Years ago when we promoted in Venezuela the need to create a qualification for specialty coffees to develop the business we used to compare coffees with wines. We were based on the fact that wines have 200 aromatic and flavor components where in coffee they can reach 1500 which makes it much more complex. The argument was that the coffee business would resemble that of wine with the particularity that here there is no aging but the issue of freshness is vital, so we could say, to force an analogy is that after roasting the coffee requires the same logistics as the Beaujolais Nouveau.
However, the other similarity that concerns us is that today, thanks to innovation, the same methods that have been used for centuries in the fermentation of wines have been used in coffee, I am referring to Anaerobic Fermentation.
Without going into details of biochemistry, anaerobic fermentation in coffee is a process in which ripe cherries selected according to their brix degree are partially pulped or not, and placed in an airtight fermentation tank with a valve to allow degassing. of the CO2 originated during it. The fermentation time usually varies from 12 to 36 hours or even days. The microbes that participate in the fermentation are limited in their propagation due to the lack of oxygen and substantially alter the final flavor profile. In the tank, the oxygen content is very limited and the decomposition is slower and more controlled, generating a process more similar to that of chocolate. Then they are dried in the sun and alternatively by mechanical means as in the natural process.
The flavors usually obtained are fruit flavors: pineapple, raspberry, passion fruit, sherry, chocolate. If the flavors are vinegary it is a symptom of over fermentation, so these experimental methods represent a high risk for the producer. On the other hand, they are a potential for innovation and generating extraordinary products and also for innovating in the application of the technology used in wine production to control the fermentation process in coffee.
What stands out from all this according to our point of view and our argument for working with specialty coffees is that thanks to the coffee decomoditization movement and innovation we can enjoy coffees with very particular flavors and on extraordinary occasions that are worth trying.