Pulp Natural

growing, harvesting, processing, cupping, purchasing

Pulp Natural

Postby Benjamin Myers on Tue Oct 20, 2009 10:07 am

I am interested in learning more about 'Pulp Natural' coffee's and there seems to be a lack of good information on the web surrounding this subject. Would anyone be able to fill in some of the story for me. Or point me in the direction of some links on the web. I am looking for a concise definition of what the pulp natural process entails, when and where it first began, how much more labor intensive this process is, etc. We have three different pulp natural's at our roasting facility right now that we are in love with.

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Re: Pulp Natural

Postby Andre Vornbrock on Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:31 pm

Hi Benjamin,

I just want to share my understanding of this process as I have been researching it lately for the purposes of possible implementation. In shortest terms, the process should consist of pulping by some means, but skips the normal fermenting or removal of mucilage by other means that wet-process coffees use. The parchment coffee with mucilage still on is laid out to dry fully. This can then be left with parchment on if shipping weight is not a concern, or it can be processed down to green.

For difference in labor intensiveness it would depend on what the farm or mill is already set up to do. If for example they already have pulping machinery and raised drying beds to allow the pulped coffee with mucilage to dry quickly I don't think a whole lot more work is required as compared to other wet processing.

Here's some links that have helped me:
http://www.coffeeresearch.org/agricultu ... essing.htm
http://www.coffeeresearch.org/coffee/dr ... istics.htm
http://www.sweetmarias.com/dictionary.p ... ry=process
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Re: Pulp Natural

Postby R Miguel Meza on Wed Oct 21, 2009 8:59 pm

pulped naturals are definately more labor intensive and carry more risk. because the mucilage is still on the coffee it tends to stick together in clumps while drying. must be raked very frequently the first couple days. can easily over ferment if not dried quickly and if not laid thin enough and raked well or if drying environment is humid or cool the coffee may take on mold. even when reasonbly well done cups may be a bit inconsistent. they also take up slightly more space than washed parchment and few extra days to dry. imho these coffees are best to be dried on screens at least the first 2-3 days. seems to allow some of the mucilage to drip off and are less likely to have fermenty flavors. also if you are doing pulped naturals on patios the mucilage soaks into the patio and its needs to be cleaned well before drying more coffee. when well done there will be a slight increase in body and sweetness and sometimes acidity as well. aromatics are more intense. but often the drying isnt perfect. if really bad the coffee may taste flat dirty sour and onion/garlic-like. even when reasonably well done most the time the cup is a bit muddied the flavors less crisp acidity reduced and a less clean finish. really beautiful when perfectly executed but imho this is the hardest style of processing to really get right and see consistent results with. particularly in areas that are fairly wet and humid (which is most places coffee is grown) sometimes partial demucilaging is used as well, removing some of the mucilage mechanially so that the coffee dries faster and more consistently.
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Re: Pulp Natural

Postby Michael Sheridan on Tue Nov 02, 2010 8:22 am

Thanks for this helpful info on the semi-washed process.

We are supporting a smallholder pilot project with pulp natural coffee in Nicaragua that tries to respect and mitigate the risks of this approach while also creating opportunities for smallholder farmers to take advantage of the real opportunities out there for semi-washed coffees.

Under our pilot, we have created a financing mechanism within a partner cooperative under which the coop has guaranteed payment of $200/quintal for a limited amount of semi-washed coffee to select farmers who volunteered for the pilot. (When we settled on this amount, the NY "C" was still around $180!) Having cash guaranteed has increased people's willingness to put their coffee "at risk" of quality/value loss during post-harvest without eliminating quality incentives - if the coop can earn a price higher than $200, farmers participating in the pilot naturally take home the differential.

Technical assistance for the project - construction of drying sheds for the days of pre-patio drying mentioned here, effective approaches to drying on the patio, etc. - is being provided in part by a member of the cooperative who has had success over multiple harvests processing semi-washed coffees that he has sold for healthy premiums to buyers in Japan. Additional input is welcome, however. (I have attached a shot of the model drying shed in which the depulped coffee is spread out - no two beans touching - and left to dry for a few days before being moved to the patio. The sheds have zinc/laminate roofs and accommodate up to one dozen of the screens pictured here. Any comments on design are welcome!)

All the proceeds from the sale of the coffee (up to $200) will be recycled into a pulp natural fund for the 2011-2012 harvest for another group of farmers, who will again have a guaranteed payment but will have a larger pool of knowledgeable friends and neighbors from whom to draw technical assistance.

I will check in here after harvest/commercial season to provide an update on the outcomes of this first round of the pilot.

drying shed - oreadores.JPG
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Re: Pulp Natural

Postby Michael Sheridan on Fri Nov 19, 2010 2:02 pm

I am looking for some more info on pulp naturals from roasters who have experience with them. (These are questions we might have asked before launching the pilot I recently described here, but better late than never!)

How do you feel about them generally in terms of cup quality?
I have heard different opinions, but generally feel like there is significantly less excitement about them in the U.S. market than there is for natural-process coffees. Are there ways they consistently differentiate themselves in the cup from washed coffees in the way that naturals do?

What can you get consistently in a pulp natural that it is hard to get in a washed coffee?

What are the areas in which pulp naturals consistently tend to be weakest?

How do you use them?
Single-origins, blends, espresso, etc.

Thanks in advance for any feedback based on your roasting experience.
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Re: Pulp Natural

Postby Alan Frew on Sat Nov 20, 2010 2:02 am

michaelsheridan wrote:How do you feel about them generally in terms of cup quality?

What can you get consistently in a pulp natural that it is hard to get in a washed coffee?

What are the areas in which pulp naturals consistently tend to be weakest?

How do you use them?

1)If you start with a good coffee, AND the processing is perfect, the pulped natural will have increased intensity. I can pick them on dry aroma alone in a blind cupping.

2)Again compared to the washed version, they are sweeter, fuller bodied and far more aromatic.

3)They have less acidity, and if you're selling into a USA drip filter market this can be a weakness. Outside the US, an overall superior coffee with limited supply.

4)We use them mostly as expensive SO monthly specials, but our local version (New Guinea Suavee AX) is the base bean for one of our espresso blends. The Costa Rica Tarrazu Miel ("Honey") microlots we get access to once a year sell out in a week. Customer feedback is that they work across all brewing processes.

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Re: Pulp Natural

Postby sweetmarias on Thu Dec 09, 2010 10:44 am

In reference to Costa Rica pulp natural micro lots, has anyone heard of
Francesco Leon, Calidad Absoluta S.A.

Supposedly Calidad Absoluta is making some deep inroads on quality by investing in a few nano-mills in Alta Tarrazu. They have their own crew of trained pickers that service the farms of their members, and interesting approach. I thought someone had mentioned Calidad Absoluta on the forum but a search doesn't turn up anything.
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