I only started to drink coffee around 28 years old. This is a late start to the coffee game. My father doesn’t drink it, so that may be why I got the late start.

My path through coffee started with Peet’s Iced Mochas. I would get one most afternoons and became slowly addicted. Over time, I began to appreciate the taste of coffee better. At the time, I was in California, surrounded by some serious coffee roasters and shops.

Like many other interests, I became heavily invested in learning and understanding coffee. I slowly became a real coffee snob. I stopped adding chocolate, then even sugar or milk. I started drinking espresso. When traveling, I would try different coffee shops to find the best. In Portland, I discovered Coava and started drinking straight Espresso.

In Bozeman, MT, I had the most amazing Yirgacheffe coffee at Rockford Coffee, which had the most fruity flavor I had tried up to that point.

As I tried different coffees and regions, my knowledge grew. This is similar to how someone who drinks wine learns about the different grapes, regions, and wineries. Various regions of coffee beans have different tastes.

I have found that the process by which the bean is prepared for roasting seems to have the greatest impact on whether I will like the coffee, more than just the region.

There are three different processes these days for coffee (though one is a bit of a catch-all)

  • Washed
  • Natural
  • Anaerobic

This was a very lengthy setup to talk briefly about these processes.

Washed Process

Coffee is grown on a tree. The beans we use are seeds in a fruit that grows on the tree. Before beans are roasted, they are both removed and dried. The process refers to how this is done.

In a washed process, once the fruit is harvested, the beans are removed and washed from the fruit with water (hence washed) before they are dried.

Because the fruit is removed, the flavor of this process tends to be very traditional coffee—a little more chocolate to me. Traditionally, these coffees have a higher acidity.

Natural Process

In the natural process, coffee is allowed to dry with the fruit still on it before the fruit is removed. This process extracts more of the fruit flavor from the bean.

Natural coffees tend to have a more robust fruit flavor. Less traditional coffee flavor.

Anaerobic Process

In an anaerobic process, the coffee is put in an oxygen-deprived environment with additives to mix with different flavors. These coffees tend to gain a lot of flavor from the flavors they are put in contact with. They can have very strong flavors in addition to the coffee. Because there are many different things you can use to flavor the bean, the flavor of this coffee can vary quite a bit.

My Preference

I’m a very strong fan of Natural or Anaerobic coffees. I love fruit in my coffee. I have had some great naturals and even some watermelon anaerobic coffees.

My favorite local coffee shop, Simple Merchant, introduces me to many different coffees through its rotating espresso. I have consistently found that their Naturals are a much bigger hit for me than their Washed (and Jordan loves washed).

Many people do not like natural coffees. If you like traditional coffee flavor, you probably prefer washed coffee. Pay attention to the method the next time you purchase coffee to make at home.