600 hours fermentation, are we making coffee alcoholic again?

600 hours fermentation, are we making coffee alcoholic again?

 Arabic poets used the word "Coffee" hundreds of years before discovering coffee! They signified an alcoholic drink, a special kind of wine!

While coffee enthusiasts are pushing industry boundaries, sometimes you question the nature of that floral, aromatic, light brown drink in your cup. 


Behind Sydney town hall, another historic building engulfs a hybrid store. Selective fashion pieces hung on one wall, and One Piece anime projected on the other! China Country Club is an aesthetic space with a luxury fashion shop fusion with a state of art cafe!

A terrarium with a single almond croissant! Two V60 brewers and three single origins coffee to treat yourself. One of the coffee cards read:


600 Hours Carbonic Maceration - Colombia


The hook line worked! I ordered that coffee with the orphan croissant. 

 Steven, the friendly and well-experienced barista, manually brewed my coffee. Gently put the coffee on the mahogany table. I was reading the coffee info card, and he saw my coffee curiosity sparkle in my eyes. He explained how Carbonic Maceration is a winemaking technique to make fruitier notes and soften tannins. Progressive coffee makers place cherries into a sealed drum. CO2 flooded into the barrels, kicking out all O2 before fermentation kicked in. Then cherries are left fermenting for three and half weeks (600 Hours)!

The aroma hit my face with non-stopping notes. I took the first sip and was bewildered with so much happening in my ballets and brain! "Am I drinking coffee or fine wine? Are those powerful notes alcoholic?!


I spoke with my friend and coffee processing guru Marty Pollak about this. Marty is a co-founder of Torch Asia and has a mission to elevate china's coffee quality and consumption. 

Is fermenting coffee for 600 hours produces alcohol, how about adding Yeast? 

  • Yes definitely! During the fermentation process, alcohol will be produced, which is even true of normal fermentation, with or without Yeast.
So it is an alcoholic drink?
  • The alcohol in green coffee will not remain in roasted coffee because the volatility of alcohol is very high. The molecular weight is meagre. It expands and goes in the air. Even if you soak beans in brandy or rum and then roast it, they will come out with zero alcohol because the boiling point of alcohol is much lower than the roasting temperature.

What if you drank that cherry juice on the bottom of the barrel?

  • I didn't try it before, but you will probably get drunk :)


The difference between coffee and wine is that we won't drink that cherry juice. We drink the roasted bean juice. I was relieved I did not drink and drive from the city that day. 

Adding Yeast and months of fermentation will not make your coffee wine. But is it still coffee? How about adding lime to that processing barrel or maybe a couple of cinnamon sticks? Will you still call that beverage coffee?


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