Colombian naturals

Naturals have always been a cause for debate in the specialty scene. Even though the flavour a natural process creates in a coffee is often explosive, sweet and creamy, it is also very similar across a wide range of coffee flavour profiles. Where the washed versions of some coffees may be extremely different, naturals may not exhibit these differences as clearly. Still, most consumers enjoy the thick sweetness of a natural, especially in espresso beverages.

Lately, I’ve come across many naturals from Colombia. This is somewhat unorthodox, since most Colombian farmers adhere to the 18-hour fermentation tradition in their washed coffees. A generic Colombia coffee’s flavour profile can be characterized with a combination of red fruit sweetness and a medium chocolate body. This definitely seems to complement a natural process, so I was keen to try out some of these microlots.

The Colombia XO by Fried Hats was marketed as a truly special taste experience that you should enjoy in a comfy chair like drinking old whisky. Despite the intense and promising aromas, I found the coffee to be too thick and bold and lacking any vibrancy.

The next on the list was the La Claudina by Assembly Coffee. I believe (or hope) I’d some back luck on this batch, because it tasted slightly underdeveloped and nutty. Still, there was quite some clarity and diverse acidity.

Finally, the Potosi by La Cabra blew me away. It had been a long time since I had finished an entire cup of filter coffee this quickly. Intense, sweet, vibrant, it had it all. This definitely proved to me that a Colombian natural can work.

The fact that one of these coffees had me convinced that a Colombian coffee could benefit from a natural process, inspired me for a new project. I’ll be visiting the Argote farm in june this year, and I will have to see if Juan Pablo is open to doing a natural process of some of his coffee. With the classic Colombian flavour profile of his coffee, I feel we could enhance the sweetness and acidity while keeping some of his body intact. It’s definitely a different approach than we had with our fermentation experiment last year.