Almost all coffees undergo some fermentation of their fruit. This process occurs when the yeast and bacteria begin to convert the sugars and acids in the coffee mucilage, generating different organic acids, carbon dioxide, ethyl alcohol and other compounds. Producers typically attempt to control and modulate the rate of fermentation by using open tanks, buckets, water channels and other containers to hold the coffee during this process, or by different techniques during the drying phase on raised beds or patios.
What is the anaerobic environment changing?
Anaerobic fermentation (without oxygen) is a new method where the coffee is treated in a fermentation tank which is completely sealed and deprived of oxygen: the oxygen is removed when the coffee is added at the start of the process, and the valves on the tanks prevent the infiltration of oxygen during the process while also allowing CO2 to be released when it accumulates. After about 18-24 hours, the anaerobic process caused a breakdown of the mucilage (the honeyed substance that surrounds the coffee beans) and a huge build-up of CO2 pressure in the tank. This pressure forces the flavors of the juicy mucilage into the coffee parchment. Once carefully removed from the tank, the coffee is dried to stop the fermentation process.
Why is this technique that special?
Producers are always looking for new ways to differentiate themselves, work on the profiles of their coffees and deliver incredible tasting notes to roasters and consumers. Anaerobic fermentation offers complex, very expressive and rather rare flavors. Keeping the coffee cherry in a sealed tub creates a different profile that some producers enjoy on its own, where some others use "additives" like the coffee cherries in an attempt to introduce different flavors or affect the progress of the fermentation. The latter is called anaerobic impregnation and sometimes contains spices, molasses, tropical fruits etc.
Costa Rica Anaerobic
For many years we have had a special relationship with Costa Rican producers. Each fieldtrip allows us to discover new producers, new coffees, new mills and new technical approches.Our last visit was no exception to the rule, since it allowed us to discover this unique Anaerobic coffee from the Sanchez family farm. It is all their passion and their innovative spirit that are expressed through this unprecedented coffee. We are proud to share it with you.
In the cup, the fruity flavors of star fruit and pineapple combine with the delicate acidity and sweetness of coffee. This coffee is ideal as a pour-over, a brewing method that brings out all the subtleties and complexities of this unique coffee.
About La Candelilla and the Sanchez family
La Finca Candelilla is owned and operated by seven brothers and sisters from the Sánchez family. This farm is dedicated to the production of honey and natural coffees and grows the Catuaí and Caturra varieties. La Candelilla was the first micro-mill to be established in Costa Rica and the pioneer of the micro-mill trend. Before creating La Candelilla, each brother or sister separately managed their own piece of land and delivered their coffee to a wet mill run by a cooperative. During the 1997 coffee crisis, despite the risks and uncertainty, the family made the decision to pool their land and start their own water mill. After many years of planning, during the 2000/01 season, Beneficio La Candelilla transformed its first crop of coffee.