There are 3 general coffee processing methods: Washed Process, Natural Process, and Pulped Natural Process.
Coffee cherries are put through a pulping machine, removing the skin of the cherry, leaving only the pulp attached to the coffee bean. The coffee beans are then placed in water to ferment for 24-48 hours. Following this initial soaking, any residual mucilage that hasn’t yet fallen off is then washed off. After the coffee has been washed clean, it’s then placed on raised sun beds and allowed to dry in the sun for one week. Coffee processed in this method typically possesses clean, high detectable levels of acidity and transparent complexity in the cup.
Also known as “dry processing”, the natural process is the oldest and the most traditional way of processing coffee. Originating back to Ethiopia and Yemen, after the coffee cherries are harvested, they are placed whole on to sunbeds and sun patios to dry. Coffee processed naturally have gained notoriety over the years due to the signature high viscosity body detected in the coffees processed by this particular processing method. In contrast to the “bright” characteristics found in wet processed coffees, naturally processed coffees present a more rounded acidity and unique complexity.
Pulped Natural Process
Also known as “honey processing”, pulped natural processing is often the most difficult and demanding process to execute. The coffee cherries are first pulped, leaving just the mucilage attached to the bean. The beans are spread out evenly onto large drying tables and are allowed to dry for 1-2 weeks with the mucilage still attached to the bean. This particular process is highly practiced in Brazil and several regions of Central America. Variations include white, yellow, and red styles, which are defined by the percentage of the skin or mucilage left behind after pulping, and allowing to remain attached to the beans while drying. Honey processed coffees typically have a high viscosity body and are acclaimed for their low to mild balanced levels of acidity.