Natural coffee processing, also referred to as the dry process, is coffee processing at it’s simplest form. Typically presenting more unique flavours, heavier body, and less acidity in the cup.
Rather than separating the beans from the cherries, coffee cherries are kept intact for the duration of the drying process. This allows for the bean to absorb flavours produced from the fruit, mucilage, and parchment layers.
During this time the beans are raked or rotated periodically throughout the day, they are then covered at night or when there is wet weather.
There is little investment required in terms of infrastructure however this process relies heavily on having appropriate climatic conditions to avoid the risk of mould etc.
Because of the largely human involvement, compared to the more mechanical processes such as washed, natural process comes with high risk of destroying a batch. There is also potential for the beans to be uneven with their flavour profile.
Having said that, natural process coffee that has received the right level of attention to detail is often ridiculously good! A prime example of that is from producer Guilherme Franco, who consistently produces lot after lot spectacular naturals.