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Coffee Processes

Updated: Oct 22, 2020

"Washed Process"

Also known as the “wet process”. Washed process involves the removal of the outer skin of the cherry and mucilage(the sticky substance that surrounds the seeds and gives coffee its sweet flavor), and then submerging the seeds in water where a fermentation process removes the remaining flesh, the fermentation takes 1-2 days, or sometimes longer. After hours of fermentation the seeds are washed again 2-3 times before drying. Drying time will depend on the weather, it can takes up from 1-2 weeks until the internal moisture reach about 11%.

The fermentation releases the sugars and amino acids within the mucilage layer. This is what creates the delicious flavor of coffee, typically result is a more complex profile and cleaner cup. Of all the coffee processing methods, the washing method is the most common and often produces the highest quality coffee.

"Natural Process"

Natural process, dry process, natural sun-dried, or unwashed all refer to the same method of processing. The whole coffee cherries are dried in the sun, sometimes on raised beds and sometimes raked into a single layer on patios, once the cherries have been dried and the internal moisture level reach about 11% no higher than 12%, they are sent to the mills to separate the seeds from the dried cherries fruit, known as being “hulled.” The process can takes up to 30 days depend on the weather.

This extended contact between cherry seed and fruit results in a much fruitier coffee. Sometimes in citrusy characteristics, other times with intense berry notes, pulpy flavors, often describe as “winey” can also have a strong nutty and/or chocolaty characteristics, a heavier or a syrupy body.

"Honey process"

Is a method in which coffee cherries are picked, sorted, depulped, then have their skins removed without washing off the sticky-sweet outer layer of the fruit (mucilage of the coffee cherry is sticky and slimy, so it is sometimes called “honey”) then dried. The processor spreads the coffee beans to a thin layer on patios for 10-15 days to gain the needed stability.

Honey process coffees tend to have a striking sweetness. This is due to the amount of time the beans get to spend with the mucilage, those caramelized sugars seep in during fermentation and drying.

This process is includes yellow, red, and black styles. This indicates the amount of light the coffee gets exposed to during drying. The yellow honey process coffee is turned more often to encourage drying, red and black are turned less often. It is the length of that drying process which allow the coffees to develop more or less fruity flavors.

The result of the honey processed coffees are a pleasant middle ground when it comes to flavor, the coffee is sweet, smooth, complex, and have good clarity, medium-high acidity, have a heavier body.

"Semi-washed Process"

Also known as the ‘wet-hulled’. Semi-washed coffee is specific to Indonesia. It is different from any other method in the world, it involves fewer steps than the fully-washed method.

Once ripe coffee cherries have been picked, the cherry skin is removed, but the mucilage remains on the parchment and is sun-dried. Once the coffee has reached approximately 30-35% of moisture, it is put through the hulling process(wet hulled) to remove the parchment layer(the reason this is done is because of the high humidity in Indonesia, so by removing the parchment skin earlier than usual, the beans are more exposed to the air and therefore dry quicker). At this point the beans are still at high moisture content, the processor then spreads the coffee beans to a thin layer on patios to enter the second drying-phase until internal moisture reaches about 12-13%.

This process is most common with smallholder farmers in Indonesian growing regions like Aceh, Sumatra and Sulawesi. There also seen similar methods used in remote areas of Central and South America.

The semi washed similar to washed process, exhibiting a bright, clean cup with low acidity, fuller body, and often described as earthy.

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