Coffee Processing Methods - Washed, Natural & Honey Sun Dried

In India coffee cherries are processed in three ways, after harvesting the coffee cherries. The process followed by the farmer is based on available resources (water, electricity & labor).

Because of the Indian climatic conditions’ coffee harvesting is done only in one season; between November to January for Arabica coffee and December to February for Robusta coffee. Most of the coffee cherries are harvested manually (hand-picked) and this requires more labor as harvesting ripe & healthy coffee cherries is key! Defective or unripe cherries can have a big impact on the quality of the final cup.

Wet/Washed Method

Washed coffee showcases the true quality of the green beans as the focus of this process is solely on the inside part of the cherry.

After harvesting the cherries, they are soaked in tanks where floating cherries are removed. Next the cherry pulp is removed by using a pulp remove machine. De-pulped cherries then undergo a fermentation process where they are kept in tanks with water for 18 to 72. After completion of fermentation process beans are washed two to three times and then moved to the drying yard where coffee beans are dried under direct sunlight or under artificial shade. It takes about 7 to 10 days under ideal weather conditions for the beans to dry well. When moisture content reaches 10.5% wet processed coffee is ready for hulling, in this process parchment layer from the bean is removed and polish the beans.

This process because of its focus on what is inside highlights the real character of a single origin coffee like no other process.

What to look out for while having washed coffee – Clean, complex & vibrant notes.

Dry/Natural Method

After harvesting the coffee cherries, immature and defective cherries are sorted. Cherries are then dried directly under the sun with the fruit part intact. The biggest difference is that the outer skin & the mucilage are left on the beans while drying these cherries.

It takes 12 to 20 days under ideal weather conditions for the cherries to dry evenly. When the moisture in the cherries reaches 11.5%, they are ready for hulling. The outer skin and parchment layers are removed by hulling and polishing the beans.

Natural coffee is also the eco-friendliest as it does not use a lot of water to get processed.

Also Read: Easy Guide To Homemade Mocha Frappuccino

What to look out for while having washed coffee – Fruity & fermented flavors.

Honey Sun Dried (or HSD) Method

Honey Sun Dried process is a method where the fresh coffee cherries are de-pulped (outer skin is removed) but allowed to dry without washing the mucilage. Therefore, this process is considered to be half-way between a washed coffee and a natural process coffee.

Beans are dried under shade for 3 to 5 weeks based on the desired cup quality. There are further subcategories of HSD coffees called Yellow, Red & Black Honey Processed coffees. These differ in both the amount of mucilage left on the beans (yellow having the least vs black having the most amount of mucilage) & the time for which they are dried.

What to look out for while having Honey Sun Dried coffee – Fruity, complex mouthfeel & sweetness.