Koji Process (Finca Gascón)
Only 12 x 4oz bags available. Pre-order by Sunday, July 10. Roast and ship on Monday, July 11.
Koji processed coffee is one of the wildest and most unique applications of fermentation we’ve come across. But first, let’s set the stage…Coffee is a fascinating industry. It’s a fascinating plant. It’s a fascinating beverage. And it all starts with the dense pit of a tropical cherry from a medium-sized shrub.
Once picked, the cherries must be processed in order to remove the pit. The two ends of the spectrum are the washed process (de-pulping right away and washing the pits) and the natural process (drying the pits inside the cherries). But the story is far more complicated than that.
Sam, our “coffee guy,” follows new developments in coffee processing very closely, specifically innovations in the fermentation process. Recently, farmers have been experimenting with specific ways of inoculating the fermentation tanks: fruits, yeasts, and spices. But in the last several months, a small number of farmers have done something truly unique: koji inoculation.
Koji is a mold grown on grains, a key ingredient used to produce sake, soy sauce, and miso. Apparently this mold is first mentioned in the Chinese text Zhouli (Rites of the Zhou Dynasty) in the year 300 BCE. It traveled a long way to end up inoculating coffee cherries in Guatemala…Felipe Contreras from Finca Gascón goes one step further, adding the koji spores to their fermentation tanks along with water, seemingly to control the temperature and PH level. Instead of imparting any specific profile to the coffee, it enhances the inherent qualities tied up in the coffee itself. The result of Felipe’s experiment is an overwhelming experience of fruit meets umami. Truly unique.