(Also called Natural Process or Sun-Dried Process)
In this process, the cherries are picked and then laid out to dry onto the seeds. In doing so, the sugars within the skin and interior fruit ferment the seeds, and once completely dry, the desiccated cherries are sent to a dry mill for processing and sorting. This form of processing is popular in Ethiopia, Yemen, and Brazil, though we sometimes find natural, sun-dried coffees from other parts of the world, like our annual and highly coveted ‘Perla Negra’ from Las Lajas in Costa Rica. Naturally processed coffee often tastes like blueberries or strawberries with a smooth, jam-like body.
(Also called Washed Process)
First, the cherries are placed in a water bath where any unripe or defective fruit floats to the top and is separated. Coffee that floats is often sold on the domestic market as sub-specialty. The remaining cherries are put through a process called pulping, where coffee cherries are run through grinding dics to remove the skin and most of the pulp. The seeds, still covered with the silverskin, parchment, and a little pulp, are then soaked in a water bath to break down the remaining sugars, leaving clean, green coffee, in parchment, ready to be dried.
Drying is typically done on patios, in mechanical driers, or on screens on raised drying beds. While drying, the seeds are regularly and strategically turned, allowing them to dry evenly.
Once dry, the seeds are milled to remove the parchment and silverskin, then sorted for size, density, and defect. Sorting is typically done both mechanically and by hand. Some coffees are sorted up to 3 times! It takes an incredible amount of work to perform this important task.
Washed coffees tend to be more consistent in size, density, and shape than naturally processed coffees. Some would also argue that you are tasting more of the bean, instead of the fruit. Though flavor can vary tremendously, washed coffees tend to be higher in acidity and more likely to have delicate flavor profiles.
(Also called Pulp-Natural Process)
Like washed coffees, the cherries are first placed in a water bath where any unripe or defective fruit floats to the top and is separated, often to be sold on the domestic market as sub-specialty. Next, the cherries are milled, but the blades of the mill are calibrated to remove only the skin of the cherry, leaving behind more of the pulp than in washed process. Then, the seeds are dried in the pulp, typically on a patio.
This process is a bit of a hybrid between the dry and washed process, with many farms experimenting with varying degrees of honey process. For example, a “black honey” coffee might mean more of the fruit is left on the parchment to dry, while a “white honey” coffee has nearly all of its fruit removed prior to drying.