Anaerobic Fermentation: Is This The Future Of Philippine Coffee Processing?

When it comes to the word “fermentation”, coffee isn’t always the first thing that comes into our minds. We might think of kimchi, burong-isda, atchara, tuba, and lambanog, but not our coffee beans that we brew everyday. Yes, the coffee that we enjoy brewing and drinking every day undergoes fermentation as well.

Are you familiar with the words “Natural Process”, “Washed Process”, and “Honey Process” that can also be found in our coffee packaging? These are different methods of “coffee processing” which are done by our amazing coffee farmers. 

Coffee Processing refers to the way of removing the coffee bean from the cherry. Regardless of the method used, fermentation takes place. This fermentation process is the one responsible for the development of the attributes, qualities and flavors of the cup of coffee you enjoy. How? Brace yourselves, this is gonna get a bit geeky.

Organic substances, like sugars and other compounds in the coffee cherry and mucilage, are broken down by various microorganisms. They produce byproducts that are absorbed into the cellular structure of the coffee. Its effect? Yes, what you are thinking is correct: the awesome flavor notes and profiles we enjoy.

The Anaerobic Fermentation

So now we know the fermentation process that takes place, what is this “anaerobic” processing and fermentation? This is slowly gaining popularity especially in the realm of specialty coffee since this is quite an interesting topic.

As the name implies, “anaerobic” pertains to something which is “oxygen-free”. Anaerobic fermentation means that the fermentation process done for the coffee is in an oxygen-free environment. The usual processing methods here in the Philippines are aerobic, which means that the fermentation takes place in an environment with oxygen. As an example, natural processed coffee involves laying out the cherries on drying beds and patios, where the fermentation takes place.  

As for Ms Maria Luz's process, she fermented the coffee cherries first and while the cherries are undergoing fermentation, she makes sure that it is oxygen-free. After a no-oxygen fermentation for a number of days, the coffee cherries are out into drying, same as the natural process.

These Anaerobic beans are blonde roast. Blonde roast is lighter than a light roast to stay its sweetness. This now resulted in grapes or red wine-like, cherries with hints of vanilla, chocolate, and honey when it cools down. Here’s a tip to fully enjoy - try it chilled. Yes, you heard it right. No ice, no sugar, just chill it like how you chill a red wine (after it cools down from hot brewing). It may be reminiscent of the Merlot wine where you can taste both cherries and chocolate in a drink. 

You’re welcome.

Final Thoughts

We can definitely say that anaerobic fermentation for coffee is a very good example of the evolution of coffee processing and the innovation of coffee producers in our country. This can be just the beginning of something amazing that Philippine coffee has to offer. But of course, trying out new processes like this can require the producers to expend more energy, resources and increase the potential risk of losses. In the end, what matters is the quality, precision, and effectiveness of the fermentation, regardless of the method used.

Try Maria Luz Dubira’s anaerobic naturals here.

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