Coffee Processing: What You Need To Know
There are many different factors at play that determine why coffee tastes the way it does. One of the most important determinants in this is the post-harvest processing. Goshen Coffee carries a range of coffee processed through a wide variety of methods. Read on to learn all about coffee processing, the varieties we carry, and our focus and values when it comes to processing.
Types of Coffee Processing
There are innumerable different ways to process coffee. Producers all across the globe use different processing techniques, sometimes because of the traditions of their region, and sometimes simply for the sake of experimenting and trying something new. Below are a few of the most common processing methods from around the world.
Washed, otherwise known as the Wet Process, is focused more heavily on the coffee bean itself than many other methods. It begins with the skin or skin and pulp being removed from the fruit once it is harvested. Depulped coffee is then held in fermentation tanks, while demucilaged coffee is moved to a drying surface. The Washed Process results in a clean, crisp flavor profile and sweetness that is caramel-y or sugary.
The Natural Process is also known as Sun-Dried or the Dry Process. In this case, the skin and pulp is actually removed from the seeds after drying. This can be a challenging method to see consistent outcomes from, but when done well, coffees made with the Natural Process tend to be noticeably fruity, and have a relatively heavy and syrupy body.
With the Honey Process, the name actually comes from how sticky the beans get during processing, not from the taste of the coffee it produces. The fruit skin is removed very soon after harvest, and then the seeds are left to dry for 18-25 days. The end result is a coffee with some nuttiness, fruity or jammy flavors, and burnt-sugar sweetness.
Wet-Hulled can also be called the Sumatra Process. The fruit is depulped, and fermentation actually begins as soon as the fruit has been harvested. When using the Wet-Hulled Process, it takes around 2 weeks to dry. These coffees are earthy, savory, and herby.
The Brazil Natural process is another one in which the skin and pulp are not removed until after drying. The drying is typically done on patios, and can take 12-15 days. Brazil Natural coffees tend to have a heavy mouthfeel, and flavors reminiscent of boozy fruit, toasted nuts, or toffee.
Only the skin is removed right away in the Pulped Natural method. The fruit dries on a patio for 10-15 days and results in coffee that has medium-low acidity, a body that is syrupy or creamy, and pulpy or nutty characteristics.
No matter which process above is used, coffees can also be processed for decaffeination. This occurs after the rest of the coffee processing, and usually can only occur in specialized facilities. Currently, there are no genetically decaffeinated coffees, meaning that any decaf you drink has had the caffeine physically removed from it.
It is important to note that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to coffee processing. These are merely general frameworks many producers follow.
Goshen Coffee carries a range of gourmet coffee created with a number of the processing techniques described above.
Our washed coffees include selections like the Colombia, Ethiopia, and Guatemala blends. They are all washed and then dried in different ways: in parabolic dryers, on raised beds, and on patios, respectively.
A couple of our Secret Stash blends are natural coffees. The natural process really brings out the strong flavors in both. For the Ethiopia Seka Forest-Orange Natural coffee, it results in an astonishingly fruity flavor. And for the Colombia La Paz-Natural Lot, the natural process results in a coffee that tastes like dark chocolate-covered fruit.
The earthy and herbal Sumatra blend is processed using the wet hulled method. The wet hulling process really serves to deepen and bolden the flavors in this coffee.
Our Brazil blend is (fittingly) the only Brazil Natural style coffee we currently offer. After being pulped, it is then sun dried and later moved to mechanical driers. It offers up a honeyed cocoa aroma and a beautiful sweet candied nut finish.
When it comes to trying new methods and getting creative with coffee processing, usually only larger, more well-established coffee producers have the money and resources to really push the envelope and try new things. Small scale producers do not tend to have the ability to get as creative with their processing methods.
Here at Goshen Coffee, our focus is primarily on working with small scale producers. We are committed to building relationships with these producers, paying them higher premiums, and ensuring the highest quality coffee year after year. For that reason, much of the coffee we sell is made with the standard processing methods listed above.
The major exception to that is our Secret Stash offerings. When it comes to the Secret Stash, we want to offer up the most interesting and unique coffee blends possible. For these offerings, our priority is on creativity and what makes the coffee especially interesting.