..or is it just a passing trend? At 32cup we always have endless discussions when there’s a natural processed coffee on the table, especially when we have cupping visitors. Jean for instance has been struggling with this question ever since people pointed him to the existence of this type of processing in specialty coffee. He finds it difficult to cup through the heavy, overfermented fruit taste and appreciate the strong sweetness. Of the some hundred naturals we have cupped in the last year, only four made sense and could convince him of their potential. I’ll typically take on an easier stance, in broad lines accepting a natural when its sweetness isn’t overpowering, when it remains stable and fresh cooling down and when it doesn’t taste like every other natural around. A lot depends on the preparation, of course. Cupping a natural isn’t the same as having a natural on espresso. In the natural process’ defence, the best espresso I’ve ever had was a natural…
So we could say we believe in naturals, but only under certain conditions. The more naturals we cup, the better we get to understand this kind of coffee and filter out the good ones. To say they’re the future, however, that’s another issue. One advantage natural processed coffee does have is its lower ecological impact compared to fully washed coffee due to the absence of waste water. However, as far as ecologically friendly methods go, we’d more likely place our bets on processing systems like Penagos, which, according to reports, uses just 227 liters of water per ton of cherries, versus 20,599 liters per ton with a traditional pulping machine.
We are big supporters though of honey processed coffees, which mostly are very complex coffees with a more elegant sweetness than the full natural. Despite the fantastic coffees that come from it, the honey process still isn’t widely accepted by traditional coffee bodies. In a lot of countries for example, it even isn’t a recognized export quality.
With the 32cup cupping panel now consisting of proponents of the natural process and very critical cuppers who are coming round on the taste profile, you’ll see more naturals appearing on our offerlist. And of course some honeys whenever we can lay hands on them!