How to Brew Naturally Processed Coffees Best with our director of Coffee, Dustin Ryan Yu
Natural processed coffees are interesting because it is how coffees were traditionally processed. What most people drink and are familiar with though, is washed processed coffees due to it being a faster method of processing coffee to prepare for exportation and trading.
After coffee became a traded commodity, it became less popular to produce naturally processed coffees. In recent years, specialty coffee has shifted its spotlight to highlight well-processed naturals, as consumers have become more aware and interested in the origins and history of what we consume.
ROASTING NATURAL PROCESS COFFEES
Natural processed coffees tend to be a little harder to roast well, due to the more present sugars (from longer fermentation of the sugars inherent in and around the seed), especially on the outside of the green coffee bean before it has been roasted. Due to minute details in the roasting process, naturals can occasionally be more developed, or roasted “more”, compared to its washed counterpart. As coffee gets lighter in weight as it is roasted darker (due to moisture loss), coffees can sometimes end up less dense or more brittle. You may notice when you grind natural process coffees versus washed coffee, naturals can sometimes sound or feel more brittle, meaning more fine coffee particles are generated.
Coffee preferences depend on personal taste, and enjoyment of natural process coffees is sometimes polarized. You may hear some people say they only drink naturally processed coffees, or only drink washed coffees. The process is sometimes not too important, as I personally prefer clean and sweet coffee with acidity that balances the cup overall. Natural process coffees can sometimes have more sweetness, reduced acidity, and also fermentation-forward notes (think blueberries, prunes, raspberry/blackberry jam, and caramel). They can also have a good amount of acidity, and some people don't enjoy high acidity in coffee.
Here are some techniques to accentuate the acidity in the coffee. If you prefer lower acidity, you are welcome to make adjustments in the opposite direction.
1. Reduce extraction
• Grind slightly coarser than usual: this allows for a faster brew time, which reduces the extraction. Some may prefer a stronger body and sweetness; in this case, you would grind finer. I find that when I grind natural process coffees slightly coarser, it results in a slightly lighter, more delicate body, with more pronounced acidity. I sometimes also pour more gently to reduce agitation and extraction.
• Lower your brewing temperature: less heat means a reduced extraction rate. If you usually brew at 96C/205F, try 92C/198F.
• Adjust pouring technique: I find that when I pour water in and water is sitting in the slurry for a longer time, the coffee ends up tasting slightly sweeter and with lower acidity, compared to when the water runs through faster. You can adjust your pouring technique to your liking, though I find that the other factors and variables affect the acidity and the final cup more.
2. Use a cone-shaped pour-over method
• Cone drippers tend to produce a more acidic cup with more complexity and a dynamic range of flavours, in my opinion. This method is a little less forgiving, as brewing consistently is quite difficult. You may notice that acidity changes as coffee rests as well, usually becoming more mellow and rounded out as light roasts reach 2 weeks or 1 month off-roast, and darker roasts at about 1 week post-roast.
• If you prefer a rounder, more uniform cup, try using a flat-bottomed dripper like the Kalita Wave, or a wedge-shaped dripper such as the Kalita 102.
Brew Guide for Naturally Processed Coffees
I put together this pour-over recipe to help accentuate the brighter notes in natural coffees. This recipe gives me a great starting point to dial in coffee to how I like it.
WHAT YOU NEED
• Origami Dripper
• V60 filter
• 20g of coffee ground medium to medium coarse (33 clicks on a Comandante coffee grinder)
• 310 grams of water (temperature: start at 205F if you have soft water (200F if hard) and move up or down depending on preference. If it tastes roasty, try lowering the temperature a little).
HOW TO MAKE IT
1. Pour a 60 gram bloom and wait until the 30 second mark.
2. Pour 165 grams gently to get up to 225 grams.
3. Wait until the slurry has almost completely drained, and then pour the remaining 65 grams in the same rate, reaching a 1:16.5 ratio (this ratio will provide more clarity and complexity in the coffee.)
4. Swirl once the pour is complete to flatten the bed
5. Brew should finish around 2 minutes 15