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Towards a Most Sustainable Use of Water in the Coffee Industry

Updated: Nov 19, 2020

While enjoying a fresh cup of coffee at the office or at your favorite café, the processing methods used to create that cup do not always come to mind. The production of coffee requires a lot of energy and resources, most particularly water. Many coffee producing countries struggle with water scarcity and access to clean water, which causes the production of coffee to not only bring opportunities, but also challenges. Communities living in the surrounding areas of coffee farms are challenged as they see their water resources being allocated towards the processing of coffee. This is especially worrisome at the peak of the coffee harvesting season, when the processing of coffee beans necessitates even more water than any other time of the year. A United Nations World Water Development Report stated that it takes 140 litres of water to produce a single cup of coffee.

When it comes to the processing of coffee beans, there are 3 different types; fully washed, semi washed and natural. Fully washed coffee is a highly popular processing method that makes up for the largest percentage of the world’s coffee processing. The fully washed process results in a much cleaner and brighter coffee tasting profile as compared to the other processing types. In contrast, naturally processed coffee is usually more wild and fruity in taste but also much more heavily bodied as the beans maintain a lot more of their inherent flavor profile, as less flavor components (both favorable and unfavorable) are washed out. Unfortunately it is this heavily bodied taste that makes naturally processed coffee less popular, despite its environmentally friendly approach and minimal water use.

Stean’s Beans is in the possession of a coffee processing certification and right now we are experimenting with a natural processing method that uses the unique ‘Anaerobic’ fermentation method. With this method the beans are processed in an oxygen free environment, without the use of water. We want to create a naturally processed coffee that tastes as bright and clean as a fully washed one. Because we believe that it is essential to not only take into account the environmental impact on the places where the coffee is consumed, but also in the producing countries where the coffee is grown.

We are on a mission to ensure that the full supply chain, starting with a bean on the coffee tree and ending in the consumer’s cup, is as sustainable for the long term as possible. Though our experiments with naturally processed coffee might take time and investment we strongly believe that we will find a beautifully crafted and most importantly naturally processed coffee with a taste profile as clean and bright as any coffee that is fully washed.

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