Posted on 30/09/2022
Originally, people allowed coffee to dry in the sun with their fruit part intact until it was ready for milling. Today, you will find some washing the coffee after they have removed the fruit and then drying it. The method is predominant and the fastest.
Hybrids between the drying and washing exist, which are the natural pulped, honey process and the black honey process. Regardless of the method applied, the processors have to mill or hull the coffee to remove the last layers of the skin, which protect the inside beans.
What is honey-processed coffee?
The honey coffee process is the hardest and most demanding coffee processing method. The processor has to start by pulping the coffee and then spreads it out for drying without any washing to leave part of the pulp. The processor spreads the coffee beans thinly on special drying beds and turns them after every one hour for 10-15 days to gain the needed stability.
The result is usually a coffee with fine elegant attributes associated with the high-end washed coffee coupled up with substantial fruit and body sweetness of the natural coffee. In Central America, this process is refined and includes yellow, white, black and red styles. The processors base the grouping on the percentage of flesh they leave on the coffee bean after pulping and the drying process.
Does honey processing involve honey?
Honey processing does not involve any honey. The honey has to do with the amount of mucilage the processor leaves on the coffee parchment. The more mucilage the processor leaves, the more honey the coffee will have. The honey processing method is similar to the widely known washed coffee process, only that it does not involve some of the processes associated with the washed process. Different coffee growing regions of the world will have a different name for this process. For example, Sumatra calls it the wet hulling process.
The processors use the ripest cherries only, which they pick and sort to get the highest grade. They then pass the cherries through a pulper that splits the skin and uses centrifugal force to force the coffee beans out. Instead of directing the beans to the fermentation tanks and the washing channels, they leave them to dry with various mucilage amounts still intact. They use a mechanical demucilager to set the amount of mucilage to leave on the beans.
After the processor has attained the target level of mucilage, they spread out the coffee on patios for drying. They constantly turn and rake the coffee to eliminate the chances of rotting and fermentation – the turning reduces the moisture amount to the needed 10 – 12 percent.
At that point, the coffee beans will have the appearance of candied nuts – that is where the phrase “honey process” comes from. The processor has to store the coffee beans until they are ready for distribution.
The result of this process is sweet, smooth cups of coffee with huge mouthfeel in addition to muted acidity.