The Impact of Coffee Processing

If you ever look closely at a coffee bean description on our website, you will come across terms like "washed" or "dry" processing. But what exactly is processing in coffee and why should you care? In this post, we will discuss the different coffee processing methods and how it impacts your coffee.

How Coffee is Farmed

 Coffee is farmed similarly to most other crops. A seed is planted, within a few years the cherry develops, and then it is picked when the time is ripe.
Once it is picked, it must immediately be processed to avoid spoilage. Processing is the method of removing the layers of skin, pulp, mucilage and parchment that surround the coffee cherry.
The coffee cherry must dry out until the moisture content drops to around 11%.Additional steps are taken based on the method of processing before the beans are finally ready for export.

Natural/Dry Processing Method

 The dry processing method involves simply taking the picked cherries, laying them out in the sun, and letting them dry out for several weeks. To prevent spoilage, they are raked and turned throughout the day. The pulp, skin, mucilage and parchment are all left on in the initial drying phase.
This method has been done since coffee was first harvested and has the benefit of using less water than the Washed method.

Water/Wet Processing Method

 The water/wet processing method removes the pulp from the cherries so that only the parchment skin is left intact. The cherry is then separated by weight through water channels, so the lighter beans float and heavier ripe beans sink to the bottom. The beans are then placed in a water fermentation tank for up to 48 hours so the mucilage can be removed. Then the beans are set to dry to a moisture content of 11% before eventually being milled.
The washed method is the most popular method of coffee processing as its less labor intensive. Farms that could afford to invest in the equipment found they could process higher volume of coffee with less defects using this method.

Honey Processing Method

 This method falls somewhere in between natural and washed methods, and doesn't actually use any honey. In this method, some of the pulp of the cherry is removed before the cherry is dried.
The advantage of this method is it uses less water and is less temperamental during the fermentation process.

How it Impacts Flavor

 Ok, this is the information you really want to know. 
Natural processed coffees tend to be fruitier and very intense because the coffee is encased in the cherry for longer. The sugars are infused into the seed during the drying processed, which leads to incredible sweetness, body and berry-like flavors.
Washed processed coffees are more light and brighter with higher acidity and nuttiness. This method is more familiar to coffee drinkers. 
Honey processed coffees are creamier than a washed and a bit fruitier like a natural. The method is most popular in Central America.
It's amazing how much every step of the process from farm to cup impacts the flavor. But its important to highlight these steps so you know how much of our enjoyment of coffee comes from the farms themselves.

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