Keeping you in the loop on all things coffee, we’re pretty obsessed right now about a fairly new coffee processing method that is starting to get a whole lot of buzz in the industry. Without going full Bill Nye the science guy on you, here’s the scoop on anaerobic processing.
Sure, you’ve heard the term ‘aerobic’ when it comes to working out at the gym – it means you’re inhaling a whole lot of oxygen to get that heart rate up. Aerobic means ‘with oxygen,’ therefore, anaerobic is the opposite – without oxygen, and that is exactly how this new method of processing craft coffee is done.
Traditionally, once the cherries are harvested, coffee is processed in three ways: washed, natural, and honey. All coffee goes through a fermentation process; usually that’s in an oxygen-rich environment. However, anaerobic fermentation turns that on its head by completely removing oxygen from the equation. Once the outer skin of the cherry is removed or pulped, the remaining mucilage and the beans are placed in airtight tanks for up to five days.
Anaerobic fermentation is long and slow, allowing distinct acids to develop, resulting in more complex and fruity flavour profiles. Once the fermenting has peaked, the beans are laid out in drying beds for two weeks or more, depending on the weather.
Although anaerobic processing is in the development phase in various regions, we do have a couple of roasters represented here at Roaster Central utilizing anaerobically processed beans; Alternate Route Colombia Santa Monica is a medium-light roast with tasting notes of red berries and cola. And on the decaf side, Prototype Coffee Roasters decaf Nicaragua Los Placeres has tasting notes of dark chocolate, orange and melon.
Let us know your thoughts if you’ve tried an anaerobically processed coffee. We’ll keep an eye out for other roasters going the anaerobic route.