top of page

We CAN spell anaerobic...

Updated: Mar 13

Recently, on reviewing our internal material, it became apparent that we'd struggled in the past to spell the word "anaerobic". We saw various versions on a theme - aenorbic, aenaeobic, aenorbic … we're not pointing any fingers internally but suffice to say the offending speller has subsequently spent some time in solitary confinement. We also thought of slowly reducing the oxygen levels in the cell (geddit?!) to really get the message across but that was against some kind of Health and Safety regulations … as well as various employment laws. More importantly, our internal marking processes now include a spell check step … who knew?!

But all of this then led us to wonder whether we all know what "anaerobic" means within the coffee production process. Knowing how to spell it is one thing - knowing what it means is another.

So here goes. As with all things coffee related - there are various methods. But each method is basically riffing on the same theme. The green coffee beans are placed in a water tank which is sealed. Lactic-acid bacteria are introduced and allowed to do "their thing" for anything from 8 hours to a week. Since the coffee beans and bacteria meet in an environment that is lacking in oxygen (they are under water for Pete's sake!) - that is why it's called anaerobic. Without oxygen. Aerobic means with oxygen.

As a side note - anaerobic activity in your muscles leads to a build-up of lactic acid and why we suffer from "cramp" if that activity is prolonged. Which is why you get cramp after a long period of activity. Your body just cannot get enough oxygen to your muscles - and so they begin to operate anaerobically - and thus produce lactic acid - and thus cramp.

But we digress - back to the coffee beans that are under water. They meet and begin to ferment and it's this anaerobic fermentation in the water tank that leads to the coffee beans producing more acidity (lactic acid) and it's this lactic acid acting on the beans that brings out more complex flavours within the beans - sugars, fruitiness, honey notes. The acid promotes and enhances the natural sugars, fruits, botanicals that lie within the beans. As we said - with all things coffee there are variables upon variables upon variables. When dealing with natural processes - nature takes its own course and is very difficult to truly replicate time after time. You're never sure what will happen until you try it. That is the beauty - and frustration! - of coffee roasting. Basically - when you find one you like - stick with it!

We use anaerobic "beans" in our flagship Armada and our seasonal Christmas blend. See if you can identify the anaerobic bits … good luck!


bottom of page