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The Art of the Wash: Understanding Masha Coffee's Washed Processing Method

In the world of specialty coffee, the method of processing can make or break the final product. One such method that has stood the test of time is the washed process. This technique is renowned for producing clean, vibrant flavors that highlight the true character of the coffee beans. At the Masha washing station in Kayanza, Burundi, the washed process is a meticulously crafted art form that transforms raw coffee cherries into a sensory delight. Join us as we delve into the intricate steps and the craftsmanship behind the washed processing of Masha coffee.

The journey of Masha coffee begins the moment the ripe cherries are harvested by the local farmers. To preserve the quality and freshness of the beans, the cherries are transported to the Masha washing station and depulped on the same day. Depulping involves removing the outer skin of the cherries to expose the mucilage-covered beans. This immediate processing is crucial as it prevents any unwanted fermentation that could negatively impact the coffee's flavor.

Once depulped, the beans undergo an underwater fermentation process that lasts between 12 to 24 hours. This step is pivotal in developing the complex flavor profile of Masha coffee. During fermentation, naturally occurring enzymes break down the mucilage, allowing for the enhancement of the beans' intrinsic qualities. The precise duration of fermentation is carefully monitored to ensure optimal results, balancing the beans' acidity and sweetness while preserving their unique character.

Fermentation is a critical step in the coffee processing journey, where the mucilage (a sticky layer of fruit residue) is broken down by enzymes and microorganisms. In the case of underwater fermentation, the beans are submerged in water, creating an anaerobic environment. This environment slows down the fermentation process, allowing for more control over the development of flavors.

Enzyme Activity: The underwater environment limits the oxygen available to the naturally occurring enzymes, which in turn slows their activity. This slower fermentation allows for a more controlled breakdown of the mucilage, preventing the development of undesirable flavors and enhancing the beans' intrinsic qualities.

Temperature Control: Submerging the beans in water helps maintain a consistent temperature throughout the fermentation process. This consistency is crucial in preventing the over-fermentation that can occur in warmer conditions, ensuring that the beans retain their desired flavor characteristics.

Flavor Development: The duration of fermentation is carefully monitored, with the optimal time ranging between 12 to 24 hours. During this period, the controlled breakdown of mucilage enhances the beans' natural acidity and sweetness. The process also brings out unique flavor notes such as papaya, cocoa, and raisin, which are characteristic of Masha coffee.

Following fermentation, the beans are thoroughly washed to remove any remaining mucilage. This washing process involves agitating the beans in clean water for about two hours, which helps in achieving a uniform and clean cup. The washing not only enhances the clarity of flavors but also ensures that any impurities are removed, setting the stage for a high-quality final product.

After washing, the beans are spread out on raised drying tables where they are left to dry for approximately 20 days. The drying process is conducted under the careful watch of the station workers who regularly turn the beans to ensure even drying. The altitude and climate of Kayanza provide ideal conditions for this stage, allowing the beans to dry slowly and evenly. This patience and precision are vital in locking in the complex flavors and maintaining the beans' integrity.

The washed process at the Masha washing station culminates in a coffee that is a true reflection of its terroir and meticulous processing. Masha coffee offers a harmonious blend of papaya, cocoa, and raisin flavors. The complex acidity and sugary sweetness are testament to the skillful processing that enhances the natural qualities of the Bourbon variety grown in Kayanza's highlands.

The success of the washed process at Masha is a result of the dedication and expertise of the local farmers and station workers. Their deep understanding of the coffee's journey from cherry to bean ensures that each step is executed with precision. This commitment to quality is what sets Masha coffee apart, making it a sought-after choice for coffee connoisseurs around the world.

The washed processing method at the Masha washing station is more than just a series of steps; it is a carefully crafted art form that brings out the best in the coffee beans. From immediate depulping to underwater fermentation, thorough washing, and precise drying, each stage is designed to enhance the coffee's natural attributes. The result is a clean, vibrant cup that reflects the dedication and craftsmanship of the Masha community.

As you savor the flavors of Masha coffee, take a moment to appreciate the intricate process that transforms raw cherries into a memorable coffee experience.

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