Car Boot Natural – A unique processing method

An interesting phenomenon occurred on our recent trip to Colombia. Whilst cupping in Armenia we came across a dry process coffee that blew the minds of all cuppers present. 

Dry process or naturals are hard enough to come across in this particular part of the world, mainly as a result of its hot, wet climate not lending itself very nicely to the even consistent drying that’s required for this style of high maintenance processing. But, a few younger farmers are tackling the challenge and exploring solutions for producers at lower altitudes to be able able to gain the premium associated with this method of labour-intensive processing. 

 

On a recent trip to Quindio, Colombia, Miguel Fajardo, one of the founders of the ‘Co Work’ Project, now renamed as Cordillera, presented us with a sample for dry-milling that he had been working on. The sample of dry cherry had been mistakenly stashed under a tarp in the boot of his car for some time, which he simply forgotten about. Something must have tickled us about the situation or maybe it was simply curiosity getting the better of us but instead of discarding it, we all agreed to add it to the cupping table the following day.

 

It’s fair to say that we had no expectations about this coffee. Reasonably we expected to find unpalatable amounts of ferment, acetic acid and mould but we were game enough to cup it to see what a coffee tastes like when left in a car boot in likely 40 degree temperatures for 3 weeks.  

 

What we didn’t expect was for this unusual lot to be a table winner and come in cupping at around 90 points on a number grading sheets.  Its fair to say that everybody was caught on the back foot and nobody really could come up with a reasonable explanation. It was clean, sweet and juicy with a vibrant raisin and apricot fruit character; delicious. 

 

‘The sample of dry cherry had been mistakenly stashed under a tarp in the boot of his car for some time, which he simply forgotten about.’

 

Successive attempts to recreate the success of the ‘Car Boot Natural’ as it is now affectionately known have ended in mostly comic failure. I’m not sure that the world needs this kind of extreme processing and I’m pretty sure that the coffee wouldn’t last much more than a week or so in its current state but it was certainly a fun highlight to a fun origin trip.


By Sam Langdon