Anaerobic coffee is the rebel, the rule-breaker. It’s where the fermentation process embraces creativity, resulting in taste profiles that defy the norm.
This processing technique involves fermenting whole coffee cherries in an environment devoid of oxygen. This is achieved by placing coffee cherries into sealed tanks or specialized bags. The restricted oxygen environment prompts the generation of specific metabolites, such as organic acids, alcohols, and volatile compounds. The coffee beans, encased within the cherries, act as sponges absorbing these by-products of anaerobic fermentation. The result is a cup that ventures into uncharted flavor territories, pushing the boundaries of what you thought coffee could be.
Anaerobic processing often involves an extended fermentation period, allowing for a more intricate interplay of biochemical reactions. This extended timeframe facilitates the development of complex flavors, as the microorganisms continue to interact with the coffee cherries. The most common result is a coffee that has distinctive winey or fruity notes, but as coffee processors become more advanced in these techniques they are able to pull out more specific flavor profiles. What we’re witnessing now is a huge amount of experimentation, akin to the explosion of new beers we’ve seen in the craft beer industry.
Diego Bermudez and Edwin Noreña are two of our favorite coffee alchemists who are perfecting anaerobic fermentation. They’re able to produce stunning coffees with flavors ranging from lychee to grape soda. All of this is done with no additional chemical additives. It’s a natural process derived from a deep understanding of how yeast and other microbes influence the flavor of coffee.
In essence, anaerobic processing is a meticulously controlled scientific endeavor, where the manipulation of oxygen levels orchestrates a symphony of biochemical reactions. From microbial dynamics to metabolite production, the method is a testament to the intersection of scientific precision and the artistry of flavor development in the world of coffee processing.