Methods of Processing Coffee Beans

After coffee is harvested, it is put through one of several processing methods in order to separate the bean from the fruit. There are 3 main techniques that are used, with each technique providing varied results and taste.

Dry Process

This process can also be called ‘natural process’ or ‘unwashed’, as the once the coffee cherries are harvested they are sorted and laid out to dry in the sun for days, even weeks. Sometimes a machine is used after the cherries are sun dried, just to ensure the coffee is properly dried. Coffee processed using this method typically carries a smooth flavor and full body.

Semi Dry Process

The semi dry process is a slightly newer method of bean processing, and is most commonly used in Brazil and Indonesia. It is sometimes referred to as ‘semi-washed’ or wet hulled’. During this process, the coffee cherries are mechanically removed by way of a pulping machine before the mucilage is then washed off and the beans laid out to sun dry. This process can result in a coffee that is more earthy in taste, mildly-acidic, and has a heavy body.

Wet Process

During this process, the pulp is first washed off the cherries to reveal in the inner bean, which can help reduce the acid present in the coffee. The beans are then dried. Most high end retailers and coffee shops prefer this method because it can produce a very well balanced coffee that is vibrant and low in acidity.There are 2 different common ways to complete this process:

  • Ferment and Wash Method: Here, the pulp is broken down by microbes when the cherries are fermented. Basically the fermentation process breaks down the cellulose in the pulp to reveal the coffee beans. Then, the cherries are washed to further separate them from the pulp.
  • Machine Assisted Wet Processing: Here, the cherries are mechanically scrubbed in order to release the coffee beans.