Natural: (adj.) a hippie, free love coffee that doesn’t take a lot of baths.
The ‘natural’ method of processing coffee is one of the oldest practices in growing. It’s the original way to process harvested coffee cherries, and it is still used widely today in various forms. Ripe coffee cherries are picked, rinsed, sorted, and laid in the sun to dry with the full cherry on the bean. Leaving the cherry on allows it to soak into the bean, infusing it with juicy fruit flavors and aromas that shine all the way through roasting into the final brew. After the cherries dry, they are crushed off the bean and the coffee goes through the rest of its processing. It’s easy to mess up the natural process because coffee wants to ferment and rot like crazy, so you have to keep it turning while it dries. Natural coffees done well have an excellent fruity, slightly fermented taste commonly described as “jammy,” or as tasting like fresh berry preserves.
Remember: ‘Natural’ does not refer to how the coffee is grown, it’s about the way it’s processed. Read more about the spectrum of how coffees are processed here.