The ‘Natural’ method for processing coffee cherries is the most traditional. It is also the cheapest and most simplest, requiring little or no machinery. In some cases it is also the only option available due to little or no water available for the washed/wet process. After harvesting the cherries, they are spread out over a concrete or brick patio, preferably in sun light. At regular intervals the cherries are raked over to prevent fermentation. Workers must protect these cherries from rain or falls in temperature by covering them. After around one month, the cherries moisture content will have fallen to approximately 12% and thus the cherries are now dry. At this point the outer shell will be dark brown and brittle. You can actually hear the beans rattling inside! This process is not easy and requires real skill and knowledge as it is possible to over dry the beans, which will lead to damage during the next stage 'hulling'. Conversely, if the beans have too much moisture content, they will be at risk of fungal attack. Natural processed coffee beans can produce some wonderfully bright and bold coffees. In particular, look out for any natural processed beans from Ethiopia, which are well known for their crazy characteristics. Generally speaking, naturals tend to suit brewed coffee, but not always.

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