A New Innovation for Coffee – Enzyme Fermentation Creates a Healthier Brew
For centuries, humans have devised various methods to process, roast, and brew coffee beans. In recent years, coffee fermentation has gained popularity, and new ideas and approaches have emerged in the coffee industry.
These days, coffee farmers are investing significantly in fermentation to increase market prices, create unique flavors, and develop "specialty coffees." Similar to liquor fermentation and winemaking, coffee beans undergo a transformation during fermentation.
What are the Pros and Cons of Drinking Coffee
Generally speaking, coffee is known to have various positive effects on the human body, as it contains antioxidants. Consuming coffee can potentially prevent and lower the risk of developing cancers and diseases, as well as improve cognitive performance. Coffee is even known to have anti-aging effects and contributes to weight loss.
Although coffee is ubiquitous in society today, it does have some drawbacks. When discussing coffee's disadvantages, there are generally five points to consider. First, one drawback of coffee is its bitterness, mainly derived from caffeine. The effects of caffeine can strain the heart as we age, and patients with certain conditions, as well as pregnant women, are encouraged to avoid coffee due to its caffeine content.
Second, the half-life of caffeine is usually around four hours, and drinking coffee in the late afternoons or evenings interferes with sleep, especially as you age. In general, older people tend to lose more sleep, but coffee can exacerbate sleep issues for everyone, regardless of age.
Third, regular coffee has a pH of 4.6, and if you drink large quantities of coffee daily for extended periods, it can affect the stomach's normal digestive environment, disrupting its acid levels. The bitter taste of coffee can also irritate the stomach and may cause reflux and indigestion.
Fourth, because coffee is roasted at high temperatures, the oils in coffee seep out to the outer wall of the coffee beans. If not stored correctly, the oils can become rancid. This is why it is recommended to consume coffee beans within 2 months of roasting.
Fifth, mold is commonly found on coffee beans during the production process, creating mycotoxins such as aflatoxin and ochratoxins. These are carcinogens and can contribute to cancers in the human body. Other carcinogens such as benzopyrene and acrylamide are also produced during coffee roasting, threatening our health.
An Attempt to Ferment Coffee
Due to the shortcomings above, many people avoid coffee, even if they enjoy drinking it. It has also become quite common these days for people to quit drinking coffee altogether. As a result, there is increasing demand for healthier coffees, and there are some attempts by coffee brands to minimize the side effects of coffee. But currently, the main purpose of fermenting coffee is not for a healthier brew but to develop fruity-flavored specialty coffee beans.
Kopi Luwak coffee is the pioneer of coffee fermentation. Kopi Luwak coffee is very expensive and rare because Civet Cats eat coffee cherries and ferment the coffee beans in the intestines before defecating the beans in their fecal matter. Rather than collected from the wild, most Civet Cats are put in a cage and forced to eat coffee cherries, leading to unsanitary conditions and animal abuse.
Since then, Black Ivory coffee has also emerged, involving feeding coffee cherries to elephants, and the coffee beans are collected from digested feces and processed.
A Deeper Dive into Coffee Fermentation
Fermented food, one of mankind's greatest inventions, was created as a way to preserve food for long-term storage while transforming the food with microorganisms to make it easier to digest. Organic acids produced by fermentation also improve flavor, maintain the homeostasis of intestinal microorganisms, and inhibit the proliferation of harmful bacteria.
Currently, there are many ways to ferment coffee. For example, anaerobic fermentation is very popular these days, and typically, Yeast, Lactobacillus, and Bacillus Subtilis are used. Although coffee fermented with these methods has appeared on the market, many have disappeared not long after launching. The reason being, these types of fermented coffee beans are accompanied by an unpleasant odor, which persists after roasting. This is caused by fermenting coffee beans with yeast as well as adding enzymes and amino acids after roasting.
The Birth of DAYES Enzyme Fermented Coffee
There is a type of fermented coffee that stands apart from all others—fermenting coffee with enzymes. DAYES Enzyme Fermented Coffee was created with the purpose of making coffee healthier. I developed a special interest in food and health in my career as a cancer researcher. I accumulated 20 years of research experience in Korea, Japan, and the United States, focusing on prostate cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, and leukemia. I also conducted research on cancer prevention with ingredients from green tea, fruits, and vegetables.
Throughout my career, I became interested in fermented coffee and fermented tea. By chance, I encountered an enzyme complex developed in Japan for preventing human diseases at Henna Biotech, Korea. After this discovery, I began fermenting coffee with herbal medicines such as the Meshima mushroom. Not long after, I devoted myself earnestly to the development of enzyme fermented coffee.
The idea of enzyme fermented coffee was to produce a healthy coffee with a moderate amount of caffeine, safe (low in carcinogens and mycotoxins), and tastes delicious, gentle, and smooth. Surprisingly, we found that caffeine decreased significantly during our fermentation process with the enzyme complex. We also found that it played a role in blocking mycotoxin contamination and succeeded in commercializing the production of low-caffeine coffee. After fermentation, the coffee even became easy to store and had a long shelf life.
The Process of Enzyme Fermentation in DAYES Coffee
What exactly are the enzymes used in DAYES Enzyme Fermented coffee? It is an enzyme complex made from 50 different symbiotic bacteria, consisting of Bacillus sp., Lysin Bacillus fusiformis, Bacillus sonorensis, Lysin Bacillus sp., and Comamona sp. These enzymes are effective for activating natural immunity and subsequent lymphocyte immunity without being damaging to cells. It should be considered that DAYES enzyme fermented coffee is the only such coffee in the world, and currently, no one can easily reproduce this patented enzyme complex.
The process of coffee enzyme fermentation is as follows. We first coat premium green coffee beans with the 50-enzyme complex, then stir them constantly at a set temperature for a certain period, removing the fishy and astringent tastes of the green beans. This improves the coffee's flavor, making it smooth and gentle while removing the caffeine by about 85% compared to regular coffee, reducing stress on the cardiovascular system.
Our enzyme fermentation process is much shorter than that of any other type of coffee fermentation. It is highly efficient because all steps are completed within a few hours. In addition, the oils in the green beans do not easily become rancid because they have been broken down by the enzymes, making it possible for the coffee beans to be stored at room temperature for a long time.
Benefits of DAYES Enzyme Fermented Coffee
DAYES enzyme fermented coffee is able to make up for the five main shortcomings of coffee as well as transform the flavor of the coffee beans.
First, the caffeine content in the coffee is reduced by 85% compared to regular coffee. As such, the coffee is less bitter and much smoother. Compared to other healthy coffees on the market, DAYES coffee does not have an odd odor despite being a fermented food. In fact, DAYES Coffee actually smells and tastes like regular coffee, with no hint of it having a fermented flavor. The fermentation brings out several taste notes in the coffee blend, including the sweetness of dark chocolate and brown sugar, as well as a licorice taste and even a mild tropical fruit note.
Another feature of DAYES enzyme fermented coffee is that its acidity is close to neutral, at a pH of 6.4 compared to regular coffee which has a pH of 4.6. This means DAYES Coffee is gentler on digestion, and people with sensitive stomachs may find it is less irritating on their gut.
While the shelf life of regular roasted coffee in the existing market is generally 2-3 months, enzyme fermented coffee is well preserved for up to two years; making it easier to store for a much longer period of time. In fact, the aging that occurs during the storage period deepens the flavor and softens the taste.
Although DAYES Coffee is low in caffeine, this is achieved without the use of solvents or chemicals. Most decaf coffee (except Swiss Water Decaf) has its caffeine extracted by soaking the beans in a chemical solution. Although this brings down the caffeine level for decaf coffee to 3-5%, much of the original flavor of coffee is stripped away, and the chemicals used in the process can be a concern for health. The 15% caffeine level found in DAYES Coffee is just enough caffeine to give you the positive effects of caffeine without overloading your body, making it easy for most people to enjoy coffee, such as the elderly, pregnant women, or those with heart conditions that need to limit caffeine.
By utilizing bio-enzyme technology, DAYES Coffee officially launched enzyme fermented coffee on the market in 2020, marking an innovative milestone in the 1,500-year history of human coffee production. DAYES Coffee is currently sold in Korean and North American markets, steadily gaining popularity while garnering consistently good reviews from coffee enthusiasts.
Other Types of Healthy Coffee on the Market
It's important to note that there are many coffee products on the market where an ingredient is added to the coffee beans to make them healthier, such as adding vitamins, mushrooms, probiotics, and more. While there may be potential benefits, it often alters the flavor of the coffee, making it no longer as enjoyable as the real thing.
At DAYES Coffee, the enzymes in the fermentation process are killed off during the roasting process. When enjoying enzyme fermented coffee, you are tasting pure coffee that does not have added ingredients. The only change is that the actual elements of the coffee itself have been transformed through fermentation.
On another note, no matter how many healthy ingredients are added to the coffee, the coffee beans themselves can also carry some harmful carcinogens. Dark roast coffee is roasted at high temperatures for longer periods than medium or medium-dark roast coffee. As such, dark roast coffee has a bitter and burnt flavor. Some people associate this with a good, strong cup of coffee. But processing foods at high temperatures creates harmful substances such as benzopyrene and acrylamide, defined as carcinogens by the World Health Organization.
This is why at DAYES Coffee, we never roast our enzyme fermented coffee past the Full City (medium-dark) level. We want to minimize the presence of these carcinogens in the brew and, in turn, produce a gentle, smooth coffee that’s less bitter on the palate.
Conclusion: Coffee’s Future
Coffee is the second most popular drink in the world (after water) and the most common antioxidant food consumed by Americans. It has become an essential part of people’s diets, and many big corporations are battling it out to control the coffee market. Giants like Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, Folgers, and Maxwell House are iconic brands that have been around for decades.
However, as people gain a deeper understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of coffee, more are learning about what they are drinking, and smaller specialty coffee brands are gaining momentum in recent years.
Furthermore, coffee roasters have delved deeper into innovative methods that transform the typical cup of coffee into something that’s healthier and more suited to our lifestyles, with fermentation becoming a growing trend.
At DAYES Coffee, we look forward to learning more about new fermentation methods and will continue to research, innovate, and develop new coffee blends that are not only delicious but also suited for people’s healthy lifestyles.