If you're a coffee lover, you've probably heard of experimental processing. But what is it, exactly? In short, experimental processing is when coffee farmers and processors try new techniques to see if they result in a better cup of coffee. These techniques can be anything from using new types of fermentation to changing the way the coffee beans are dried.
While some coffee purists may balk at the idea of experimentation, the fact is that without it we wouldn't have many of the delicious coffees we enjoy today. So in this article, we're going to take a closer look at experimental processing and some of the ways it's changing the coffee industry for the better. Keep reading to learn more!
What is Experimental Processing?
As we mentioned above, experimental processing is when coffee farmers and processors try out new techniques to see if they result in a better cup of coffee. These experiments can be anything from using new types of fermentation to changing the way the coffee beans are dried.
The goal of experimental processing is to improve the quality of the coffee while also making it more consistent. By trying out new techniques, farmers and processors can find ways to overcome problems that have plagued them for years. For example, one common problem is inconsistent bean size. This can lead to uneven roasting and brewing, which results in an inconsistent cup of coffee. However, by using a technique like float sorting (which we'll discuss below), farmers can remove smaller beans before they even enter the roasting process. This results in a more uniform roast and a tastier cup of coffee.
Float sorting is a type of bean sorting that removes smaller beans before they enter the roasting process. This method was developed by Dr. Daniel Peterson (a world-renowned expert on coffee science) and has been shown to improve both the quality and consistency of roasted coffee beans.
Here's how it works: First, farmers soak their freshly picked coffee cherries in water for 12-24 hours. This causes the cherries to swell and makes it easier to remove the beans from the fruit. Next, farmers add the soaked cherries (beans included) into a tank filled with water. The lighter beans will float to the top while the heavier ones sink to the bottom. Farmers then skim off the floating beans and discard them. This leaves behind only the heaviest (and therefore highest quality) beans for roasting.
Carbonic Maceration / Anaerobic
Another popular method of experimental processing is called carbonic maceration. This involves fermenting the coffee cherries in an anaerobic environment (without oxygen). This process breaks down the cherry's pulp and imparts unique flavors into the coffee beans. Carbonic maceration is often used in natural processed coffees, as well as in some washed coffees.
Experimental processing is an important part of bringing new and delicious coffees to our cups each morning. By trying out new techniques, farmers and processors can find ways to overcome problems that have plagued them for years—resulting in a tastier cup of joe for all of us!