Once coffee is harvested, it then goes through a processing method before roasting and sale. During the process, the beans are removed from the raw fruit itself. There are 3 main techniques that are used, with each technique providing varied results and taste.
The dry process can also be referred to as the ‘unwashed’ or ‘natural’ process. After the coffee cherries are harvested, they are sorted and laid in the sun to dry. Sometimes the cherries are also machine dried after laying in the sun for several days to ensure even drying. Sometimes this process takes weeks, as it’s important to ensure the cherries are free of excess moisture. When this process is carried out properly, it can result in a smooth flavor and heavier body.
Semi Dry Process
This method is a bit of a newer method, and is most commonly used in Brazil and Indonesia currently. It can also be referred to as ‘wet hulled’ and ‘semi-washed’. In this process, the coffee cherries are mechanically removed by a pulping machine, the mucilage is then washed off, and the beans are laid out to dry. This process can result in a coffee that is more earthy in taste, mildly-acidic, and has a heavy body.
In this process, the pulp is washed off the cherries to reveal the beans. Often, this process is used to reduce the acidity in a coffee. This process can be performed in 2 ways:
- 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.
The beans are then dried. Many high end gourmet retailers prefer this method because it can produce a very well balanced coffee that is vibrant and low in acidity.