Consistency in Coffee Fermentation and Processing: What do bread, wine, cheese, yogurt, chocolate, and coffee have in common? Fermentation. Fermentation is critical in coffee. It allows for the elimination of mucilage and affects a wide variety of tastes and sensory qualities. Having control over it throughout the coffee manufacturing process enables you to improve the quality and consistency of the coffee.
However, fermentation is a complicated process that may be difficult to manage at the farm level. To discover more about how producers may solve this, let’s take a closer look at the issue below with Helena Coffee Vietnam.
WHAT IS COFFEE FERMENTATION?
Fermentation is a natural process when microorganisms such as yeasts (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and bacteria (Lactobacillus) consume and metabolize sugars and acids found in cherries. As a consequence of this reaction, these molecules are converted to acids and alcohols.
However, why are we fermenting coffee? First, washed coffees must remove the mucilage mechanically.
During the fermentation or maceration of coffee, yeasts may destroy the mucilage contained in the beans; this process is called demucilagination.
Fermentation is essential since it contributes to developing tastes and smells in the cup.
Mucilage is made up of sugar, amino acids, and fragrance precursors. Therefore, if you want to expose and express the aromatic potential of the beans, you must take care of this.
Do you recall how sugars and acids are degraded during fermentation? These same processes are responsible for taste. When sugars and acids are broken down under regulated conditions, at appropriate temperatures and time intervals, the tastes and smells created in the bean are more appealing.
BENEFITS AND DRAWBACKS OF POOR COFFEE FERMENTATION
With proper fermentation, it is possible to extract the qualities of coffee. In other words, adequate fermentation does not improve the quality of coffee since coffee is already of high quality from the field. However, we can extract and preserve the properties inherent in the area.
However, fermentation is not always beneficial. A faulty fermentation degrades or generates undesirable characteristics in the coffee.
We detect in an over-fermented coffee are wine tastes, but those of spoiled wine. Even before we cup the coffee, we can tell whether it has been over-fermented: the beans are crimson and have the unappealing odor of decaying fruit.
For these reasons, it is critical for producers to understand fermentation and to have as much control over it as possible.
CONSISTENCY IS IMPORTANT, IF NOT MORE SO THAN QUALITY
Consistency is also necessary for market access and repeats purchases.
Without a constant product, building long-term partnerships is very difficult. Consider what would happen if a customer returned to a producer after purchasing a fantastic bunch of coffee.
The consumer will undoubtedly anticipate the same characteristics in their coffee the second time around. However, they do not get the coffee they expected.
Thus, you begin a connection you cannot sustain; your consumers will no longer get your coffee, and you lock the door, which is very difficult and costly to reopen.
Fermentation is complex because it is the consequence of chemical interactions between microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast, and fungus.
And, according to Helena Coffee Vietnam, they are found almost everywhere: in soil, in fruits and berries, and the environment as spores. Their responses will vary depending on the conditions, modifying the tastes and fragrances of coffee beans in unique ways.
Nonetheless, fermentation consistency is possible. It is not a random occurrence. Said, you must define and manage specific factors to increase repeatability, which will result in the [same] cup profile.