Washed, Dry, Natural, Honey, Pulped Natural, what do these mean? These all appear on Aveley Farms Coffee Roasters 12oz bags, so what are they?
These are processing methods in which the coffee you drink everyday is processed from cherry to bean. The method the coffee is processed ultimately has a big impact on the way your coffee taste. Let’s find out what each processing method is and which is your favorite!
Washed/Wet Processed Coffee
Washed or wet processed coffee is when the green coffee bean is separated from the cherry and soaked in a water tank before being laid on the drying beds.
Farmers have equipment called pulpers that allow them to strip the cherry skin and fruit away from the green coffee bean. After the cherries are depulped, the green coffee goes into the water tank for a controlled amount of time. This allows the fermentation process to start. The length of time each coffee remains in the water tanks varies depending on altitude, temperate and other factors. After this, the green coffee is washed and separated from any remaining mucilage on the coffee been. The green coffee is then laid out on drying beds until the desired moisture levels are met and then prepared for milling.
Washed Coffee is the most common processing method in the Specialty coffee industry today. It allows farmers to highlight single origin coffee profiles and desired cupping notes. One downside to the washed method is that it requires a lot of water. In some coffee growing countries where water is scare this is not an option, and other processes are used.
Natural/Dry Processed Coffees
Natural or Dry Processed coffee is when the coffee bean is left in the coffee cherry and laid out to dry on patios or drying beds.
Natural processed coffee is the original processing method founded in Ethiopia and is still practiced in regions with lesser water access. Dry processed coffees require less investment and resources than wet processed coffees, but do require more attention to the coffee cherries. If the coffee cherries are not tended to frequently it can result in under ripe and overripe cherries being mixed in with ripe coffee cherries, resulting in undesired cupping notes.
With this said, Dry Processed Coffees do have the potential to deliver some of the best tasting coffees in the world. If a dry processed coffee is tended to correctly, it can offer amazing fruit flavors and cupping notes. On top of this, natural processed coffees are more eco-friendly using less water and resources than washed coffees.
Honey Processed/Natural Pulped Coffees
Honey Processed or Pulped Natural coffees are a mixture between natural and washed coffees. Honey processed coffees are depulped of the cherry skin and a percentage of the fruit, but still leave some fruit and mucilage on the coffee bean. After this it is sent to dry on the drying beds.
Honey processed coffee was born from an experiment to produce high quality coffee with less water required than wet processed coffees. Farmers have come a long way since this experiment and now purposefully manipulate certain coffees to develop desired cupping profiles. There are several kinds of honey processed coffees including; red, yellow, white and black honey processed coffees. These coffees that started out as an experiment are now a mainstream in specialty coffee. Honey coffees tend to have an increased sweetness and body that offer complex cups.
Which Coffee Processing Method is Best?
Now that you have an understanding of coffee processing methods, it is up to you to decide what profiles you like best! I encourage you to seek clarification and ask questions to your Baristas and Roasters regarding the coffees they are serving. Done correctly, all methods offer world-class coffees. Farmers and roasters continue to work together on Micro Lots each harvest, and continue to push the boundaries of what coffee profiles can be developed!