What is 'Process'?
The term Process refers to how the bean is removed from the cherry. The way coffee is processed impacts the flavour profile you experience. Environmental factors such as rainfall and sunlight play an important part in how coffee farmers decide to process their coffee.
In this box we focus on two processing methods - Natural and Washed - used to extract the bean and develop flavour.
This is the oldest and most traditional way of processing coffee which was used in Ethiopia. Natural processing involves drying the cherry with its skin (mucilage) intact in the sun, the cherry 'raisin-ifies' around the bean. The complex flavours created by the cherry drying against the bean come through with every sip, natural coffees tend to taste more complicated than other processes with strong sugars and interesting dark but bright fruity notes, often resulting in fun contradictory flavour assessments .
It is also a lot more environmentally friendly as it does not require water to pulp the bean. Some people prefer this processing method as the bean has had more time to interact with the natural sugars from the cherry.
Washed coffees are dried without the cherry and mucilage (de-pulping). The aim is it lets you taste what's inside the bean. Both the origin and environmental factors play a huge part in the taste. This type of processing leads to bright and acidic flavours. The beans are soaked in water and fermented over 12-72 hours to remove all remaining berry and mucilage.
Following this they are dried in the sun often on raised beds. This process provides a bright, clean and crisp taste with clarity of flavour.
After being hand-picked the coffee cherries are pulped on the same day and fermented overnight. They are then washed with clean water and sun-dried for up to 2 days (48 hours), after which the parchment is mechanically removed and the beans left to dry in the sun until optimum moisture content is achieved.
Honey Processed (for reference)
This type of coffee is halfway between natural and washed coffee, the coffee bean is de-pulped but allowed to dry naturally without washing most of the cherry is gone but the remaining sticky mucilage is similar to honey - alas the name! This is a relatively unique way of processing coffee that requires attention to detail, when done correctly, Honey processed coffee will display the sweetness of natural coffee and the brightness of washed coffee with a nice balanced acidity. An eco friendly process also as it uses less water than traditional processing methods allowing for the dried fruit to be removed physically during the milling process.