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Coffee Processes- From Cherry to Bean

‘Processing’ coffee, simply means the method used to retrieve the coffee bean from within the cherry. There are different ways of achieving this and new methods are being experimented with all the time. This might seem a bit pointless if the only aim is to simply get the bean out- however the method of processing used actually affects the flavour of the coffee. So it makes sense that people are trying to see what new flavours and profiles they can discover as a result of processing.

 The main methods currently used are the washed (or sometimes called wet) process, the natural (or dry) process and more recently, the pulped natural (or- semi washed process).

Washed Process

This process begins with all of the harvested cherries being placed in a tank of water. Ripe cherries will sink to the bottom, and any cherries that aren’t ripe or may be rotten, will float to the top. This allows the unsuitable cherries to be separated and removed. The ripe cherries are then pulped- this is where a machine is used to remove the fruit from the coffee bean, which removes most of the pulp but leaves a small layer just around the bean.

 

This remaining pulp is either mechanically washed away; or the fruit is fermented, leaving just the bean with a layer of material called parchment (Because it resembles parchment paper once dried) surrounding it.

The beans are then dried in indirect sunlight to about 10% moisture, and are hulled- which is the process to remove the parchment. This leaves the green coffee bean ready to be exported and roasted.

Washed process coffees tend to have cleaner, acidic flavours with usually less sweetness; as the fruit pulp- which provides sweetness in certain coffees- has been washed away. Therefore washed process coffees are often though to give the “true” flavour of the coffee bean.

Natural Process:

No water is used in this method of processing coffee, therefore often countries with less rainfall and therefore less water usually use it.

This means that the coffee cherries have to be sorted by hand to remove the defective or unripe fruits.

The cherries are then spread out on drying beds to dry out, they are turned frequently and inspected for any defects. This can take up to 3 weeks! The beans are then hulled to remove the now hardened pulp casing.

This remaining pulp is either mechanically washed away; or the fruit is fermented, leaving just the bean with a layer of material called parchment (Because it resembles parchment paper once dried) surrounding it.

The beans are then dried in indirect sunlight to about 10% moisture, and are hulled- which is the process to remove the parchment. This leaves the green coffee bean ready to be exported and roasted.

Washed process coffees tend to have cleaner, acidic flavours with usually less sweetness; as the fruit pulp- which provides sweetness in certain coffees- has been washed away. Therefore washed process coffees are often though to give the “true” flavour of the coffee bean.

Natural Process:

No water is used in this method of processing coffee, therefore often countries with less rainfall and therefore less water usually use it.

This means that the coffee cherries have to be sorted by hand to remove the defective or unripe fruits.

The cherries are then spread out on drying beds to dry out, they are turned frequently and inspected for any defects. This can take up to 3 weeks! The beans are then hulled to remove the now hardened pulp casing.

Next they are dried, with some of the pulp still remaining on the beans. Once this is complete- they are processed to remove the remaining pulp; and hulled to remove the parchment.

The main methods of experimentation are controlling the amount of pulp left on the beans to see the effect on  flavour- this is called honey process and there are many different varieties of honey processed beans- depending on how much pulp was left for the drying process.

The flavour from pulped natural process coffees are somewhere inbetween natural and washed process coffees. They often have some fruitiness with a well rounded acidity. But with honey process coffees the flavours vary greatly.

 Our Sidgwick coffee is a natural process coffee, which has the characteristic fruitiness of natural coffees; Try some here

Our Trinity coffee is a washed process coffee, so you can really taste that clean acidity. Try some here


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