A debate has been going on in Colombia and around the world since the early days of the specialty coffee movement at the end of the 1990s: Do wild-fermented coffees produce better-tasting cups than coffees that have been put through a demucilager without any formal fermentation phase? This debate is far from settled, but research by
It is clear that wild and controlled fermentation processes add time and labour to coffee processing, and the large concrete structures required are bulky and expensive to build. However, it is no longer a choice for producers between using wild fermentation or a demucilager — recent developments mean that it’s possible to do both. One exciting innovation seen in the developments of Juan Rodrigo Sanz Uribe and Cenicafé is the adoption of fermentation silos: A miller can choose to process coffee using a range of different fermentation methods and still benefit from the labour-saving and pollution-reducing technology of a demucilager. By using fermentation silos, a miller can conduct several processes simultaneously and then simply feed the parchment into an eco-pulper after the fermentation phase has finished.