When you purchase a bag of coffee (preferably fromSagebrush), you will notice three primary descriptors: the roast profile, flavor notes, and processing method. The processing method is a factor that is relatively unknown and often overlooked by coffee consumers, yet it is critical to the overall flavor profile of coffee. In a brief description, a processing method refers to the technique used to transform a ripe coffee cherry into the green coffee exported to roasters. How coffee is plucked, washed, and dried will influence the mouthfeel, aroma, and taste. There are three processing techniques coffee producers use: Natural (or dry), Honey (or pulped natural), and the widely popular, Washed (or wet) process. Today, we will further discuss the washed processing method.
Someone once said that "the best things in life never come easy." These words stand true for many things, including the coffee bean. Like wine, coffee has a variety of nuances when it comes to flavor, aroma, and body, and these characteristics are based on multiple factors. From the crop to the cup, the simplest adjustment to any of the steps in-between can create a diverse drinking experience. The primary way coffee flavor is distinguished is how it is processed after the initial harvest. One of the less well-known, but most successful ways to process coffee is called the "honey process."
Coffee processing has been a frequent topic in our blogs. I think I gravitate to talking about it because I believe it is the single most significant aspect of the 11 step process that makes your coffee taste the way it does. Especially if it is processed using any method other than washed. A washed method basically eliminates the processing method's impact and lets everything else in the coffee shine. A Funky coffee is nearly the opposite. Read on to understand what I mean.
I find it interesting how people connect to coffee. Some people just love coffees from a particular country. Some people ask me for a good coffee at a certain roast level. I've heard a lot of requests for specific varietals of beans. But seldom do I get a request for a particular processing method. However, I believe the processing method has as much if not more impact on the flavor of coffee than any of the items listed above. I'm writing this post to talk about my favorite processing method and hope to show you another factor to pay attention to when picking coffee.
Decaffeinated coffees often get a bad rap, and for a while, we were those people that saw decaf coffee as lesser than the real deal, but we have realized now, after searching long and hard for quality decaf beans, that this is far from the truth. A high-quality decaf coffee, when roasted correctly, can actually taste like regular coffee!
To start a discussion on coffee processing, I have to start with the ten steps to take coffee from seed to a cup. When I first learned there were ten steps, I thought, "Grow, roast, grind, brew. What else could there be?" As discussed on National Coffee Association's website they are as follows:
Years ago, I thought I knew decaf. I knew that it was made with chemicals that I was happier staying in the dark on the details. I knew that it was a crappy version of coffee. I agreed with David Letterman when he said, "Decaf coffee, it's just useless warm brown water."