If you’ve come into the shop and chatted with our baristas, you’ve probably heard them talk about the different ways of processing coffee. We think processing is one of the best topics in specialty coffee because it’s constantly innovating and it rests in the hands and knowledge of the farmers. There are multiple ways of processing coffee, each with many different facets, but we think learning about the three main ways of processing is the best place to start.
Naturals (our favorite) are produced when the entire coffee cherry is placed on raised beds in the sun in order to dry. During the day, they are turned to ensure even drying without rotting. Typically the drying process for a natural coffee takes anywhere from 3-6 weeks. Some level of fermentation occurs through the natural sugars in the coffee cherry. This results in the complex, fruity, and full-bodied coffees we love to drink.
Honey processed coffee sits in between a natural and washed process. The fruit is removed, but the mucilage closest to the bean is left intact. The coffee is then dried with the mucilage still on it, which is then removed after drying. Honey processed coffees are named because the mucilage left on the coffee is honey-like in color. These coffees are often tea-like in mouthfeel with a mellow, floral sweetness.
A washed coffee is produced when the fruit is removed from the bean before drying. The beans are washed to remove all of the mucilage, and then the coffee bean is dried. Washed coffees are known for a clean mouthfeel with straightforward flavors.