Natural Processed Coffee - What’s the Buzz?
De la Gente is always on the lookout for innovative products to diversify income and value streams for coffee producers here in Guatemala. Our favorite innovations though are those led by the cooperative members. This year marked the debut of our natural-processed green coffee offering from San Miguel Escobar, Antigua, which we sold to 6 of our roasting partners in the United States and Canada.
Like most products, whether you are baking chocolate chip cookies or making wine, slight changes in the process can produce drastically different outcomes. Coffee is no different, and even the slightest change to any stage in the process can affect the flavor and quality in the cup. Unlike standard washed coffee (the most common process in coffee production), which requires the coffee beans to be removed from the fruit shortly after harvesting, farmers producing natural-processed coffee dry the coffee with the fruit still intact. This method of drying normally takes over a week on patios, ensuring the fruit has hardened around the bean completely. Afterward, the whole fruit is run through the dehusker, husks and all, a number of times to yield the green bean inside, which is used for roasting.
The results of natural-processed coffee are exciting, and even the most novice coffee drinker can taste the difference when compared next to a traditional process. While washed coffees from Antigua are already fruity and floral, the drying of the fruit in this method take these flavors to new levels offering notes of blueberry, passion fruit, and plum in some instances. Aside from the DLG roasting partners that were lucky enough to reserve the few sacks that the San Miguel Escobar Cooperative exported this year before the shipment even arrived in the U.S., this coffee has been a popular hit with our team here in the DLG office as well. We are lucky that the farmers didn’t sell all they have so that we can savor this extra special, very bright and fruity coffee while working at our computers or at home in the morning, starting our day off on the right foot!
More good news!
In addition to exciting and unique flavors, it has also become popular for it's environmental impact. Natural-processed coffee requires far less water than standard washed coffee which typically needs three rinses with clean water before it's ready for drying. In water scarce growing regions, such as the eastern parts of Guatemala, this method has proven to be a great alternative for coffee farmers.
We are excited to have incorporated this new offering into our export this year and will be looking to increase our volume for next year, as well as experimenting with other types of processing that can attract premium prices for farmers and provide different options to our roasting partners and online clients! Stay tuned next year for more exciting special offerings from DLG.