What’s the problem with infused coffees?

8 minute read

I am, as I am; whether hideous, or handsome, depends upon who is made judge.

Herman Melville

Every story needs a villain—and in an industry where the highest achievement many can aspire to is simply not being a villain, at least that measure of success is attainable.

But the power to create a villain—power that comes with status, stature and success—is one that should be regarded with its own caution.

A couple of weeks ago, this post appeared in Bean Scene Magazine. The timing is conspicuous—in force with a different, similarly vantaged piece published by Perfect Daily Grind days prior, Saša Šestić succeeded in centering industry conversation around so-called “infused coffees,” just weeks before baristas from around the take the stage in Milan to present their coffees at WBC, and where ONA Coffee—Saša’s company—will be present.

In both pieces, Saša casts suspicion on coffees and coffee producers selling coffees that, he says, are artificially imbued with flavors in an attempt to mimic the coffees his companies offer. He cautions competitors and judges to be skeptical and aware of the prevalence of these coffees, and positions himself as the arbiter of purity and transparency in coffee.

I’m troubled by Saša’s claims on a couple fronts—not simply because he’s appeared at a curious time, with all the fury, swagger and self-righteousness of a carnival barker—but because of the identity of the villain in the narrative he writes: coffee producers.


Anyone who’s worked extensively with coffees processed by the so-called “carbonic maceration” method popularized by Saša and his companies ONA Coffee and Project Origin likely has noticed the way that the parchment of these coffees can often end up dyed red or pink from contact with decomposing pulp, and that the green coffee itself takes on a slightly orange-red hue.

A tale of two coffees from Colombia: one processed via carbonic maceration (left) and one using a conventional washed method (right)

As enzymatic and microbial activities progress over the course of the fermentation, compounds from the cherry and its pulp such as polyphenols are shuttled through the parchment to the seed via the same principles with which we brew coffee—osmosis and diffusion. Oxidative and enzymatic reactions on the coffee further change the structure, appearance and flavor of the coffee. 

Coffees processed through this method are distinctly “uncoffeelike” in their flavor, often with remarkable fruit and alcohol notes as well as spice and florals. To say the least: they’re polarizing, generating endless cannon fodder for coffee meme accounts on Instagram and cheap-shots by bloggers like me.

The coffees Saša warns of, though, have been produced in a different way—conventionally processed but infused by their producers with essential oils after processing or by adding oils or or non-coffee materials such as fruits (in wine these non-grape fruits would be referred to as “co-ferments”) or microbes during fermentation.

Saša’s fear, I guess, is that producers will take shortcuts to mimic the coffees he’s famed for popularizing.

At first blush, this makes sense: in theory, any molecule smaller than the pores in the walls of green coffee should be able to penetrate into the seed (the pores are 1.5 nm – 10 nm on average). Anything larger won’t—it would be like trying to park a battleship in a one-car garage.

By adding pineapple to the fermentation tank, a producer might be trying to add tropical flavor to the coffee—but pineapple skin is a rich source of wild yeast, and the flesh high in sugar and acid, so while it’s certainly possible that in high enough concentration some smaller molecules of pineapple flavor or aroma could wind up in the coffee, the greater effect would be that the nature of the fermentation itself changes. Driven by yeast rather than bacteria and with nutrient available to accelerate the fermentation, the metabolic byproducts of that fermentation will also change.

Similarly, the addition of cinnamon to a tank—now infamous—or the use of wood containing cinnamic acid to hold coffee during fermentation actually might have another microbiological effect: reduction in the presence of yeasts, for example, thus allowing for modulation of microbes controlling the fermentation; or inhibiting the production of acetic acid, thus resulting in a cleaner, less sour-tasting coffee with a lower risk of spoilage and thus mitigated risk for the producer—cinnamon aromatics or not. (I’ve been unable to find any evidence of the production of ethyl cinnamate or cinnamic acid in coffee fermentation without the appropriate precursors being added somewhere—but as I’ve said before: I am not a microbiologist).

My first visit to coffee producers in Mexico was in 2014, a year before Saša’s win at WBC; even then, I met producers who spoke of adding panela, pineapple, oranges, and other additives to their coffee fermentations to control the process, improve the quality, reduce risk, and/or improve the selling price of their coffee.

And I met producers who fermented their coffee in wood:

A photo I took of pulped coffee fermenting in wood fermentation tanks in Guerrero, Mexico from a farm visit in 2014.

Would those coffees need to be labeled?

[Aside: While it’s near impossible to clean due to its porosity, wood also can serve as a starter culture for a fermentation—as anyone who’s seen Michael Pollan’s Netflix show Cooked knows]


While working on this post, I reached out to Samo Smrke, who is quoted in the Bean Scene article, for comment. He explained that through gas chromatography, he was able to determine that it was highly likely that the coffee he analyzed had been infused—a protocol he said works, so far, for cinnamon and anise. He graciously shared a screenshot of this output with me, and sure enough, on the graph, three peaks in the graph jump out as outliers—three peaks that also correspond with compounds found in cinnamon:

Histogram results of gas chromatography conducted on a green coffee infused with cinnamon oil, courtesy of Samo Smrke

“Essential oils of spices are quite stable and very distinct, so it’s easy to find it,” he explained, “but infusing fruit during fermentation is probably going to be extremely hard to detect.” 

I think it’s important we focus on the second bit. 

While I don’t think they should be banned from commerce or competition, I do support the notion of transparency or disclosure in the case of fully-dried green coffee having been treated post-processing with microbes (à la Afineur), infused or scented—mostly due to potential safety concerns related to the flavor agents used as well as the potential for allergic reaction, pathogenic growth or contamination, but also because of the marketing value of those changes and the importance, as a buyer, of being able to reliably obtain coffees of a desired profile or flavor build year after year (or avoid them, if I choose). In practice, roasters using barrel-aging of green coffee, for example, will disclose this fact as it does generate a premium or a distinctive marketing call-out for that coffee.

But by declaring that the addition of “micro-organisms that are not part of the coffee micro-flora,” (in the words of Dr. Chahan Yeretzian) results in “adulterated coffee”, Saša and his collaborators overlook a key point: not only is it implausible that fruits in a fermentation tank will necessarily flavor coffee in the way they describe (again: battleships in a garage), but more importantly that coffee is in itself a non-native species to most of the world and there is no tenable definition of what coffee’s inherent micro-flora might be.

I’ve written about Dr. Amy Dudley’s work before, but the point is this: green coffee from different parts of the world can be identified by the “fingerprint” of microbes on the coffee because there isn’t just one signature—different coffees from different places will carry different microbes. Fungal spores—such as, of course, those that cause roya—carry easily and long distances in the wind, on humans, and shipping vessels. Anywhere coffee grows, anywhere humans go there will be microbes that are, in other words, not native.

Like the coffee plant itself.

And, in fact: all strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, one of the most-commonly used yeasts in controlled fermentations (not just of coffee but also wine, beer, etc.) and one that is present in high populations in wild fermentations of coffee may have in fact evolved from yeasts native to China.

Coffee from Ethiopia, yeast from China—growing in places they didn’t originate but managed to adapt and survive in the wild. But sure: we’ll leave it to someone who has a vested, corporate interest in regulating the space to dictate that coffee grown in Panama and fermented with a strain of yeast cultured from a vineyard in France is an “unnatural product”—as if removing the skin of the cherry and fermenting it in a carbon dioxide flushed chamber for days on end is somehow a natural process.

But wouldn’t it be easier to exclude all other coffees from competition or purity definitions—other than those that went through an approved Natural Carbonic Maceration™ or Super Honey™ process? [emphasis and sarcasm are, as usual, mine]

[And what the fuck are those processes exactly, anyway? For someone so keen to lambast coffee growers for a lack of transparency, I’ve yet to see a published, detailed protocol for Saša-designed coffees used by baristas in competition. And, for the record: in true Beaujolais-style carbonic maceration, chaptalization—meaning the addition of sugar to grape must before fermentation—is, by law, permitted up to 3 g/l.]

To be clear: Silva et al. (2000, 2008a) reported in a study of dry process coffee in Brazil that there are some 200 yeasts present during fermentation of coffee—including S. cerevisiae—as well as bacteria, which Van Pee and Castelein (1972) estimated at a population of some 2.5 × 105 cfu/g (including Acetobacter and LAB), and as many as 104−105 cfu/g Filamentous Fungi including many that uncontrolled may produce a class of mycotoxins known as ochratoxins, such as Aspergillus Flavus—the genetic parent of koji—and Aspergillus Niger (better known for producing black mold). And in wet processes, Dr. Rosean Schwan notes in her seminal Cocoa and Coffee Fermentations that “in general, the wet process can be characterized as a mixed bacterial and yeast fermentation” governed primarily by LAB and yeasts—including our enterprising traveler, S. cerevisiae.


If a tank is inoculated with microorganisms, should these coffees be disqualified or require special labeling? I’ve discussed the shelf life and sensory benefits of inoculated fermentations before, but there are others as well: 

To restate: the addition of microbes to a fermentation to control it can offer tremendous benefit to coffee producers.

In regulatory parlance, while these microbes may have an impact on the flavor of the final product, they are, in fact, processing agents—destroyed in the roast, and not themselves present in the final product. Other industries that use inoculation, from the production of wine, beer, cider, sake and spirits to yogurt and cheese and butter to miso and soy sauce and vinegar, don’t require special labeling—in the U.S. or anywhere else.

So where do we draw the line?

Do we only allow geshas in competition? [Looking at previous years, you might think that’s already a rule]
Do we specify that coffees must be processed only a certain way, with fermentations taking place in prescribed tank shapes, sizes and materials and only with water from certain sources? 
Or do we just require that all competitors use the same coffee?

If industry chooses to regulate processes, definitions or purities, this regulation should originate from coffee producing countries—the same way that wine regulations, whether Protected designations of origin or appellation d’origine contrôlée or EU regulations, originate from those countries that have an economic interest in protecting the production and identity of those wines.

Ultimately, wrestling control from a coffee producer through regulatory mechanisms instituted by buyers and judges in consuming countries is problematic, imperialistic and will stratify coffees as either merely “commodity specialty grade” or gilded for competition by virtue of the purity test imposed by those buyers and judges—regardless of the welfare of producers, regardless of the benefits or economic viability of the processes in question.

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That's just, like, your opinion, man

  1. Sestic is just another virtue signalling pawn, looking for a slice of fame, before a highly anticipated coffee expo. No more no less.

  2. Great article. I’d like to add that you often can taste a fruit-adjunct / co-ferment, such as pineapple.

    I would be upset if a roaster, importer, or producer sold me an “infused coffee” without it being labeled as such . For one, coffee is still a food product and it’s perfectly reasonable to need to know what’s in it. And, for some of us, the magic is really that it’s “just coffee”. I’m not interested in regulations or mandates, but there should be pressure to fully disclose any additives to coffee (except microbes)

    1. Esters and aldehydes are tiny enough to pass into the seed, for sure, but the concentration would need to be pretty high to have it overwhelm (though I did hear of a pineapple co-ferment winning WBC, so hey—who knows).

      I think more information is always a good thing and definitely as a buyer am always wanting to know more about the coffees I’m sampling.

  3. First of all great article Christopher, really loved reading important stuff.

    I believe that we have a common agreement about two points, but for me, these two points are most important for the “Infused coffee” topic,
    Which are important about transparency if we infuse coffees and also where do we draw the line when coffee is just coffee and when it becomes adulterated as I call it “infused”.
    .
    Also a lot of my words were spined here and completely out of content so if you do not mind I will respond to your comments

    You obviously have an issue with the appearance of green beans of cm process, taste of cm, transparency of Cm, and value of cm. I will answer all of them below

    Here is my comment
    We introduced the Cm process to the world of coffee back in 2015.
    I have traveled the World to introduce this process to coffee producers in 10 coffee-producing counters with over 100 coffee producers In the last 7 years.
    As the educational purposes for producers that I am not connected with I have done talks and lectures about CM in Korea coffee show in 2015, Re CO Symposium in Budapest in 2016, World Coffee Events in Brazil in 2017, SCA Boston in 2018. Also, I have written a full chapter in my book The coffee Man about this process, wrote an article in Perfect Daily Grind in 2016 ( you can still find it), and done 10 workshops in 10 coffee-producing countries.
    With only one goal in mind to support coffee producers with the new and innovative process to provide education, all these talks I have done were for free and did not charge for my time.

    So I am sorry you are not correct that CM is not transparent and this process is secret, we do not tell exactly what temperature we ferment what lot, we will say low or high temp, we do not say how long exactly we fermented, we will say short or extended, we do not say how many times with flush co2, but we say that we flush. We will not say exactly what is headspace of cherries /parchment in the fermentation tank.
    We do not add yeast or bacteria in the present time, we use wild yeast and bacteria that are available.
    But will start form next year to introduce different species of Saccharomyces and different bacteria. we had some great results with our experiments in past two years.
    Once we start we will disclose this information.

    See you mentioned green Cm samples look so different, then reference. Of course, they do. Your comments show me that you have no experience in extended Anaerobic fermentation and Cm process at this is very common appearance. . I recommend you for future when you write something publicly that you are not bringing uneducated opinion as you obviously have not ever ferment CM coffee with extended time.

    Possibly less reading about fermentation but more practice on farms is my advice.

    I might give you tip here
    Next time you have the opportunity to visit a farm place coffee is a sealed container for 10 plus days in cherry. The appearance will be similar to CM sample on your photo. (not taste )

    Why does CM taste different? if you have processed coffee this way you would of course know, know but let me tell you just one tip
    When we ferment Cm coffee we have no oxygen /unlike our classic washed and natural
    If course Cm will be different than normal Anaerobic fermentation as some bacterias thrive in oxygen others do not,
    So in our case now we have new wild bacteria called
    Enterobacrices this bacteria is alive only in an environment without oxygen in a specific temperature.
    This bacteria increases compounds that remind of
    Stonefruit and floral notes.

    Back to La fantasia even though you do not like the taste of Cm coffee I am ok with that. Taste is subjective. Most importantly this producer for 5 years was making loss processing classic washed coffees with 82 pts scores .. and was ready to give up … . I visited this farm back in 2018 they started using CM process and now they are selling it for 5 times more then before. Happy to share details of the owner If you like..
    Also COE winner that I have not ever meet in Peru won with cm process, they learn about this process from my articles. I can go like this with so so so many facts and am happy to share more if you like.

  4. Thanks for a refreshing take on this curiously timed hot topic, I do agree on the most obvious issue on hand. Where do you draw the line on additive, I think you touched on it graciously.

  5. This is well argued and it made me think, if the power was in the hands of producers, would it be reasonable for them to suggest a cafe operator should not add milk, sugar or syrups to coffee since it adulterates the flavour.

  6. In short

    Here is my second comment

    I have personal agenda, i want “FAME “with infused coffee article and my integrity was questioned ?

    BIg accusation Christopher so let me comment.

    I have been fortunate to have my dreams come true after 8 years of competing when we won WBC in 2015, Then I have coached First Female World Barista Champion (both times with cm process ) also I coached many World Finalists and Nationals Winners from Australia Ireland, Poland, and Kenya. For example, this year I am coaching Kenya Barista Champion Martin Shabaya for WBC in Milan (also no charge for my time, in fact, I am paying for his expenses also). Back in 2016 when COE was canceled in El Salvador with PO team straightaway we organized a non-profit auction to support farmers, we fly there at our expense we ran Auctions in El Salvador for 2 years and also Honduras for 3 years.
    We sold over $400 000 USD of coffees on auction
    Of course, all was done as non-profit.

    Happy to share so many more facts (not uneducated opinions ) about giving back to our industry.

    SO why did I share this information with you? And most of all Why did I do these activities?

    I have a lot of gratitude and respect towards people from all over the world that supported me to be where I am today, so after I won I have been giving back my time, my knowledge, and also finance when I can to our next generations of coffee farmers and baristas worldwide.
    This has been giving me so much joy.
    I have nothing to prove to anyone. I am so so so grateful to be where I am today. And love exactly where I am.

    I do not need glory, fame, or spotlight, quite opposite want to support people in our industry so we can have next generations getting this spotlight.

    This is why I wrote this article because transparency with infused coffee is a problem.

    Infused coffee and no transparency is not good for the future of coffee like you also suggested in the article.

    So YESSS finally we agree on something .

    You see I wanted to write an article about infused coffee back in February 2020, when I started the process with Henry from Perfect Daily Grind Covid came we had different priorities.
    .
    Yes, but why two months before competitions why not after?

    I will answer this question with few questions for you and of course our readers?

    Can you imagine if the winners of our competitions such as Brewers and Baristas also COE winners won with infused coffees?
    What message are we going to send to future coffee producers brewers and baristas?
    How will we inspire the industry to go forward?

    Back in 2013 Matt Perger introduced EK to us all, He inspired many of us to use these grinders today.

    I have introduced Cm process in 2015, Whether you like it or not I have inspired many coffee producers to process coffee this way.

    What if Next champions are using spice coffee in competitions? Similar to coffee that you showed in the article that is clearly infused. How will this inspire the next generations?

    For me this thought is scary, maybe you do not care about this issue and this is ok ..

    According to COE and WCE ruled flavored coffee is not allowed.

    This is why I wrote this article before the competition to give us all chance to go back on the right path like we have been for so many years.

    By the way, Spice coffee that you showed in the article, I am not sure if you are aware but we have infused this coffee in Canberra with different spices such as cinnamon sticks and cloves we sent it to Samo to test, WHY? so we can start working on protocols how to test infused coffee, so we can provide better solutions, for future of coffee. Again I will be supporting these studies with my time and finance as much as I can afford and networks.

    As you can see I am using my time, my rescores, to provide education to everyone, anyway I am glad you found the results of our work with Samo about spice coffee useful thank you so much for sharing. There is more to come in the future.

    My goal is to inspire the next generations of leaders
    to make sure we keep going in the right direction in the most positive way so we can all learn, progress and leave our industry in a better place,

    1. Hey mate, a lot going on here in all the different comments.

      First of all, thanks for taking the time to read and engage — I appreciate it and don’t mind a lively conversation. I think you’ll find that the comment referencing your desire for fame was not from me but from a reader and that I did in fact correct them on that. You are, by all accounts, already quite well known 🙃

      I do have quite a bit of hands-on processing experience myself and appreciate your suggestion to spend time in the field. It’s certainly crucial for truly understanding how coffee changes in different environments and fermentation designs. However, the details you mention ARE the secret sauce for fermentation kinetics—without them, there isn’t actually transparency.

      I hope to model what this could look like soon.

      On a final note, I want to point out that I’m troubled: I hoped to pivot the conversation you initiated to one about producer equity and agency in the face of WBC and in the context of the modern market, and instead of that, you chose to center yourself—your accomplishments, your good works, your impact, your influence. All of these achievements are notable and as an industry we benefit greatly; but I think, now, it’s time to talk about something else.

      Cheers — hope to see you soon after the pandemic calamity winds down.

  7. I enjoyed reading the blog and the comments being added as well. This topic is something the cohorts of CQI’s Q Processing Level 3 have been discussing regularly for some time now. Essentially, you have Team Purist on one side (these are the same people that might say they taste “too much processing” in a coffee or “We want to taste the terroir, we want to taste the origin, we want to taste the coffee’s properties in the cup”) and then on the other side, you have “Team Stuff” (yes, needs work on the wording) who would advocate for producer involvement and intervention to develop, bring about, etc certain characteristics in the cup. (And yes, I realize I am presenting the topic as very black and white but acknowledge that it is far from this!). However, in this discussion, I do think it’s important to parse out a few things:

    – Competition coffees
    I have some concerns about how the rules are set for these competitions (green coffee, barista, roasting, etc.) and truly do hope that the setting of the rules includes the producers’ voice and input. Additionally, I’m a little lost on why for a Barista comp, the competitor is not just given a choice of a few coffees to use. Wouldn’t this allow us to assess the skill of the barista and not their capacity to traverse the world to hunt the best coffee (ok…I should be careful or I will launch into a tirade)? I am ALL ABOUT showcasing and honoring the amazing innovation, hard work, and ingenuity of coffee producers across the world, but perhaps we could work to find a better way to do this than vis-a-vis Barista competitions. *(Please read my note below about baristas)

    All that said, if the rules of a competition are no additives, then this should be upheld. However, I believe the point Christopher made above (to which I would agree) is: what do we call additives? At which point is adding something external (and we can definitely dig deep into what “something” is defined as) allowed, and when is it not? I tend to agree that once the coffee has reached the final dried and sorted state, anything added or adjusted should be stated (decaffeination and other processes have set this precedent). But competitions that encourage producers to put all their effort into creating high quality, out of this world coffees, in order to (for whatever percentage of their harvest it is) achieve a significantly higher price, and they can do this by dumping cinnamon sticks or pineapples, or a new strain of bacteria into the fermentation tank…then why not?! If we are comfortable allowing the addition of CO2, controlling temperatures, manipulating environments, adding microbes, singing songs (ok…maybe that doesn’t impact too much), etc. then why does adding certain other components create issues? Perhaps I’m missing something, but allowing some things yet not allowing others does seem a bit odd (not to mention again if the producers’ voice is not included in those decisions).

    One last note about competition coffees. Several of the articles on this topic have pointed to the need for transparency. This has been a tough one for me to jump into. On the one hand, I would say that anything which could be potentially harmful to someone (like an allergen), the disclosure of this has human health and safety considerations. However, on the other hand, if a producer is able to hit the desired flavor note by adding something during processing, why do they have to disclose their “competitive advantage?” Now, I get it, perhaps it’s not being suggested that they provide a recipe from A to Z for the process but just say, “hey, I threw cinnamon sticks in this one;” however, let’s make sure whatever level of transparency we are requesting that it is a two-way street of transparency. I’ve never competed in barista, roaster, brewing events, but I have been a part of green coffee competitions. I totally get that a producer wants to protect some of their information. They’ve worked damn hard to find ways to differentiate and capture higher market value. Just as roasters work tirelessly to hone their craft and develop roasting profiles that make their coffees unique or baristas spend HOURS on a signature drink to wow the judges. My only note here is whatever we are requesting in transparency from a producer, I’d strongly encourage that degree of transparency to be reciprocal.

    – Coffees sold on the market
    Stepping outside of competition coffees and into coffees being traded on the specialty market (or even commercial market for that matter), I would echo similar sentiments but extend some further nuances. It pains me to see roasters request everything but the kitchen sink (but does include the dog sometimes!) from producers in the name of transparency, but when it comes to disclosing a similar level and degree of information, there is hesitancy. Again, if a producer is able to hit the flavor profile your customers are wanting and can do it by adding something during processing (assuring this is not impacting allergen or human safety), then why is this viewed as “less than,” inferior, or a shortcut by our industry? When will we lay aside this seemingly magical notion of terroir that essentially views the producer’s role as to not “stuff it up” and realize that one of the only processing methods that would deliver on this concept would be a mechanically demucilaged coffee processed precisely after harvesting and dried mechanically in a controlled environment? Not many of those coffees making it into your high-end specialty offerings these days, eh? I get that this issue is complicated, and I’m still working hard to listen to the concerns across both sides of the industry; however, my passion is to see an equitable approach to the issue that ensures we are all approaching the topic and willing to deliver on what we are asking from the other side.

    These are just some of my thoughts on the topic, and I look forward to listening, learning, and approaching the matter with humility. I look forward to hearing what others say and working to broaden my understanding of these complex issues so that we can together pursue a more economic, social, and environmentally sustainable coffee industry for producers!

    ———
    *I realize my tone above comes across quite negative toward baristas, and I just want to say thank you to those of you who work as a direct connection to consumers and represent the hard work happening all along the supply chain. While my first thought when tasting a delicious coffee is usually NOT “Wow…that Barista nailed it!” but more so about the producer, I am overwhelmingly grateful for the barista’s role in being advocates and ambassadors for the coffee industry. Thank you to those who do it well (putting up with the awful customers you interact with at times) and giving credit back up the supply chain where it is due.

    1. Tim, thanks as always for your kind and thoughtful contributions!

      Your line about songs is funny — I’ve spent some time on the farm of a well-known coffee producer in Mexico who only picks cherry under the light of a full moon. Biodynamic practices be damned, I think there’s something there even if it’s just that the story and intention makes me think it tastes better ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  8. Thank you Christopher for putting this out there. Here’s my two cents…as coffee producers we should always be transparent in what we do, as you know from working with me, I always have been. If other producers want to try the different processes we do, why wouldn’t I share? What this industry needs is to interact more and share with each other. I don’t have a “magic sauce”, I don’t think any of us really do. I have just found processes that work for us and that our customers like. Producers that want to try them can use them as a base and go from there. I do hope however they realize they need to adapt them to their altitude, environment, equipment, varietals, etc. and start out with 5 gallon buckets so they don’t risk a whole days crop.

    In your end of the business you are obligated to let consumers know what “ingredients” are in your beverages. So why should coffee producers not be held to the same standards if they are adding any artificial by products to the fermentation tanks? When I’ve compared wine to coffee in the past it has been to highlight the sensory similarities of the two. What we smell, what we taste but I am well aware that they are dealing with the grape juice and we are dealing with the seeds of coffee.

    This coming crop I’m excited to say that I’ve found a professor from the University of Florida Food & Science Department that for the first time will help me/us understand what is actually going on with these different processes and I can’t wait for him to test everything we’ve been working on. 🤓😬

    1. Thanks as always for your perspective Aida! I’m stoked to learn more about your findings – no doubt there’s detectable magic in the tank, (especially when we’re taking f about Kili). Keep us posted!

  9. While I admire what Sasa did in 2015, the ingenuity, the investment, the risk. Not everyone can do such things, and nor should the industry ask (or in some cases demand) producers to take such risks or make such investments without properly understanding the risks involved.

    Not all farmers are blessed with the terroir of Panama, the resources to buy stainless steel tanks, lactobacillus, or years of experimentations before being able to reach market.


    adulteration
    NOUN
    “the action of making something poorer in quality by the addition of another substance.”

    Is this really the word they’re choosing to go with here?

    Why are few cinnamon sticks in a tub is “adulteration,” yet spiking coffee with yeasts, storing in stainless steel tanks, and flushing with carbon dioxide isn’t? If the argument is “WBC rules say….” well I think we’re done there. WBC is not at all a representation of coffee at origin for 99.99+% of producers.

    The way “Infused = adultery” is presented to me sounds only as defensivism. Protecting your advantage over producers who aren’t as blessed. Which is fine, if that’s the choice you want to make, but it’s not progressive. It’s self-protective and conservative.

    1. Thanks for your comment – I do think the use of “adulteration” was intentional, which inspired much of this piece. Can’t be overstated how disconnected WBC is from the reality of coffee producers or consumers, so thank you for that!

  10. Thanks for speaking truth to power. Anaerobic fermentation and carbonic maceration are hardly new to humans. How’s anyone really trying to take credit for applying it to coffee? And how gross does it sound when industry people are talking about who champions should and shouldn’t be? Blech.

  11. I’ve enjoyed everything written here. I think everything said in this space is very important for our industry and I hope this topic end up with an agreement to allow fair chances to competitors and all people involved in the coffee bussiness chain.
    I am grateful for all your words.

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