Named Metro's best new coffee roaster in 2013, Thrillist's top coffee company of the Bay Area in 2015, consistently praised and featured on Sprudge and highly rated by Coffee Review, with 514 5-star ratings and an average 4 star rating on Yelp, Chromatic Coffee can be found in a variety of cafes and specialty grocery shops across the wider Bay Area and Pacific Northwest, and proudly fueling innovation behind the scenes at many of the top tech companies in the world.
Our aesthetic leans light and lively, with roasting profiles carefully designed to showcase the natural beauty and complexity in each variety and cultivar we select. The team culture is plucky, inclusive, and DIY. We source carefully and locally when possible (sadly the local California climate is ill suited to coffee cultivation). We hot-stamp and pack our own bags and maintain our own machines. We constantly seek new innovations (notably, our Radio series, fine-tuned to the specific makeup of the local water supplies) and ways to contribute to our community (Throwdown Thursdays were a regular part of our early years, hopefully returning soon; we are pleased to be in partnership with Kartma and Recovery Cafe).
Processing methods are at the core of our interest of what coffee can be. Coffee processing is arguably the most important stage responsible for a coffee's flavor. There are many philosophies and opinions about what correct processing is, so we obviously have a few opinions ourselves, and you can taste it more than anything. From the purist outlook, seeing the fullest expression of the coffees terroir and how a cultivar is influenced by its surroundings shows the true transparency of all the nutrients and minerals and best practices. Humans can only interfere with the coffees quality with this mind-frame, and even though the best way to show the coffees purity of flavor is by forcibly removing any aspect of fruit and mucilage as to isolate the seed for further drying, grading, shipping and roasting. This purist approach is where wet process (or washed process) is most preferred for it's ability to focus purely on the inherent qualities of what it is, and where it comes from.
We try to run the gamut in every scope and scale of coffee processing to showcase what we love and what we represent. the marriage of tradition and innovation, the valley of heart's delight, and silicon valley. Coffee drinking is changing, and we're right there, not just on the beat, but trying to pave the path moving forward with our own contributions to the industry, weather it be cthe coffee itself with our hards on, boots on the ground approach with producers on the fields and mills, or back home thinking of new ways to serve our favorite product and creating future focused equipment and machinery.
With that, we will review some terminology and list the processing methods (because of the recent innovations in processing, we're also going to categorize the processes, and provide some alternative names) We'll also break down the parts of the coffee fruit. Get ready, it's biology class:
From the inside out:
- Coffee Seed: this is that golden bit, not a bean at all, just a seed, beaming with potential.
- Silverskin: This is what becomes chaff, and roasters need to scoop this out of their machines. Silverskin is a thin layer which directly covers the coffee seed.
The Traditional Methods:
Dry Process: The simplest, most straightforward conceptually, but can also be the hardest for some to execute. Often, the term dry process can be used interchangeably with "natural" process.
After harvesting the ripe fruit, the fruit is laid out to dry on concrete patios, like they do in Brazil, or on rooftops, like in Yemen, or they could be laid out on raised beds like they do in Ethiopia.
Wet Process: This is also known as "washed" process, and uses lots of water. We have typically avoided the term washed because it could imply other processes can be "dirty" when that simply isn't the case and it's more about "washing" all the fruit stuff away.
After harvesting the ripe fruit, the fruit is rinsed off of any debris and soil from the trees and the field. it is then moved to a piece of machinery called a de-pulper (or confusingly enough; a pulper) to have the skin removed. That skin can then be dried into cascara. As for the slimy coffee fruit this is where it can go to be either honey o r continue onto being washed. after de-pulping, the slimy beans are still covered in a very fibrous mucilage that is very challenging to mechanically remove (but not impossible), so typically leaving them to "ferment" in a large tank (typically a concrete silo, preferably tiled for cleanliness) for 12-72. The duration depends on environmental factors and temperatures. typically the coffee is not submerged under water, and can develop lots of heat from multiple chemical and enzymatic reactions. The idea is to only breakdown the mucilage enough so that parchment bean can later be moved through canals with water to knock off whatever remainder mucilage there is to then move the washed parchment to drying patios, raised beds, or even mechanical dryers (none of the coffees we purchase are mechanically dried, we strongly feel that heat at this stage of the process lowers cup quality).
Honey Process: also sometimes called pulped natural (in Brazil because there isn't the ferment or washing).