Right now as I write this, I'm sipping on our newest coffee Costa Rican Tirra Natural. I love naturally-processed coffees for their overwhelming fruitiness. It’s the consistent characteristic present in natural coffees which are also referred to as “dry-processed”, “sun-dried" or “unwashed.”
The processing method lends to this fruitiness. Coffee is a fruit. The coffee beans that we roast are actually seeds of a fruit—the one we call a coffee cherry. Whereas “washed” coffees have the pulp removed from around the seed during processing, natural coffees are sunbaked in their pulp and skins. It’s a rustic process but labor intensive—the coffee must be raked and turned frequently to prevent mold and infestation.
I like to think of natural coffees as akin to red wine—the skins are processed with the fruit. For me, sipping my first unwashed coffee was my first plunge into the rabbit hole of the coffee world. Natural coffees taste dramatically different from washed coffees. For this reason, we see a split amongst coffee drinkers: those that love naturals and those that do not.