CONTROL>> What's the story with the "Controlled Natural Process" version of Las Delicias currently available at Brown? Basically, it's these beautiful mechanical dryers shown here--known throughout Latin America as "guardiolas." Most natural process coffees are dried in the sun by humans and turned regularly--or semi-regularly, or kinda somewhat regularly, as the case may be--to aid in even drying, i.e., to avoid moldy taints from wet beans sitting too long without even exposure to the tropical sun. But distracted drying is sorta like distracted driving: it only takes a small lapse in attention to wind up in the proverbial ditch on the side of the road. Enter the mechanical dryer. It doesn't sleep. It never needs a coffee break or a potty break. It just does what it's supposed to do, which is gently and evenly tumble-dry coffee beans down to the perfect moisture level. Many producers poo-poo mechanical dryers as a somehow less "romantic" method of drying versus the iconic mill workers slowly raking patios of parchment in geometrically mesmerizing patterns. Others concede the superior consistency from guardiolas, but only use them on certain washed process coffees. (Operating expense is sometimes cited as a reason not to use guardiolas more; but most I've seen are fueled with a combination of last season's parchment and a few wood logs...not exactly a huge production cost.) But what if we ask a different question, namely, what would happen if we dried a natural process coffee lot in guardiolas instead of outside on a patio, subject to mother nature and said human distractions? What if we could mitigate one of the biggest problems so many naturals suffer from--that stemmy, unclean, semi-moldy taste running just beneath the surface that always reminds me of biting into a fruit I just dropped in the dirt...tastes that come from improper drying? Could a naturally sweet, fruit-forward coffee benefit from such a "controlled natural process" experiment? Our good friend Don Miguel Menendez agreed to try this for us this year with coffee from Las Delicias in El Salvador, one of our all-time favorite farms. We think he knocked it out of the park. What do you think?