A guide to coffee processing methods

Washed coffee? Natural coffee?

How do processing methods affect my coffee? 

Processing is the method of removing the fruit from the coffee bean after they have been picked, and is as integral to crafting the taste of your coffee as the growing region and roast.

The three most popular processes you’ll taste are Natural, Washed and Honey coffee.

What is Naturally processed coffee?

This is the oldest method of processing coffee and is popular in dry climates. The whole coffee cherries are spread out on raised surfaces and left to dry. Only after drying are the exterior layers of fruit removed from the coffee bean.
Coffees processed in this way are often have sweet, dried fruit flavours.

What does Washed coffee mean?

This 19th century method involves removing the fruit from the coffee bean before drying - through mechanical ‘depulping’ to remove the skin then resting in water-filled fermentation vats, where naturally occurring enzymes cause the rest of the fruit to dissolve.
The flavours of washed coffees are described as bright and clean.

What is Honey coffee?

Honey processing is popular across Central America. Though effort is made to remove some of the fruit from the coffee bean before drying, some flesh is purposefully left on during the drying stage.
This gives coffees a typically sweet and floral flavour. 

Any more?

Yes! There are plenty of other ways of processing coffee that you may come across. As consumers create demand for new and intriguing flavours, farmers are encouraged to try more experimental processing methods. Increasingly you'll see frozen processing, anaerobic fermentation (fermented in oxygen-free  environment) and carbonic maceration (fermented in a carbon dioxide-rich environment) on the labels of your coffee.


What does an anaerobically processed coffee taste like?

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