Within the scope of this article, let’s explore how fermentation can affect the quality of coffee.
What is the true meaning of coffee fermentation? And is it possible to process coffee without skipping this process? This is also how we work every day to improve the quality of our coffee inputs on the farm to serve our roasted and ground coffee products through the seasons to serve our customers better. Serving coffee-loving customers are getting better day by day.
What Is The Coffee Fermentation Process?
You probably remember those early high school lessons: fermentation is a chemical reaction. The combination of yeast, bacteria, and other microorganisms makes it easier for one substance to break down into other substances. Usually, the substances that are broken down are sugars.
When this happens, they tend to give off heat. In addition, different enzymes can catalyze this event. Or, to put it more simply, fermentation is a natural change that occurs when you put sugar and water together – and coffee that is handpicked has both.
And so, as soon as the ripe coffee berries are picked (or even while they are still on the tree), the fermentation process will begin. The question is, does this fermentation improve the taste of the coffee or ruin it? Together we will find the answer.
What does fermentation have to do with coffee?
Fermentation is an integral part of the post-harvest processing of coffee. It can happen in one of two ways:
- Aerobic: This is what happens in the presence of oxygen. This type of fermentation technique is straightforward: place the recently harvested ripe coffee cherries in a barrel or container and let the microorganisms work. Monitor time and temperature to help you control and analyze it.
- Anaerobic (anaerobic): In this case, the coffee cherries are placed in the tank (before or after grinding) and covered in water, allowing different microorganisms to work.
- Anaerobic (anaerobic) fermentation in water is more homogeneous and easier to monitor, whereas aerobic is more heterogeneous and complex.
The coffee fermentation process is a chemical process in which complex molecules are broken down into simpler molecules, producing liquid and gaseous products (volatile compounds). Coffee cherries are processed by one of three methods immediately after harvest to allow spontaneous fermentation or intentional fermentation.
The three different coffee processing methods are dry, wet, and honey. Depending on the type of processing, the amount of time required for fermentation varies.
The primary purpose of fermentation in all methods is to remove the mucilage layer, which is rich in polysaccharides (pectin), and reduce the coffee beans’ water content. However, if managed carefully, fermentation also has a positive effect on the quality attributes of the coffee.
How Does Making Fermented Coffee Affect The Quality Of The Coffee Beans?
Since coffee fermentation processing is so complex, many different potential outcomes exist. Poor, uncontrolled fermentation can lead to mold or even chemical flavors in drink coffee – That’s why producers need to understand the process, monitor it, and work according to the best methods.
Because when successfully controlling the fermentation process, it can enhance the best attributes of the coffee, produce coffees with distinct, unique flavors…
Increase sweetness acidity while discovering and highlighting distinctive new flavor groups such as fruit, caramel, chocolate, and others. This is increasingly common in the specialty coffee processing industry in Vietnam and the world.
Application Of Fermenting Coffee Process In Special Coffee Processing
Good coffee is high-quality coffee and requires consistency and uniformity in each production batch. As the scale and output increase, this becomes a considerable challenge for coffee processors and roasters.
It motivates Producers to learn the processes behind fermented coffee brands, attend quality analysis training, and taste tastings, so they can proactively assess the impact of their experiments – and change them if they need to.
One of the critical factors to be aware of and control is Brix, pH, fermentation time, the temperature during fermentation, accurate monitoring, and data recording both during and after fermentation so that it can be extracted, adjusted, and improved over the seasons to bring quality and consistency to the product.
You see, fermentation in coffee is inevitable. We will be the ones to decide on purpose fermenting to create unique product lines with different flavors. Coffee processing is an integral part of making your excellent coffee cup taste and flavor.
Hopefully, after this series of articles, you can better understand what juice-fermented coffee is, how unique fermented coffee affects the taste of coffee, and suggest ways to create specialty coffee beans.