Short Answer: Yes, coffee is natural depending on how it is processed.
In fact, it is considered a naturally occurring alkaloid.
Caffeine, the main component in coffee, is sourced from 60 different species of plants including kola nuts, cocoa beans, tea leaves, and coffee beans. Other sources of caffeine include yerba maté and guarana berries.
That said, coffee is definitely natural!
To prove how natural coffee is, I have compiled some important information that would make you appreciate coffee even more.
If you’re up for it, let’s begin!
Is Coffee Healthy or Not?
Coffee at its purest is a healthy beverage.
Other health benefits that you can gain from drinking coffee includes:
- improved physical performance
- can help burn fats
- improved energy levels
- lower the risk of developing depression
- may protect against cirrhosis
However, take note that apart from the health benefits that you can gain from drinking coffee, it can become dangerous if overconsumed.
In that sense, you should keep your consumption within the recommended limit.
Why Is Coffee Bad For You?
Coffee can be bad for you if consumed in large quantities.
Certain groups of people such as those with caffeine sensitivity, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and children should be careful in drinking coffee.
Too much caffeine can affect the baby’s growth and development in pregnant women. It can also be dangerous for children, and worst-case toxic.
In addition, too much coffee can lead to the following side effects:
- digestive issues
- rapid heart rate
Even though coffee is sourced naturally, it is important not to overindulge from this beverage to avoid the side effects and to reap its maximum benefits.
Is Coffee Natural or Processed?
That entirely depends on the producer.
The coffee processing method can either be washed, natural, and honey or pulped natural process.
To decide which process to use, producers often wait to see how much rain has fallen.
The natural process is not suitable if there’s too much rain as coffee cherries are going to split. On the other hand, the honey or natural process is ideal if there’s no rain as sugar will not be washed away.
Other producers use refractometers to determine the sugar content and decide if it’s good enough for the natural or honey processes.
Moreover, the washed process is historically popular in Rwanda and Central America, while honey and natural process are known in Brazil.
Also, occasionally you’ll come across some coffees that are marked natural process which involves drying the coffee beans just after picking them.
That way, the coffee bean is in contact with the coffee cherries longer than the traditionally processed coffee.
To capsulate, coffee can either be natural or processed depending on how the producer wants to process it.
Is Natural or Washed Coffee Better?
It’s a matter of preference!
I can’t really say natural is better than washed or the other way around. Both have pros and cons but the coffee world tilts toward the side of washed coffee.
With specialty coffee, washed is preferred over the natural process because of the acidity level.
It turns out that naturally processed coffee doesn’t have consistency in flavor. The taste can either be fruity or berry-like which puts off a lot of coffee drinkers.
Take note that not all producers can make washed coffee beans but most can create natural coffee.
To help you decide which coffee process is better, think of where your favorite coffee is grown.
I love Ethiopian coffee, so my preference at the moment is the natural process!
What about you?
Coffee Processing Methods
Natural, washed, wet-hulled, and honey process are amongst the most common coffee processing methods which affect sweetness and acidity.
There are different ways of how seeds are removed from the coffee cherries which is referred to as the coffee processing method.
It is essential to know that these methods can affect the flavor of the seeds while it’s being roasted and turned to a coffee bean.
To expand, watch this short clip!
The natural process, also known as dry processing is the traditional way to process coffee that originated in Ethiopia. It involves drying the freshly picked coffee cherry with the seed still inside.
This process is done by taking out all the coffee cherries and have them usually placed on raised drying beds under the sun.
It will take 3 to 6 weeks for the coffee to ferment and producers have to rake the cherries and rotate them to prevent spoilage.
Natural coffee is fuller-bodied with strawberry and blueberry flavor and has complex tasting notes due to the time spent in developing its flavor.
The washed process is the opposite of the natural process as seeds are taken out before drying them with the use of depulper.
After de-pulping, the seeds are placed in a tank full of water to have them washed and finally dry out in sunbeds.
This method is also considered environment-friendly as the water from the tank can be reused by rebalancing the pH level.
Washed coffee has crispier tasting notes compared to natural coffees. Also, it’s lighter bodied and brighter due to cleaner acidity.
I think washed coffees are as fruity as natural coffee with tasting notes that are easier to identify and differentiate.
Wet-hulled processing is popular in Indonesia which involves storing the cherries in plastic tanks rather than having them transferred to sunbeds to dry out.
Wet-hulled allows for a speedy and efficient process as drying time is less compared to other coffee processing methods.
Wet-hulled coffees are heavily bodied, savory, chocolatey, and nutty-perfect for a blended roast!
This method involves the combination of washed and natural methods which is considering rare and demanding.
However, with this method, you’ll come up with a very nice cup of coffee with similar flavors that you can get from washed and natural coffees.
The honey processing method is done by de-pulping the seed from the cherries before drying them. The seeds do go into the water to get rid of the mucilage.
The mucilage, which honey is referred to remains on the seed while drying it out. After it’s dried, the remaining mucilage determines the sweetness of the seed.
Also, it is important to rake and rotate the seeds to prevent molds.
In my experience, honey processed coffees have varied and complex flavors. One thing I’ve noticed is the syrupy sweetness and more pronounced acidity.
How Much Coffee A Day Is Healthy?
4 to 5 cups of coffee a day is healthy!
The FDA recommends consuming not more than 400 mg of caffeine per day which is roughly 4 cups of brewed coffee.
However, the amount of caffeine you can ingest depends on some factors such as tolerance, level of activity, and physical condition.
Overconsuming coffee can lead to the following symptoms:
- fast heartbeat
- frequent urination
Although caffeine overdose is very rare, you should know that its toxic effect such as seizure could manifest especially when you consume 1200 mg caffeine or 0.15 tablespoon of pure caffeine.
Why on Earth would someone consume such a massive amount of caffeine? Duh?
Final Say (Is coffee natural or not?)
Technically speaking, the main source of coffee, caffeine comes from natural sources such as tea leaves, guarana, coffee beans, and many other plants.
That said, we can definitely say that coffee is considered natural, depending on how it is processed.
There are several coffee processing methods producers use to create the perfect beans for your coffee.
And the natural process is one them!
The natural process is the traditional way of processing coffee which is known in Ethiopia.
Natural coffees have complex tasting notes due to the length of time it took to develop their flavor. But overall, it’s a great-tasting coffee that can definitely give you a morning lift.
So, go on then. Enjoy your delicious cuppa!