Natural process, is the oldest traditional method of drying coffee cherries; simply pick ripe cherries and put them in sun to dry. Most Brazilian and many great Ethiopian coffees are processed this way. If processed right, compared to washed coffees these have slightly heavier body and more fruity notes – think of ripe strawberries and blueberries or guava. So often you would find that due to fermentation of the fruit, as cherry dries this coffee has an overpowering winey note that may entice novices as ‘interesting’, however it absolutely masks the real flavour of coffee and you are left with a over fermented fruit in cup. In Indian coffee scenario so often left over coffee cherries those are not worth the effort of washing are dried as naturals. So it is not easy to find a good natural processed coffee.
At Ratnagiri, we harvested best lot for this batch and was in fact triple sorted – floats were removed – cherries were put in anaerobic tanks for a 12 hour controlled fermentation and thereafter were straight away put for drying on tables. When we reached the table, we found that Ashok had simply tagged it as ‘Jaipur’, but it wasn’t pink, instead it was a bed of garnets. Dried in thin layers on raised beds and regularly raked to avoid over fermentation, these coffees did hit the sweet spot. On cupping table we had a symphony of Rum, Raisin and Orange juice as Manu hummed Me & Bobby McGee.