Fermentation is a crucial part of coffee processing, but how much do you really know about it? Winemaker turned coffee fermentation designer Lucia Solis will teach you the ins and outs of processing in this series of informative classes.
BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos courtesy of Lucia Solis
In the April + May 2018 issue of Barista Magazine, editor Sarah Allen takes a closer look at fermentation, or the process of removing mucilage off coffee seeds during the processing stage of coffee production. In the article, Sarah talks to Lucia Solis of Solis Coffee Solutions, who helps coffee farmers improve quality at origin by focusing on processing systems. Lucia, a former winemaker turned coffee fermentation designer (who we featured on the website in a roundup of the best coffee Instagram accounts), uses her knowledge of microbiology to help farmers understand what’s happening to their coffee during processing, and will be teaching classes on fermentation during the SCA Global Expo April 19-21 at Ada’s Technical Books and Cafe.
Knowledge about fermentation is difficult to find in coffee, although it’s well understood in other beverages like beer and wine. “In wine and beer, it’s necessary and prized,” Lucia says. “Because it’s optional in coffee, it has a different meaning and understanding. It was only used really to remove the mucilage.” In her work, Lucia has used inoculation, or introducing specific yeasts and bacteria, to improve quality and consistency in coffees at origin, and she’s excited to teach others about the possibilities of fermentation. She gave a talk at last year’s SCA Global Expo, the 2017 Sensory Summit, and appeared in interviews with The Little Black Coffee Cup and the podcast Opposites Extract.
Her first two classes on April 19 and 20 focus on processing techniques for farmers at origin who work on or perhaps own a wet mill. The first class will be given in Spanish and the second in English, and they will help folks who work on farms understand various processing systems. “We will evaluate the use of Brix, pH, and temperature to monitor both ripeness and the progression of fermentation,” Lucia writes.
The second class, taught on April 21, will break down processing for coffee professionals on the roasting and buying end of the coffee supply chain. Attendees will get to try coffees that have undergone different fermentation processes and decipher how different yeasts, bacteria, and general processing methods can alter the flavor of coffee. “During the 90-minute workshop we will cover advanced topics in coffee processing that go beyond reductionist terms like ‘washed’ and ‘natural,’ and cup examples of custom-designed fermentations from Africa and Latin America against reference coffees processed using more conventional methods,” Lucia shares.
There are still spots open for Lucia’s classes, which we know will be a rare insight into the effect of processing and fermentation—check them out now.