Varietal Experiment: Year Two (Part 4 - Drying Method)

    While the sight of any coffee filling the patio is beautiful, the natural, colorful cherries filling patios is really something unique to behold; especially in the case of this varietal experiment, where the contrast of yellow and red, in the two bourbon varietals, nearly glow from the tiles. 

    Immediately following the washing process of a cherry, they must be spread out on the patios to dry. In the case of the natural method, this is especially important because the cherries naturally begin to ferment.

    The drying process in most of Central America, is performed on patios. For this experiment, all the drying will take place here, using only sunlight and air to dry these cherries to an internal moisture content of 11.5%; while they begin the process near 100%, having been fully submerged in water and internal juices of a cherry. 

    Natural coffees are spread, thinly onto the patios, and left for nearly two days before they are raked. This is performed, to give the cherries time to dried and absorb enough heat, so that they do not break, or split upon being agitated by movement and footsteps. Remaining within the cherry is exclusively what makes a natural coffee a different processing method, so maintaining this form for the greatest quantity of cherries is important.     

    What makes a natural coffee unique, and yet risky, is he act of leaving the bean within the cherry. During the time on the patios, all of the juices and sugar from the cherry, is absorbed into the bean, which creates bright and fruity notes in a coffee. This process also creates the risk of fermentation, as the presence of sugars within the cherries, is naturally broken down, creating alcohol. This process is avoided while drying, however, creates the need for close monitoring of the coffees, so that they do not remain too long in the sun. 

    Over the course of that first day and a half, the cherries will transform form their bright colorful red or yellow, to a shriveled maroon and black, and remain this color until hulled, where they are stripped of their cherry, leaving only the green internal bean.