We’ve looked at different ways that coffee is grown (shade vs sun) but the processing of coffee beans is just as important, especially when you talk about organic coffee. Each plantation chooses its own way to process the fruit of coffee plants called cherries. Some even develop their own ground-breaking processes to reduce the impact on the environment, speed up the procedures or maintain the natural flavour notes in the beans.
Types of Coffee Processing
Although this process sounds self-explanatory, there is actually a lot that goes into it; in fact, there are actually two ways to wet/wash your coffee cherries!
1. By machine!
This may conjure up images of robots but don’t get too far ahead of yourself, this process uses a machine to scrub away at the old bean, cutting out the fermentation step. Then the squeaky clean cherries are laid out for a little sun baking or popped in another machine to dry them until they reach a mere 10% water content. Why 10%? A fairly dry cherry means no mildew or crumbling, preserving the integrity of the coffee bean. Following the drying process, the flaky exterior of the bean is carefully stripped away by yet another machine or even by hand, ready to be stored, packed and shipped.
Cherries are soaked so farmers are easily able to pick the good from the bad. Then the skin is removed gently by a machine and beans are soaked once more – this time in a natural enzyme /bacteria solution that dissolves any sticky stuff left on the cherry. Like the machine process, the beans are then popped out into the sun to dry out the skin for easy removal.
The beans processed with this technique have a bright, clean, fruity taste with beautifully balanced acidity.
Fans of the semi-dry method claim that this process maintains the natural body of the bean while reducing acidity. When processing cherries, farmers skip the fermenting stage, choosing to pulp their cherries in a machine. Then it’s time for the cherries to have a well-deserved rest for 24 hours where they pop up their feet and binge watch some Netflix. Then it’s bath time where the sticky exterior is washed off then the cherries are left to dry in the sun until they reach 30-35% water content.
The result of this technique is sweeter than their wet processed counterparts. These beans exhibit a heavy bodied, earthy with less acidity.
Sacred Grounds Beans & Processes
All of our coffee beans are 100% organic, Fairtrade – all that good stuff, but how are they processed?
Ethiopia Limu – Washed
Ethiopia Yirgaheffe -Unwashed – October to March / Washed – August to December
Nicaragua – Washed
Papua New Guinea – Washed
Peru – Washed
Sumatra – Natural