For coffee lovers, there is nothing quite like a good cup of joe. The rich flavor and aroma of freshly brewed coffee is enough to wake even the sleepiest of individuals up in the morning. But have you ever wondered how that delicious cup of coffee comes to be? It all starts with the coffee bean, and more specifically, how that bean is processed.
There are two main types of coffee processing methods: wet and dry. Within those two methods, there are sub-methods that can produce different results. However, there are now many more types of processing including honey and experimental processing. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the different types of coffee processing so that you can better understand how your favorite cup of coffee is made.
Wet processing is also known as the washed method. Wet processed coffees are typically cleaner in taste and higher in acidity than their dry processed counterparts. This is because wet processing removes the fruit from the coffee bean before it is dried, allowing for a more consistent flavor profile.
The first step of wet processing is picking, where only ripe coffee cherries are selected by hand for further processing. Once the cherries have been picked, they are then pulped in order to remove the outer fruit from the bean. The beans are then fermented in water for 12-48 hours in order to remove any remaining pulp residue. Finally, the beans are washed and graded before they are placed on raised beds or patios to dry in the sun.
Dry processing is also known as the natural method. Dry processed coffees tend to be heavier bodied with lower acidity levels than their wet processed counterparts. This is because dry processing leaves the fruit on the bean while it dries, resulting in a deeper and more complex flavor profile.
The first step of dry processing is picking, where only ripe coffee cherries are selected by hand for further processing. Unlike wet processed coffees, which are pulped at this stage, dry processed coffees have their outer fruit left intact. The cherries are then placed on raised beds or patios to dry in the sun until they reach an internal moisture level of 10-12%. Once they have reached this moisture level, they are hulled in order to remove the outer fruit from the bean. The beans are then sorted and graded before they are ready to be roasted and enjoyed.
The Honey Process
The honey process is a newer coffee processing method that falls somewhere between the washed process and the natural process in terms of flavor profile. Coffees that undergo the honey process have a syrupy body with muted acidity and sweetness similar to honey. The honey process begins like the washed process with cherries being sorted by ripeness and then placed into a depulper where the flesh of the cherry is removed from the bean. However, instead of fermenting the beans, they’re immediately placed onto raised beds to dry in the sun until they reach 30-40% moisture content. Once they reach 30-40% moisture content, they’re hulled and polished before being sorted and graded.
Coffee processing plays a major role in determining the final flavor profile of your cup of coffee. The two main types of processing methods—wet and dry—result in coffees that taste different from one another. If you’re looking for a clean tasting coffee with high acidity levels, look for a wet processed coffee. If you want a heavy bodied coffee with lower acidity levels, go for a dry processed coffee instead. No matter which type you prefer, you can’t go wrong with a freshly brewed cup of java!