Is your coffee anaerobically-fermented? What are we talking about and what difference does it make? Read on to find out.
All coffees, whether washed or natural, undergo fermentation. Fermentation is the process by which the sugars (carbohydrates) and acids present in the coffee cherries, specifically in its mucilage, are broken down by the action of enzymes occurring in yeast and bacteria to other organic acids, ethyl alcohol and other compounds. This process continues until all sugar is metabolized and the coffee beans are completely dried.
Fermentation is crucial as it helps achieve the right flavours in your coffee. It is the difference between good and bad coffee. Conventionally, the coffee cherries once harvested are processed by one of two methods: washed or natural. In washed, the pulped coffee cherries are fermented in a water tank, and then are washed and dried. In natural, the coffee beans are spread out over a large area to be sun-dried. In both of these methods, fermentation happens in open air ie. oxygen-rich environments.
In the conventional aerobic methods, fermentation happens for 16 to 20 hours and is very difficult to control as there are many variables like temperature and humidity involved. Coffee producers attempt to control and regulate the velocity of fermentation by different methods so as to achieve desired and consistent flavour notes. For example, they may use open tanks or water channels or different techniques employed during the drying phase.
Now how is anaerobic fermentation different? It is a newer and rare method of processing coffee that is becoming popular with coffee enthusiasts and specialty coffee drinkers. Here, not only is the most unique flavour achieved with the coffee, there is no guesswork involved.
We can control the timing of fermentation and even add flavours if we so wish. Where aerobic fermentation happens rapidly and is left to nature, in anaerobic fermentation we can tweak temperature, humidity, pH et cetera with frequent monitoring to achieve the desired acidity, sweetness, body, fruitiness.
So how is this done? The coffee cherries are added to large stainless steel containers from which oxygen is either initially removed completely, or a valve is put in place on the top through which oxygen is let out as cardon-dioxide produced during fermentation pushes the oxygen up. The latter method is called “semi-carbonic”. Following this, the containers are frequently monitored to check the temperature, moisture, pH and other variables. This way, we can avoid overfermentation or unsavoury acidic flavours resulting from increased temperature. Since the anaerobic environment retards the activity of yeast and bacteria, the time for fermentation is prolonged, allowing for a more controlled production of consistent and great flavours. If you haven’t tried anaerobic coffee, you should. And here’s why!
It has a very unique flavour that sets it apart from all other coffee that you’ve had so far. The body, sweetness and acidity are all preserved. It has a bit more fruitiness than regular coffee, just enough to reduce the bitterness without it being any less of a great coffee experience. Sharper, more intense flavour notes are locked into your coffee in anaerobic fermentation, attributed to the lactic acid produced in this method.
At Yantra, coffee beans are anaerobically fermented and freshly roasted. We did not hesitate to adopt this novel and rare technique if it meant great coffee! So what are you waiting for? Order a batch of our anaerobically-fermented coffee for a customized flavour experience and indulgence like you’ve never had before.