One of the exciting things about coffee is that farmers and roasters are always looking for new and improved ways to innovate and experiment in search of new, interesting coffee flavour profiles. Fermented coffee is one of the recent explorations that are getting popular all over the world. Whether you’re a fan of pour-over, AeroPress, or cold drip brewing, fermented coffee can open a new world of aromas, flavours, and depth.
But what exactly is fermented coffee? How is it different than regular coffee? How does fermentation affect the coffee taste? We have all the answered for you.
How is the coffee fermentation process?
It’s safe to say nearly all coffee goes through some degree of fermentation between harvest and your cup. Broadly speaking, fermentation is when yeast and bacteria convert the sugars and acids in the coffee fruit into different acids, alcohol, carbon dioxide and other compounds.
Washed coffees almost always go through some natural fermentation where the seed of the coffee fruit, after pulping, is fermented before washing. Natural dry-process coffees also ferment, as the fruit or mucilage naturally dries around the seeds. It’s a feast for microbes that are actively digesting sugars and by so, changing flavours as coffees dry.
Taking it to the next level, there is anaerobic fermentation. This basically means coffee is contained in a sealed environment without oxygen. Usually barrels with a degassing valve that lets air goes out but not in. This step can use either pulped or whole coffee fruits with the skin and take from a few hours to a few days, depending on the producer.
Anaerobic fermentation makes sure the types of microbes that actively participate in fermentation are limited by the lack of oxygen in the air, and by doing so it substantially alters the end flavour profile and offers the producer a lot more control.
What does fermented coffee taste like?
Most anaerobic coffee tastes a bit creamier than your typical coffee. Another key characteristic is the loss of bitterness. Not in excess that it doesn’t taste like coffee, but the sweeter, fruitier flavours are going to be a lot more evident. It is not uncommon to find fermented coffee with tasting notes such as pineapples, cherries, and tropical fruits.
That’s also why most fermented coffee is usually brewed as a pour-over. The fruity profile pairs well with this brewing method and can be fully enjoyed, although you can definitely get a nice cup out of espresso, french press, or other brewing methods with fermented coffee.
Joia Rara is the perfect example of a Brazilian single-origin fermented coffee that is outstanding brewed as pour-over and has incredibly precise and immediately identifiable flavour notes of pineapple, wildflower honey, and a juicy body.
Is fermented coffee good for you?
Many fermented beverages and food products hit the spotlight in recent years in the health space. Think Kefir, Kombucha, you name it. These are usually fermented with bacteria that come with probiotic benefits. Although fermented coffee doesn’t contain these types of live bacteria that help with digestion or populate your gut flora, health benefits are not unheard of.
Since the fermentation takes away some of the bitterness of the coffee, people with acid reflux or IBS might be able to enjoy fermented coffee better than typical coffee. Although fermented coffee hasn't yet been proven to be better for you than your average cup of joe, if you’re thinking you might lose something due to the fermentation rest assured they are just as good.
Where to buy fermented coffee?
If you want to brew brilliant coffee that’s bursting with flavour, look no further than the Fazenda Joia Rara fermented Brazilian coffee. Its unique anaerobic fermented process help brings out notes of tropical fruits, citrus, high acidity, clean and juicy body out of this yellow catuai coffee.
This coffee comes from the renowned Cerrado Mineiro region in Brazil, highly regarded as one of the top regions for coffee in the world. Joia Rara undergoes a dry fermentation process in sealed barrels for 72 hours after the coffee cherries were harvested. After fermentation, they are set for pre-pulping drying on the cement patio.
This coffee is ranked top 10 in the Cerrado Mineiro Region, and top 60 in the BSCA which covers hundreds of coffees from all over Brazil.