All the Modern Ways Coffee is Processed

by | Jun 26, 2024

Coffee Beans during de-pulping and sorting phase

Exploring Coffee Processing Methods: From Washed Process to Carbonic Maceration and Beyond

Anatomy of a Coffee Bean

Coffee Processing Methods: From Washed to Carbonic Maceration and Beyond

Here is an extensive list of processing types which I will delve into more detail in separate blog articles. 

Washed (Wet) Process

    • Process: Coffee cherries are de-pulped to remove the outer skin, then fermented to break down the mucilage, washed thoroughly to remove any remaining fruit, and finally dried. This method focuses on cleanliness and clarity.
    • Flavour Profile: This results in clean, bright, and acidic with a crisp clarity that highlights the coffee’s inherent flavours without the influence of the fruit.

Natural (Dry) Process

    • Process: Whole cherries are spread out to dry in the sun, with periodic turning to ensure even drying. Once dried, the beans are hulled to remove the dried fruit.
    • Flavour Profile: Typically you will find fruity, full-bodied, often with sweet, wine-like notes and a heavier mouthfeel due to prolonged contact with the fruit during drying.

Honey Process

    • Process: The skin is removed but the mucilage (the sticky layer) is left on the beans as they dry. The amount of mucilage left can vary, leading to different variations such as yellow, red, and black honey processes.
    • Flavour Profile: As has been noted you can find balanced, with moderate acidity and enhanced sweetness, offering a middle ground between the washed and natural processes.

Pulped Natural Process

    • Process: Similar to the honey process, the skin is removed but some mucilage is left on the beans as they dry. Commonly used in Brazil, this method blends aspects of both washed and natural processes.
    • Flavour Profile: Balanced, with both body and acidity, often resulting in a smoother and sweeter cup compared to fully washed coffees.

Carbonic Maceration

    • Process: Coffee cherries are placed in a sealed tank filled with carbon dioxide, allowing fermentation to occur in a carbon dioxide-rich environment. This method is borrowed from winemaking and carefully controlled.
    • Flavour Profile: You will find complex, with pronounced fruity and floral notes, often resulting in unique and exotic flavour profiles due to the controlled fermentation environment.

Anaerobic Fermentation

    • Process: Coffee cherries are fermented in sealed, oxygen-free containers, creating an anaerobic environment that encourages different microbial activity compared to traditional fermentation.
    • Flavour Profile: Intense, unique flavours with pronounced acidity and complex characteristics, often highlighting tropical fruit and spice notes.

Yeast Fermentation

    • Process: Specific yeast strains are introduced during the fermentation process to control and enhance flavour development. This method aims to standardise and highlight particular flavour characteristics.
    • Flavour Profile: Often enhancing, with distinctive and controlled flavour characteristics, the fruity and floral notes.

Controlled Fermentation

    • Process: Coffee is fermented in carefully monitored environments using specific microbes. This method allows precise control over the fermentation variables to achieve desired flavour outcomes.
    • Flavour Profile: With this process you will find developed flavours, often enhancing specific taste notes such as fruitiness, acidity, and body.

Lactic Fermentation

    • Process: Fermentation occurs with lactic acid bacteria, which can be naturally occurring or added. This process is controlled to encourage lactic acid production.
    • Flavour Profile: Expect a creamy texture with unique acidity, often imparting a smooth mouthfeel and distinct, pleasant tartness.

Enzymatic Process

    • Process: Enzymes are added during processing to break down the mucilage more effectively. This helps in cleaning the beans and can influence the flavour development.
    • Flavour Profile: Typically taste enhanced sweetness and clarity, with a clean cup profile that highlights the coffee’s natural characteristics.

Molecular Fermentation

    • Process: Coffee cherries are processed at a molecular level, often using advanced techniques to break down the fruit and enhance specific flavour compounds.
    • Flavour Profile: Enhanced specific flavours at a molecular level, often leading to distinct and refined taste profiles.

Deep Fermentation

    • Process: Coffee cherries undergo extended fermentation periods, often in cooler temperatures, allowing deeper flavour development over a longer time.
    • Flavour Profile: Deep, complex flavours with a rich and layered profile, often highlighting earthy and savoury notes.

Hydro Honey Process

    • Process: Combines water immersion and honey process techniques, where cherries are partially submerged during drying.
    • Flavour Profile: Balanced sweetness and acidity, offering a unique combination of honey process body and water-processed cleanliness.

Cryogenic Processing

    • Process: Coffee cherries are exposed to freezing temperatures at certain stages to alter the chemical composition and enhance specific flavour notes.
    • Flavour Profile: Enhanced specific flavour notes through freezing, often leading to vibrant and distinct taste characteristics.

Soft Wash

    • Process: Coffee cherries are de-pulped and fermented with a shorter, gentler washing process, aiming to retain more natural sugars and fruit characteristics.
    • Flavour Profile: This process more common for high grade coffees where you will find a balanced, nuanced cup with preserved natural sugars and fruit characteristics, offering a delicate and refined taste.



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