Discourse & Dissent: Contrasting Coffees Box Set
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Discourse & Dissent is a box set series of two rotating coffees from different areas of the tasting spectrum. Our fourth set of the series features two differently processed coffees.
We launched the Discourse & Dissent box as an opportunity for us all to consider freedom, freedom to and freedom from. We live in a time when the basic freedoms that are supposed to be guaranteed to all are being tested, called out for their deep, historical, and present-day shortcomings, false uses, and manipulations. At the same time, many in our society are using the freedoms that we do have to push and drive our representatives and society as a whole to become more equal. We are proud of freedoms that we do have, yet know how flawed they are and that it is our duty to create and insist upon the opportunity for freedom for every single person in our society.
Discourse and dissent have played key roles in the foundations and building of the better parts of our society since our inception. Discourse and dissent drive us forward, closer to freedom, practices that our nation is founded upon, and that we need to cultivate as norms in our society, knowing they are basic elements of patriotism.
In this round, we get to explore natural and washed processing. Processing is the way coffee cherry is removed from the seed, which has quite a big impact on the finished coffee! To illustrate these differences, we’re offering a box set with two coffees with all variables equal - except for processing. We are so excited to be able to offer these two Rwandan coffees from the women of the Fugi Processing Station, which is located in the Ngoma Sector of the Nyaruguru District, Southern Province.
The initial steps for each process are the same: first, a day of intensive sorting of the coffee cherries under complete shade to ensure that only the ripest cherries are chosen and any visible defects are removed. The cherries are then floated in a large container filled with water, and the floaters are skimmed off. The density of a coffee cherry is a good indicator of quality; the less dense coffees that float to the bottom are higher quality, and are reserved to be processed as a higher grade lot. Floating is done multiple times at Fugi.
What happens next marks the difference between these two methods:
Though this is technically a washed process coffee, the fermentation step happens prior to the depulping. Selected cherries submerged in water and fermented for 10 hours. After fermentation, when the fruit has started to soften, the coffee is manually depulped by simply pressing on the cherries by hand to expel the seeds. Emmanuel, who runs Fugi Processing Station, tells us: "In the case of [the Ikizere] washed coffee, there was a difference in coffee pulping. This lot was pulped using women’s hands, not pulping machines. We decided to make this traditional method of coffee pulping in order to create emotional, closer relation with this lot and owners. It takes time to do such method and this helped these women to talk, discuss much about their lives, coffee, issues, etc. and exchange ideas to overcome those issues. The time spent together pulping coffee was crucial and practically important in building their social relationship."
After the manual depulping, coffee moves directly to the grading channels. Here the coffee is rigorously washed to remove any remaining mucilage and separated by density. After grading, the coffees are soaked (now with nearly no mucilage attached) in a tank of water for a final 8 to 12 hours to promote even distribution of moisture throughout the seeds for a more even drying.
Coffee is then moved onto shaded drying beds for 48 - 72 hours. This step has two distinct benefits. First, it sets the trajectory for the entire drying phase by initially beginning very gently and slowly under complete shade. Secondly, it allows ample time for intensive sorting while the parchment is still wet - this is important because certain defects (seeds bitten by Antestia in particular, thought to cause the potato defect) can be seen much more easily when the parchment is wet. When the moisture content reaches 11.0%, the drying phase is considered complete. The parchment is bagged and stored in a dry warehouse until time for milling. The total drying times for washed process coffee is around 30 - 40 days.
Cherries chosen for natural processing at Fuji are dried in a brand new parabolic drying structure that was built earlier in the 2020 season. Within this greenhouse, coffees are completely protected from rain and harsh, direct sunlight. The goal is for cherries to be a single layer on the beds, maximum 2 - 4 cm of depth. Each station has calculated exactly what volume will fit perfectly on their sized tables to achieve this. For the first 5 days, the coffee is turned every hour. From day 5 to day 20, coffee is turned every 2 hours. From day 20 - 50, the coffee and ambient temperature are strictly monitored to keep the rate of drying slow and controlled.
This focus on extremely thin layers, coupled with frequent turning and temperature monitoring, is to ensure that the flavors remain clean and free from over-fermentation or mold defects. When the moisture content reaches 11.0%, the drying phase is considered complete. The dried cherry is bagged and stored in a dry warehouse until time for milling. Total drying times for natural processed coffee at Fugi Station is around 50 - 55 days.
What to Expect in the Cup:
Naturally processed coffees are unmistakably fruity, and Fugi Ikizere Natural is no different. It boasts — big fruity notes with a juicy mouthfeel and ample sweetness.— This natural shines as a pourover, and offers a dense fruity sweetness as espresso, a perfect mix for milk beverages with smaller milk ratios like cortados.
Fugi Ikizere Washed offers a brighter cup with a crisp acidity, softer dried fruit— balanced in a clean, bright cup. Like its naturally processed counterpart, this coffee works beautifully as pourover and a balanced espresso.
We hope you love these coffees - and feel free to let us know what your favorite style is!
Read the full story of how we came up with the series on the blog.