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Exploring Experimental Processing Methods

Galena Roasters is a small-batch specialty roasting company located in Galena, Illinois. Since 2018, Galena Roasters has been dedicated to bringing its beloved town exceptional coffee and an exceptional experience.

Staying up with the coffee curve is essential for both roasters and consumers. The pursuit of unique flavors and profiles has led coffee roasters to explore new experimental processing methods. These scientific methods offer an exciting avenue for discovering new tastes and pushing the boundaries of what a cup of coffee can be. There are a few experimental processes that have the ability to create unique and distinct flavors, and evolution is something we, at Galena Roasters, are always excited about. 

Natural Process

The natural  process of drying coffee has been around for a long time but has gained significant attention in recent years. This method involves putting the whole coffee cherry out on the drying beds after harvest. The fermentation occurs within the cherry as bacteria break down the cherry fruit sugars into alcohol, acids, etc.  If the care is taken and the fruit rotated regularly the result can be coffees with vibrant, fruit forward flavors and a unique sweetness. As a coffee roaster, experimenting with natural process coffees can lead to an array of distinctive profiles that excite even the most discerning palates.

Carbonic Maceration

Carbonic maceration, popular in the wine process, is now making its way into the coffee industry. This method involves fermenting coffee cherries in a sealed container that is flooded with CO2. The absence of oxygen allows the fermentation process, which doesn’t require oxygen, to occur in a biome that thrives without oxygen. In addition to the typical fruitiness, this can produce lactic flavors that can be very interesting.  Carbonic maceration offers roasters the chance to work with complex, layered flavors that set their coffee apart.  

Anaerobic Fermentation

Anaerobic fermentation can be done with either whole coffee cherries or cherries that have been pulped. In this process, coffee producers place the cherries in sealed tanks which are pressurized but have limited oxygen. Some hypothesize that the pressurization can drive the flavors produced by fermentation into the coffee bean to a greater degree.  Producers often experiment with different anaerobic fermentation times and drying methods after the anaerobic fermentation period to further modify and enhance the desired flavor profiles.  All of this can give coffee roasters additional chemistry with which to experiment in the roasting process.

Honey Processing

The honey process, which is not exactly a new experimental method but continues to evolve, involves removing the outer skin of the coffee cherries while leaving some or all of the mucilage intact during drying. This results is a coffee that strikes a balance between the clean flavor profile of washed coffee and the fruity sweetness of natural processing. Roasters can choose between the  different “honey levels,” which are dependent on the amount of fruit left on the coffee beans when put out to dry, depending on their flavor preferences.

Challenges and Rewards

Exploring experimental and scientific coffee processing methods is not without its challenges. Many of these coffees require a unique approach when roasting due to the processing methods altering the density and chemistry of the coffee beans. It often takes some time and experimentation with roast parameter to achieve the desired results, but the rewards can be extraordinary. By pushing the boundaries of coffee processing, roasters are given the opportunity to create truly exceptional and distinctive coffee flavors and profiles.

The world of coffee roasting is in constant motion, always looking for new ways to excite coffee enthusiasts. By experimenting with experimental processing methods, roasters can push the boundaries of flavor and aroma, offering their customers unique cup that defies all expectations. Remember that experimentation is the key to innovation and that the pursuit of excellence is a lifelong endeavor in the world of specialty coffee.

Happy drinking.

This blog is part of our series on Coffee Terminology. Check it out for more info!

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