Aaron Carlson
“Las Lajas began producing honey coffees in 2008 by necessity, after an earthquake temporarily cut off their access to water. The Chacons knew of natural processing techniques used in other countries and figured it was worth a shot to try in Costa Rica to avoid losing a bulk of their farm’s harvest.
Aside from being leaders in their field, the Chacons are very environmentally minded and are one of the only certified-organic mills in their area. Their preference to honey processing also enables them to cut back on water usage while processing coffees, as they don’t have to soak the beans as long as a fully washed coffee would require.” – Little Amps Coffee Roasters (@littleampscoffee)
CHROMATIC COFFEE CO. | TREE DRIED PROCESS
San Jose, CA | Founded 2012 by Hiver von Geenhoven, Wendy Warren, and James Warren
“We have been so happy working with Ronaldo, Natalia, her Father, Jose Maria and the lovely folks of the Santa Luzia Farm. In this wild dried-on-the-tree lot, we are greeted with very fresh fruit, followed by sweet flavors of toffee-nougat, and a lovely chocolate note that rounds out really nicely with dried fruit qualities in the finish.” – Chromatic Coffee Co. (@chromaticcoffee)
BLACK & WHITE COFFEE ROASTERS | NATURAL PROCESS
Wake Forest, NC | Founded 2017 by Kyle Rampage and Lem ButlerCoffee/Origin: Burundi Mutana Lot 39
Notes: Strawberry, Tropical, Passionfruit
“The Long Miles Coffee Project started in 2013, when Ben and Kristy built their first washing station, called Bukeye, at the base of Gaharo hill and is home to 921 plantations and 104,747 trees. This station processes coffee from four “hills” in the area: Gaharo, Ninga, Munuinya and Rugoma, keeping each unique lot separated. It also washes coffee from other surrounding hills including the Mutana Hill area. We are excited to offer Lot 39 from Long Miles Coffee Project, featuring their natural process. Mutana Hill has rich sweetness of tropical fruits balanced with light acidity and silky body.” – Black & White Coffee Roasters (@blackwhiteroasters)
What’s your favorite process? Stop by the Playground all month long to brew up one of each and quiz our Fellow Brew Guides on the different processing methods!