Welcome back to my Coffee Journey! Today's post is called Java - for two reasons:
- It's a common nickname for the beverage we - almost - know and love
- It's a country of origin of a very special coffee variety. Actually, Java is an island that belongs to Indonesia.
In today's post we're also talking about coffee processing methods and actions you can take if drinking coffee has been causing stomach trouble in the past.
The island of Java is home to multiple volcanoes surrounded by densely forested mountains, wild coffee, gardens and a tropical climate.
Historically, washed coffees from the East side of the island of Java were sourced.
However, the Parahyangan coffee mirrors the semi-washed (wet-hulled) process from neighboring islands Sumatra and Sulawesi. Wet-hulled coffees often have more body and lower acidity and are know to have complex layers of flavor.
What am I even talking about here?
There are several methods to process coffee cherries:
Natural / Sun dried
As the name suggests, the sun-dried method involves spreading the picked coffee cherries on "drying beds" and letting the sun dry them. This process may take three to four weeks and is suitable for regions where humidity is low, as an example Ethiopia. To prevent mold growth, it is essential to turn the coffee cherries regularly during dry coffee preparation. The pulp is separated from the bean by a hulling machine only shortly before transportation.
Because the fruit layer and all the sugar from the coffee cherry sticks to the coffee bean throughout the drying process, both ferment together and the sweetness from the fruit really soaks into the coffee bean. This creates the distinctive taste of sun-dried coffee beans, which is recognizable from the first sip. The aroma may remind you of wine, strawberries, blueberries, prunes or chocolate. Yum, right?
The pulp of the cherry is already loosened during de-pulping, but the sticky layer of sugar remains attached to the bean, which is then put onto the drying beds - I can't believe auto-correct turned this into "dragon beds" ;-) to be the sun-dried. The mucilage can then dry up over time.
Taste-wise, the result is that you have the sweetness of the pulp, but not as intense as with natural processed coffee. The special thing about it is that this sugar layer (pectin coating) looks as if a pot of honey has been emptied over the beans, and so these beans stick together, which is why in some countries of origin (like Costa Rica) this method is also called "honey processed coffee."
For washed coffee, the ripe cherries are delivered to a washing station where the cherry pulp is removed in depulping machines. During this process, some of the sticky sugar layer remains attached to the bean and is dissolved either by machine or in the water tank. Depending on the growing region, the bath in the fermentation tank lasts between 24 and 72 hours. A controlled fermentation takes place because microorganisms activate the fermentation. This ensures gentle removal of the mucilage residues.
The detached beans are washed again with fresh water and placed on drying beds for about ten days.
Water may be scarce in certain regions, which is why farmers try to invest in "mucilage machines".
Unlike the natural method, the washed coffees are clearer in taste, more transparent, and it is easier to identify the original coffee flavor. The raw bean contains the majority of the acids, which is why typical notes develop in washed coffees. They can sometimes be citrusy (e.g. lime, bergamot, orange), sometimes flowery or floral.
By the way, the difference between the natural method and the washed coffee can be seen already in the green coffee: the washed coffee looks much greener and more uniform than the sun-dried coffee. This comes from the fact that fruit pulp residues have dried along with the beans.
|Photo Credit: Backyard Beans
Before we call it a day, let's address people who can't have coffee because it upsets their stomach:
- One of the major culprits is acidity. The pH of coffee, depending on how the beans are roasted and brewed, is around 5 (for comparison, water is 7, lemon is 2.5).
- Another reason for discomfort may be the level of caffeine. In some people caffeine over stimulates movement in the digestive tract, up to the point of having a laxative effect.
- Are you skipping breakfast and just drinking coffee on an empty stomach? If there is no food in your tummy to buffer the acidity of the coffee, your stomach lining may get irritated.
- The quality of your coffee may play a role as well. Cheap coffee (and we'll be talking about some as we come to sun vs shade grown coffee) may contain contaminants like fungi that cause health issues. Some toxins from the fungi survive the roasting process.
- Or maybe, just maybe, it's not the coffee's fault, but the milk's. You may be lactose intolerant without knowing. Even small amounts of milk may cause bloating, stomach upset and the like.
So what can you do?
- Find Arabica coffee beans that were shade-grown at high altitudes, processed naturally, and dark roasted. Finally prepare you coffee in a way that doesn't require long extraction. Cold brew may for you, I will talk more about it as we come to the four fundamentals.
- Go for decaf
- Get up earlier and have some breakfast
- Spend a little more money for good quality coffee (see point number 1)
- Try to drink your coffee black or with a milk substitute. These days there's so much out there, soy, oat, almond,...
I hope you enjoyed learning about coffee processing methods, and if you've been having stomach problems from drinking coffee, please consider following my tips and let me know if they were helpful!