Washed and Natural
With the Ethiopia Ardi Washed and Ethiopia Ardi Natural in our lineup at the same time, we have a unique opportunity to experience how different processing methods affect the same coffee.
“Processing” refers to the way the fruit and the seed are separated after harvest and can make a dramatic impact on the taste. This is why the process has become an important part of how coffee is described and sold.
However, most producers don't choose the process with tasting notes in mind. Most often a producer will choose the process based on what will cause the least amount of defects and will not drop the quality of the beans.
The Natural Process
The natural process is also known as the dry process. After harvest, the coffee cherries are spread out in a thin layer to dry in the sun. Some producers spread the beans on a brick patio while others will use raised beds to allow air flow around the coffee. During the drying process, the coffee has to be rotated regularly. This will keep the beans from molding, rotting, or fermenting. After the beans are properly dried, the husk of skin and fruit is removed with a machine and the coffee is stored for export.
The natural process can add a variety of flavors to the coffee, most often flavors that resemble fresh or dried fruit. Because of this, there is a high demand for the tasty flavors a carefully processed natural can bring out.
THE WASHED PROCESS
The entire goal of the washed process is to remove all of the sticky flesh, or fruit mucilage, before the coffee is dried. This process greatly reduces the likelihood of anything happening while the coffee is drying, such as molding. But the washed process is much more expensive than any other process because of how much water is involved.
After harvest, the coffee is run through a de-pulper to remove the outer skin and most of the fruit flesh just like other processes. Once most of the fruity flesh is removed the coffee is placed in a clean tank or trough of water to ferment. This fermentation breaks down the remaining sticky flesh enough that it easily washes away. After the coffee is washed, it is placed on brick beds or raised drying tables to dry in the sun.
Compared to other processes, the washed process produces coffees with an increased acidity, higher complexity, and what is often described as a clean flavor profile. "Cleanliness" is an important term when describing coffee because it indicates the absence of negative flavors.
Now that you know the difference between these two processes, you’ll be able to better discern and appreciate the differences between Ardi Natural and Ardi Washed when you brew them at home or enjoy a cup in our shops!