Let's say that you decide to take everything into your own hands and grow your own coffee beans. You put in the effort of planting the trees, caring for them and waiting a few years, and finally you have some beautiful bright red coffee cherries. As proud as you are, now you must be wondering, how exactly do I turn these into coffee beans?
|I bet if you just squeeze hard enough you’ll get coffee, right?
(Photo by skinnydiver is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)
|Cherry Pulper (Photo by Coffee Management is licensed under CC BY 2.0)
On the other end of the spectrum is the natural process, which was the first method used. Because it’s simpler than the washed process, it has been common in areas that can't necessarily afford all of the equipment required for washed coffee. All that must be done is pick the ripe cherries and then place them out in the sun until they're dried, like fantastic caffeinated grapes. The coffee is hulled, and voila, naturally processed coffee! The sugars of the cherry and mucilage give coffees processed this way a sweet and rich fruity flavor (like our Brazillian Mogiana). Why is the process uncommon if it's cheap and makes a uniquely delicious cup? It's somewhat of a gamble. Even assuming the weather agrees, there's such a variation in the fermentation that happens naturally that it's guaranteed that there is going to be a lot of inconsistencies within the same batch of coffee, and (unfortunately) at least a little rotting. It's not exactly like playing Russian roulette, but it's a gamble that means decently consistent natural coffees command a high price on the market.