These fall coffees offer a fresh perspective.
Processing method is one fact written on coffee bags that tends to have a huge impact on how it tastes. Processing also involves a lot of infrastructure. For that reason, mills most often remain set up for the same processing methods decade after decade. And while processing experiments are risky and costly, they’re probably less risky than, for example, planting a whole new variety. So they give us hope for creating different flavors and overall higher quality as we move forward into an uncertain coffee future.
They also give us hope for fall, because this week's Fresh List is loaded with new coffees featuring experimental processing methods. Whether innovative in and of itself or somewhat unusual for the growing region, these processes are put to good use with four delicious coffees we’ve tasted recently.
Most coffees are separated from their cherry and then fermented (washed process), or dried in their cherry all the way and not fermented at all (natural process). This one’s fermented for a bit in the cherry, then completely washed. The result is a coffee that boasts a ton of sweetness with complex notes of concord grape and ginger, slowly revealing themselves the longer you drink.
Onyx Guatemala Finca Isnul Hybrid ($27.10)
Limoncillo — owned by the Mierisch Family, who constantly produce very cool coffees in Nicaragua — is located 850 to 1100 meters above sea level. That’s an elevation at which we don’t generally see lots of complex fruit flavor. The Java Nica variety and the process, whole cherries fermented in a cold, anaerobic environment (no oxygen!) left to dry like a regular natural, gives this coffee notes of pineapple, tea, and cacao. It’s a great example of how processing can potentially be used to give lower elevation coffees extra punch.
Boxcar Nicaragua Limoncillo ($19.45)
Natural process coffees from Mexico are something you might be familiar with if you’ve had a lot of specialty coffee in Mexico. But we haven’t seen a ton of them imported into the US. This delightful coffee from Augie's has really great, dense fig sweetness, and we hope to taste many more Mexican coffees like it in the future.
The honey process, in which coffee is stripped of its skin but left with some fruit before drying, is becoming more popular in Honduras. This delicious, sticky coffee is a great example of the boost in sweetness that comes with the method.