The Naturals Debate Revisited – Interview with Felipe Croce
This is a follow up to James Hoffmann’s blog post on the Naturals debate done some time ago. Although we talked about some of these issues in a later podcast, I now feel even stronger about raising my voice to make people be more open towards natural processed coffees.
A lot of you were able to taste the 2010 Natural Processed coffee from Sitio Canaa this year. We have been able to change some people’s perception ow what a clean natural can taste like. Still, there are a lot of skeptics to natural processed coffees, and with good reasons, but I think claiming that all natural processed coffees are bad is ignorant and just means you haven’t had a well processed natural yet.
I am not a fan of all natural processed coffees, mainly because most of them taste fermented (bubblegum fruit / vinegar) a taste that is dominant in the cup and taste the same regardless of the coffee’s terroir. Therefore I consider ferment (although it can be a pleasant fruitiness to it) a defect and an uninteresting coffee flavor. You get this flavor a lot especially where drying is difficult because of humid climate where you need heat from the sun to dry the coffee.
However, in a lot of areas in Brazil the climate during harvest is very dry and perfect for producing excellent naturals. The problem with in Brazil is that in most cases the naturals are not treated as specialty coffee. Most times you see a lot of green unripe cherries mixed with ripe cherries and dried cherries on the patios. This creates a unclean cup and when dried on the hot dirty patios you also get fermented flavors.
When produced in a careful way making sure all factors such as temperature during drying, even ripeness of cherries, drying on raised beds, etc, the results can be fantastic. I would claim that it actually enhances the terroir of the coffee and it is a much more sustainable way of producing coffee as there is almost no use of water in the process. Of course it is a very difficult process to handle and the process might not be the best for all farmers, but to dismiss this process claiming that it produces unclean coffees is like blaming the espresso machine for producing bad espresso.
While my visit in Brazil, I was visiting Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza (FAF) and Sitio Canaa for the third time. While cupping the coffees from their harvest this year my very good friend, farmer at FAF, and one of the pioneers in refining the natural process these days, Felipe Croce, presented a whole lot of experiments he had done during the 2011 harvest.
I learned a lot during these days, and thought it would be nice to share this with all our blog readers. Therefore I decided to do a video interview with Felipe while hooking up with him at Coffee lab in Sao Paulo. Unfortunately the video is slightly out of focus, but the content is still of high quality. Hope you enjoy it: