Natural Ethiopian coffees are known for their beautiful fruit-like and floral sweetness that is noticeable to even the new coffee drinker. In most natural processed coffees there are “Quakers” or bad beans, that are mixed in with the good beans. Quakers are essentially defected beans. They’re a slightly more yellow color and are generally a disfigured shape. If you've ever seen a natural processed coffee, you've probably already noticed the difference in color and wondered what these lighter beans were. This is a result from the processing method, sorting happens naturally in water processed coffees (bad beans float to the surface and good beans sink) however, in natural processed coffees sorting is done by hand and good vs. bad isn't as easily discerned. With natural coffees, Quakers are just a part of the experience unless you remove them from the sample you're brewing. But, I felt a bit experimental one day and thought, what happens if you brew a cup of coffee with only quakers?
Here’s how I did it.
Like I mentioned earlier, Ethiopian coffee has an amazing and distinct aroma. Quakers do not. It wasn't necessarily a bad aroma, but was just sort of lacking one. The few notes present were earthy, roasty, and overall rather bland. The bean color is/was also much different than the normal beans.
For this experiment, I went ahead and used a pour over method, done with the Kalita Wave. I also used our hand-crafted pour over set, the new acaia scale, and a Variable Temperature Bonavita gooseneck kettle.
The weight of the coffee grounds was exactly 20 grams, and I poured in 50 grams of 205 degree water for a 30 second bloom. Already you can see the slightly orange color that the beans had while it began to bloom. There was also a lack of smell in this process as well.
The brewing process:
1) 10 second pour to 50 grams, bloom for 30 seconds
2) 10 second pour to 150 grams, brew for 30 seconds
3) 20 second pour to 250 grams, brew for 30 seconds
4) 10 second pour to 300 grams, brew for 10 seconds
5) 20 second pour to 350 grams, brew until finished
A full cup of (quakers) coffee. The smell of the brewed coffee was unexpected, there were some of the usual fruit and floral notes, it was earthy but a bit dull. It was definitely lacking a pleasurable aroma of sweetness normally present in a cup of Natural Ethiopian coffee.
The tasting notes were: roasty, extremely earthy, and grassy. There was also a strong bitterness and astringency that made for a very unpleasant experience. It was truly unlike any coffee I had ever tasted. The most interesting part, however, was the lack of body that was present. The initial flavor completely had dissipated from my pallet within 30 seconds of the first taste. It was very obvious that this was a huge contributing factor to the bitterness we have been experiencing in Natural Processed coffees.
Overall, it was a very interesting experiment. I recommend trying it to understand how your cup is effected by Quakers in a Natural Processed Coffee. I will continue to love my Natural Processed Ethiopians, but will try to remove those beans that contribute to a less desirable cup.
Hopefully, this was helpful in your pursuit and love of coffee.