RIP = Roasted In Parchment. Whose terrible idea was it to roast coffee in parchment? Oh wait, it was mine. And yes, we might have lost it on this one. It's as unusual as the Qishr (coffee skin) tea we have offered. RIP coffee is a name we came up with for "Roasted In Parchment," which is another of our crackpot ideas. But the logic is all there: after coffee is processed at the wet mill or the pulping station, it is dried in the sun. At this stage the coffee has its outer parchment shell on it; it is called pergamino in Central America. After it is dried down to 12% moisture content, the parchment coffee is rested in silos or bags for anywhere from 30-60 days. This allows the coffee to stabilize. In the parchment shell, the dried green coffee can be stored for much longer, and is more protected from temperature and humidity changes that damage cup quality. I had toyed with the idea years ago of importing coffee in parchment, and milling it here. You can store it and dry mill it right before shipping it to the customer. The logistics never made sense, and milling is expensive and dusty. Some time last year I was in my cupping room and on a whim I started roasting some samples I had of parchment coffee. I remember seeing women in rural Guatemala roasting parchment coffee on a wood stove. What would happen? I was really surprised by the cup. It was very different, not at all unpleasant. There was tons of body, an unusual maple syrup and cocoa powder taste. It seemed like I had blended coffee with something else, but I enjoyed it! I also found that the darker roasts were my favorite. So this year while traveling in Costa Rica I asked Juan Ramon at Brumas del Zurqui Micro Mill if they would ship us parchment coffee. They did, and with a twist: this is a mix of processes, wet-processed parchment, Yellow Honey parchment and Red Honey from pulped natural process. That means the fruit of the coffee cherry was left to dry on the parchment. Rather than the pale cream color of wet-processed parchment, this has a yellow-to-red tint to it and some spots of dried coffee mucilage. That fruit layer cooks during roasting and imparts a more rustic fruity note to the coffee. See the photos to know what to expect from the roasted appearance, a smorgasbord of colors! There are a few defect beans, or some not in parchment here - remove them before roasting. The dry fragrance, wet aroma, and cup flavors all have this fruit overlay, along with smoky campfire notes, and a pleasant woody flavor. There is a tea flavor too, rose hips, hibiscus flower, herbal. I like the darker roasts, when the darker beans have an exterior that is patchy and black. These remind me of good aged coffees, with inky dark roast flavor and unique smoky notes. On the flip side ...The light roast is especially like an herbal infusion. It's certainly a very odd cup of coffee, a hybrid. I prefer the darker roasts, but remember to check out my RIP Coffee Tutorial on roasting here:
Theoretically, there is more of a fire threat here, since the parchment layer means there is more combustible material in your roast chamber. Keep your eyes on your roaster at all times for this one. I seriously doubt we are going to start any trends here, but this is a unique chance to try a coffee roasting process you might not be able to see again, and a cup that resists easy description!