Ever look at a bag of coffee and wondered what it means when it says washed, honey, natural, pulped? Have you ever thought why does it matter? Or will this really impact the flavor of the coffee? The answer is YES! This thing called processing does matter! It can make your coffee taste terrific or terrible! So what is processing, and how do these different ways of processing impact the cup of coffee you're going to drink?
Processing is the method of how the fruit of the coffee bean is removed. There are three major types of processing which include natural, honey, and washed. Now, let's dive into these three!
The natural process is the first one we will be discussing.
This process is the oldest processing, having it’s origin start in Ethiopia. In this process the coffee cherries are laid out on a patio out in the sun until the fruit around the bean is completely dried out. Once the cherry is dry the fruit is removed and the only thing left is the bean. When this process is done right, it creates some of the most flavorful coffee. Although this process is the most eco friendly and disrupts the bean the least, there are still some issues that may arise in this process. If the coffee fruit is not rotated correctly it might cause the fruit around the bean to rot or brown which can impact the flavor of the coffee.
The next process is the washed processed. The washed process is a very common process to find from most places. The washed process is a process in which the flavor profile of the bean is most clear. They start by depulping the bean from the fruit. The bean is then placed in fermentation tanks for 18-24 hours to break down the mucilage (slimy layer around the bean) around the bean. After the 18-24 hours the beans are washed to stop the fermentation process and dried. This way of processing solely focuses on the bean, and highlights the flavors of single origin coffees. One potential issue with this process that can happen is the bean not absorbing enough natural sugars from the fruit creating a not so pleasant taste.
The last process to talk about is the honey process. The name honey process comes from how sticky the beans are during this process. The honey process is very unique where the fruit is depulped, like in the washed process, but instead of fermenting to get the mucilage off, they lay it out to dry like in the natural process. There are varying leaves of honey processed coffee depending on how much mucilage is left on it. This coffee tends to be intensely sweet, but this sweetness might overpower the other flavor notes the coffee might have.
Whatever your coffee region preference might be, try a different processing method! Each one creates totally unique coffee, and can really enhance the bean itself! And if you want to start check out our shop page of our website!
Daniel and Krystjan