Today we’ll learn more about the two main ways to process coffee, known as washed and unwashed coffee. We’ll also explain the characteristics of a hybrid between them, the honey process. Keep reading to discover what these processes are and how they impact the flavor of the coffee you consume.
The Unwashed Process
In order to understand how coffee processing works, it’s important to remember that coffee is not actually a bean but a pulpy fruit.
Also called natural process, or dry process, the unwashed method is the most ancient and traditional. In this case, the coffee cherry is harvested and set out to dry intact, with the bean and the pulp separated only at the end of the process.
This method produces coffee with stronger fruit notes and has the advantage of using little water, but the results are uneven, and excessive fermentation and sourness are not unusual.
The Washed Process
As its name suggests, water plays a very important role in the washed process. First, coffee is harvested and de-pulped mechanically. At this point, the beans are still covered in a layer of pulp (called mucilage), which is removed by fermenting the beans in water tanks. Ripe cherries sink to the bottom and underripe cherries float to the surface and are removed.
This process involves a considerable amount of water and produces coffee or more uniform quality than unwashed coffees, making it the dominating choice in the world of specialty coffee.
The Honey Process
This is a hybrid that shares characteristics of the other two processes. As with the washed process, coffee is harvested and de-pulped, but instead of fermenting the beans, they are set out to dry while still covered in mucilage, which resembles a golden layer of honey.
Also called pulped natural method, this process was developed in Brazil in the 1980s and has been embraced and adapted by coffee producers in Central America.
In some cases, honey coffees offer the best of both worlds: a smooth beverage with round notes of fruit. These coffees are divided into yellow, red, and black categories, which indicate the amount of mucilage left on the bean.
Learn More About Coffee
Read these previous posts to learn more about the fascinating world of coffee:
- What is single origin coffee?
- Basic coffee concepts: Arabica and Robusta coffee beans
- What is a coffee blend?
- Single origin coffee from Mexico: everything you need to know
- Single origin coffee from Mexico: an essential guide
- Single origin coffee from Ethiopia: everything you need to know
EcoDelight, High-Quality Coffee in San Jose, California
At EcoDelight, we are high-quality coffee in San Jose, California. With the accumulated experience of five generations of coffee producers behind us, we are the ideal choice when it comes to single origin coffee in the Bay Area.
We offer a wide array of blends and single origin coffees to satisfy the most discerning tastes.
Contact us today by telephone (707-344-3316), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or through our social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter) to place a custom order, become a distributor, or learn more about our passion for all things coffee.