Processing Deep Dive: Pulped Natural
Pulped natural processing is somewhere between washed and naturally processed coffees. It’s a unique method that imparts specific flavours and textures. Let’s dive briefly into these methods to get a sense of what pulped natural is a hybrid of.
Washed processing involves all the mucilage being removed from the seed and then washed before drying, whereas natural processing is when cherry is left whole during both fermentation and drying. Many factors impact the final profile of a coffee, but in general, a washed coffee results in a clean and crisp cup; its fruit notes are often compared to fresh fruit. Whereas naturally processed coffees are funkier, and their fruit notes are considered more jammy or stewed fruit, and wine-like.
The idea with pulped natural processing was to create a method that used less water than washed processing, but still resulted in high scoring coffee. It was developed in Brazil by Pinhalense, a coffee equipment manufacturer. The process can only be practiced in low-humidity environments as the mucilage needs to dry quickly on the bean to avoid over-fermentation.
Pulped natural processing is beloved for imparting the body of naturally processed coffees with the fresh fruit acidity of a washed coffee.
Here is the process:
Step 1: Cherries are placed in a water tank, and the floatation method is used to sort the unripe cherries from the ripe cherries. Ripe cherries sink, and the unripe cherries that float to the top are then removed.
Step 2: The cherries are then mechanically de-pulped, and calibrated to the size of the cherries and seeds. This removes all of the skin from the cherry and most, but not all, of the flesh.
Step 3: The pulped seed rests to dry quickly to promote sweetness and avoid over-fermentation.
Step 4: The seed is hulled once it reaches the desired moisture level, often set at 10-12% moisture.
“With Pulped Fiction, you get the body that you would with a natural coffee, but you also get the sweetness. It has characteristics of both processes. It’s a special way of processing,” Tony Argiropoulos, the Coowner of Ambros Coffee Co., explained.