Three Methods of Processing Coffee
The flavor possibilities of one’s coffee drink start long before adding in any milk, sugar, or syrups. For one, the country and region of cultivation impact the tasting experience of coffee drinkers. Another critical factor is the way the coffee beans have been processed. The beans are seeds of the cherries that grow on the coffee plant, which must be removed and dried before any roasting or drink-making occurs. There are three principal ways of doing this, each with its own characteristics. Between the most common methods of wash, dry, and honey processing, every method has a unique hand in the aroma and essence of the final cup.
As washed coffee focuses solely on the plant’s bean from the beginning, rather than incorporating the cherry fruit as a whole during the drying phase, the bean must be in optimal condition. This means that the bean must have had a highly successful growing season, enough to possess the needed nutrients and sugars for proper taste. As such, many factors are crucial for washed coffee to come out properly, including soil quality, ripeness, and fermentation.
This method creates a distinct flavor from other processing alternatives. This shows that environmental factors and the hand of the farmer play a role in the final taste. Many modern specialty coffees sourced from one area go through this washing process, as it highlights the distinctive characteristics of its origins. When done correctly, the careful washing process can allow consumers better to detect the subtleties between regional cultivations and plantations.
On the other hand, dry processing, also referred to as natural processing, retains the whole coffee cherry for the duration of drying in the sun. This lets the whole fruit, including the bean, dry intact, allowing the bean to absorb fruity notes to a greater degree. Optimal environmental factors and farming expertise are crucial for the fruit to be able to dry properly. In order to avoid flavor inconsistencies, those harvesting and processing the coffee must be able to differentiate between ripe and unripe fruit browning at the same time. When only the developed ripe fruits are gathered, this method has the potential to give life to the unique flavors of all processing options. The aroma and taste clarity so coveted in washed coffees can also be achieved with drying when done with precision. Apart from this, drying in this way also lends its own specific benefits to enhancing and tweaking notes, like creating an outstanding level of sweetness. This method is the most environmentally conscious, primarily known for its avoidance of water usage and pollution.
This processing option takes elements of the above two methods to create its characteristics. The pulp of the coffee cherry is removed first; then, the fruit is left to dry sans washing. As less of the fruit remains, the fruity flavors imbued in dry processing are much stronger than those of honey processed varieties. However, the sticky, viscous, and honey-like mucilage is left intact, lending an intriguing texture, sweetness, and depth to the final product.
This method is able to provide varied flavor profiles through the production of different shades of mucilage "honey." This includes white, yellow, gold, red, and black varieties. The lighter options, white and yellow, are usually washed mechanically and have the least mucilage remaining of the shades, with yellow retaining a little more than white. These lend themselves to a "cleaner" taste experience when used in regular filtered coffee. Gold, red, and black coffees with darker shades are conversely known to work best in sweet, full-bodied espressos. This is especially true for black. The differentiation between the three is based on the amount of exposure to light and the time dried. Slower drying, more shade, and more humidity produce black honey coffee, while less leads to red, and even less produces gold.
Purchasing from Fatemi Coffee is the best way to enjoy natural, quality Yemeni coffee and support small farming families in the process. Check out our website today to try our natural process products for rich and tasty coff