New Coffee from Sunchang beans
When coffee harvesting comes into mind, most of us imagine coffee beans being grown in vast fields in countries other than Korea.
That's the most common way, but Korea's Sunchang County has its own way of doing things,... as our Cho Sung-min reports.
These greenhouses are specially made to grow coffee beans.
The beans stay warm overnight thanks to the small vinyl boxes that provide heat when the sun does down.
This whole process is pretty unusual when it comes to coffee. But for the folks of one county in Jeollabuk-do Province,... this way of harvesting is nothing new.
After all, Sunchang is most famous for its red pepper and soybean pastes -- they've just brought that fermentation method into the coffee game.
"Sunchang County is well known for its fermented pastes. We thought we could create something special if we applied this method to coffee beans."
Fermenting coffee beans isn't a totally original idea. But the method was discredited for being financially counter-productive.
What researchers at the Sunchang Agricultural Development & Technology Center were able to do was tweak the process.
They took into account a plethora of scientific experiments... and found that injecting lactobacillus into beans resulted in something they could work with.
"We took about a thousand coffee samples and conducted experiments using lactobacillus, and we came up with three coffee beans that had a taste and scent similar to traditionally-brewed coffee."
A manufacturing test was done in a factory that makes soybean paste... which shows that the way the coffee beans were fermented is exactly the same as the traditional pastes.
And just like soybean pastes, tests showed the process trimmed the amount of caffeine... while increasing the number of disease-fighting bacteria.
Sunchang County has put some of the product to the test on the market... in the form of beans and powder patches.
More development is needed before fermented coffee hits the stores, but the county looks forward to making waves in the domestic market, which is worth nearly 400 million U.S. dollars a year.