Coffee processing refers to the way that a seed is removed from a coffee cherry. Like any other pitted fruit, coffee cherries have a seed, pulp, mucilage around the seed, and protective skin. There are various methods to remove the seed from that cherry, and these methods affect the seed’s flavour as it gets roasted and turned into a coffee bean—this flavour sticks around till the final brew.
These are two experimental methods of processing:
What is carbonic maceration?
In the case of this uniquely processed coffee, the coffee is placed in closed tanks for 48 hours following the carbonic maceration process. Commercial yeasts and cold water are added to regulate microbe activity. After depulping, the coffee is dried in mucilage (a.k.a. the “honey process”) over four weeks, with the coffee going through multiple stages of drying. This method can be extremely difficult and challenging but many farmers have mastered the art of this experimental process.
What is honey processed coffee?
The cherry must be pulped and a sticky layer of fruit (called mucilage) has to be removed. This method involves allowing certain percentages of that sticky mucilage layer to remain intact on the coffee seed, and then it’s allowed to dry that way. This is what we call “honey processed” coffee. The term “honey” refers to the sticky layer of fruity mucilage that almost looks like clumps of honeycomb. Honey Processed Coffee, requires constant monitoring to avoid over-fermentation and mold developing. This method of coffee processing is a lot more common compared to carbonic maceration but once again is extremely experimental and requires lots of time and attention.