Coffee Processing

Coffee Processing

Once a coffee cherry has been picked from the tree, the beans inside need to be separated from the rest of the fruit. There are several different ways to achieve this and the method used will have a big impact on the taste and flavour of the finished coffee. Here's what to expect.

 

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WASHED (WET)

After picking, the skin of the cherry is removed leaving the beans covered in mucilage. The coffee is then placed in large “fermentation” tanks of water to soak for between 12-76 hours – this breaks down the mucilage layer, which is then washed away with clean water. Washed coffees tend to have a higher acidity, and greater clarity of flavour, however it can require expensive equipment, more labour and uses a lot of water.

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NATURAL (DRY)

In this method, the whole cherry is placed on cement patios or raised wire racks and allowed to dry in the sun. When the cherry has dried and shrivelled the outer layer is removed using a hulling machine. During this process, the bean absorbs a lot of the sugars and creates a coffee with very fruity flavours and a heavy body but lower acidity. It can also be more susceptible to picking up defect fermented flavours.


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PULPED NATURAL (HONEY PROCESS)

This is a hybrid of the Washed and Natural processes. First the skin is removed, leaving just the mucilage, the bean then dries in the sun and becomes very sticky. The coffee will not have the same acidity as a fully washed coffee, but does have a clean taste and the fruitiness of natural coffees.