What is Natural Coffee?
Hey Barkeater, all coffee is natural coffee, isn't it?
If you mean, does coffee grow naturally from coffee trees, of course! But the term “natural coffee” doesn't have anything to do with the way coffee beans are grown. Natural coffee refers to the drying process of the harvested coffee cherries.
This natural coffee or dry method of processing coffee cherries, is an ancient but simple one. The unique processing dates back thousands of years to its home in Ethiopia. Farmers hand pick coffee cherries and lay them out to dry in the sun without removing the skin of the fruit. The sun turns the dried coffee into hard, dark pods. Because of the length of time the dried fruit is in contact with the seed, it contributes to the characteristics of the coffee bean. The nutrients from the cherry skin and the sugars infuse themselves into the bean. The result is a rustic and full body flavor that has made natural coffee a true favorite in today's market. Another benefit of the natural process is the setup costs can be kept low for the growers. Since no machinery is necessary, there is no investment in expensive equipment.
So why isn't everyone using the dry method? Well, there are a few criticisms from the industry about the process. First, since it is such a hands on process, there is a higher percentage of defective and blemished beans that end up at the roaster. Second, the natural process is labor intensive and difficult to do properly. Buyers are cautious about recommending producers who advertise natural coffees.
Yet, improvements in bean quality and consistency among producers are quieting the critics. These improvements have made this artisan method all the rage these days. Discerning palettes have had a taste of natural coffee and are wanting more. In fact, some producers are finding it difficult to keep up with demand. So, are natural coffees just a fad, or are they here to stay? We hope they are here to stay. Quality and consistency are the key. If producers can continue to make these improvements, natural coffees have a bright future.
We Have Natural Coffee!
Ready to try a natural coffee? We are fortunate through our supplier to have access to the Monte Verde micro lot in Costa Rica where they use the natural process. The Monte Verde farm is in the northern mountains of Costa Rica and neighbors the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. The reserve is famous for its natural eco systems. The Monte Verde farm is co-owned by families who have a rich history in coffee harvesting and processing.
We are excited to have two natural coffees in our portfolio. One fine example is Costa Rica Tarrazu Montevede Varsan Estate Natural. One of the great things about this natural processed coffee from Costa Rica is that it’s great with any brewing method you choose. The sweet, fruity notes make this a Barkeater favorite! So, if you're curious about trying a natural coffee for the first time, our Costa Rica is the perfect introduction. Ready to order?