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Experimenting with Australian grown coffee

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  • Experimenting with Australian grown coffee

    A couple of weeks ago I went down to a farm in the Northern Rivers of NSW and hand picked a few buckets of extra ripe, purply plum coloured cherries, with a view to honey processing them. I sorted them, then painstakingly pulped them by hand, making a note to leave the mucilage on. This took me about four hours. I brought them back up to Brisbane with me, then lay them out to sun dry on a sheet of black plastic in the sun, turning them as frequently as I could. I left them out for about nine days, until the parchment (or the "husk") was real brittle. The Brisbane sun helped a whole heap. Anyway, I sat them aside for about two weeks, (Disappointingly I only had about a Kg at this point), and I'm currently sitting down hulling them (again, by hand- much to the detriment of the joints in my fingers).

    I'm keen to know if anybody has any opinions about what I should try, anything they think I might have done incorrectly, or anything they think I should have a shot at in the future?

    My plans are to take 250g (size of my hottop roaster) and de-husk them now, then sit them for about three weeks to try and even out the moisture content a little more, and get them looking more like the kind of green beans I'm used to seeing in imported coffees, before roasting them up against a lot that was freshly de-husked.

    I'd love to post some pictures of the process for you (it only occurred to me to take any at around the drying stage), but I can't just yet, being a new member.

  • #2
    I should probably elaborate on my reasons for doing this, lest I seem like some confused mad man who feels that doing things by hand somehow results in a better cup.
    In 2007 an Australian grown coffee from mountain-top estate won a WBC, and I think that's something that's been forgotten. Australian coffee, mountain-top aside, has a pretty bad reputation in the coffee industry.

    I think their success lies in their willingness to experiment and try out different methods of processing. This particular coffee usually yields a fairly high, sweet acidity and some chocolate macadamia notes, but it's not an especially complex cup. Generally speaking, its sorted via a floatation method (which is the standard for coffees from the area) which eliminates defective beans, but there's no colour sorting that takes place. It's fully washed and then laid to sun-dry, sometimes briefly fermented, sometimes straight from the pulper/de-mucilage machine.

    It's not a bad coffee, sometimes it can be great, but what I'm trying to do is see its potential. Sometimes it can seem hollow, and it feels like it could be further developed to accentuate the flavours that are already there, but just not as obvious as I'd like them to be.

    I'm hoping that the honey-processing, by drying the mucilage on, will result in more sugars from the fruit making their way to the cup.
    In the future I'm looking to try some naturals, and experiment with dry processing and fermentation combined with selective picking.

    NB: I don't own the farm, I just asked some favours.

    So, what's your experience with Australian coffee been like? Have you ever tried it? I'm adamant that there's some more world-class cups waiting around somewhere.


    • #3
      You might want to get your hands on some of Green Cauldron's Late Harvest Naturals Micro Lot... affordable, complex, rich and sweet!