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Coffee Processing: Natural/Dry

Cherraldine Dayrit

Notice the "natural process", "dry process", or "sundried" marked on coffee bags we buy.

Do you want to know more about the natural/dry/sundried process? Let's start!

 

Where did it start?

The natural process, also known as the dry process, is said that stems from Ethiopia. It is common in regions where there is no access to water such as Ethiopia and some regions in Brazil. The process is commonly traditional in the regions where it is used. The fruit remains on the bean, and dries undisturbed. This process needs less investment but it still requires certain climatic conditions to ensure the drying of the fruit and seed in time.

Some considered this process a lower-quality method that can lead to inconsistent flavours. However, there are many who believe this process actually has the potential to create the most flavourful coffees. Producers should achieve consistency, then many can agree that natural coffees can match washed coffees, and also provide some more interesting notes and characteristics as well. This usually takes place in Brazil, and other coffee growing places.

 

The process

Natural process, dry process, unwashed, or natural sundried all refer to the same method of processing that usually involves drying coffee cherries either patios or raised beds in the sun. It is also considered the most old school way to process coffee. After picking the coffee cherries from the coffee trees, they are spread out in thin layers to dry in the sun. The drying stations can be a little different depending on the farm or region; some use brick patios, others special raised beds (tables) which enable air to flow around the cherries, thus more even drying. To prevent the cherries from spoiling, they are raked into a single layer on cement patios and turned throughout the day and then covered at night or during rain storms. This process, which can take 3-6 weeks normally, is the more-traditional method of processing coffee. This process of drying the cherries out in the sun originated in places without reliable access to water and usually works best in areas with low humidity and infrequent rain — such as parts of Ethiopia and Yemen — although we do have some farmers using the natural process in other places.

After the cherries have been dried to the ideal moisture level, they are sent to mills to separate the seeds from the rest of the dried fruit, otherwise known as being "hulled". The skin and dried fruit flesh are removed mechanically and the green coffee is stored and "rested" before exporting it. This extended contact between seed and fruit results in a much fruitier coffee.

 

What is the result in flavor?

Because the seeds of natural sundried processed coffee are encased in the cherry for longer, the resulting flavors from this process are generally more fruity and fuller body. The natural sugars in and around the bean are infused into it during this process and result in a higher sugar, more fruit and fermented flavors content than washed coffees.

Nicely picked and processed natural coffee can bring out incredible cupping notes, and offer consumers amazing sweet flavours. Some naturals end up tasting more like a tropical fruit salad or fruit compote than coffee.

Natural processed coffees definitely divide baristas' opinions in terms of flavor. The natural process definitely adds flavors to the coffee such as fruitiness and sweetness regardless of variety and region. Common flavor notes for natural processed coffee are blueberry, strawberry, tropical fruits and honey but on the other side, there can also be wild, fermented flavors and alcohol-like notes. Natural coffees are often described to have red wine like flavors when compared to washed coffees. The natural processed coffees can be really useful for roasteries and baristas to showcase what coffee can taste like and open consumers minds but on the other hand they can also be not really good for people who don't like fermented and wild flavors in the cup.

Here's our Natural coffee in store:

Checkout these natural processed coffee. Enjoy!



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