A few weeks ago I mentioned that I’d taken delivery of the same delicious coffee processed two different ways. It’s not the cleanest comparison possible since I couldn’t hold the roaster constant in this case, but no matter. I present to you a meeting of the micro-lots: Brown's Finca Vista Hermosa Edlina (washed) vs. Barefoot's Edlyna (honey-processed, aka pulped natural).*
As a reminder, both coffees were roasted on the same day, 5/14. The last time I’d done a “cupping” focusing mainly on processing method was in October, 2011, with Counter Culture’s Finca Mauritania. Here’s a quick copy/paste of a few relevant bits from Peter Giuliano’s notes on that session:
“Now, you know what washed coffees are: in this case, lightly pulped and fermented overnight, gently washed and spread out on clay-tile patios to dry in the…sun. This creates clean, transparent coffees, with bright fruit notes… Another thing I want you to notice - can you smell that the aroma of the washed coffee is more pronounced than the semi-washed? Participants in the Pro-Series Processing class will remember that fermenting coffee creates acetic acid, which is one of the few acids that contribute to aroma. It's the same acid that makes vinegar smelly, and though this coffee doesn't have any vinegar smell, the tiny bit of acetic acid from the fermentation kind of stimulates the aroma and, well, makes it jump.
[Pulped natural] is just like the washed process, except skipping the fermentation and washing steps. Therefore, the pulped coffee is put on the clay patios with its sticky mucilage still intact…The aroma is muted, you'll notice, but in the cup you should also notice elevated body and dark-chocolate notes. This is certainly due to the extended drying that results from the mucilage layer, since anecdotally, long drying equals deep body and "dry distillation" notes.”
Brown’s washed version of this lot was my favorite coffee for a while earlier this year, a cup full of salted caramel with great sweetness and clarity. A few months later, it’s still wonderful but has lost a step, with the caramel now making its presence known in more subtle ways. I found Barefoot’s pulped natural version to be more different than I’d expected despite having tasted this sort of “processing effect” before. At 3 days post-roast I was getting stone fruit and pastry in the wet aroma, a creamier body, more of a lingering finish. This one’s very nice, too.
Initially I favored the pulped natural Edlyna, but then I seemed to go back and forth. In the end, I decided I'd be hard-pressed to choose between the two methods as applied to this particular coffee at this moment, in fact. Good thing I didn't have to! Brown and Barefoot (and Finca Vista Hermosa, of course), well-done. Keep it up!
Sipping on: Klatch’s FT Rwanda Café Femenino
Delivery expected today or tomorrow: Portola’s Roney Diaz Villela (Brazil; splurge)
Leaning toward for next week’s order: Revel's Ethiopia Yirgacheffe (fresh crop)
Pretty good bargain as Geishas go: Bird Rock’s Colombia Geisha Finca Cerro Azul. Fully washed, just like the Geisha that Ceremony’s Andy Sprenger won this year’s Brewers Cup with. Could the lots be identical?
* I have no idea why the name of this micro-lot is spelled differently by each roaster.
If you're interested in trying out this microlot, Coffee Kind currently sells an Edlyna Microlot from Sweet Bloom Roasters.