Coffee Processing Methods.. what we know about?!

Dubai, January 16, 2024(QW)- Coffee processing is a crucial step in the journey of the coffee berry. Different methods unveil distinct flavors, take varying durations, and involve different efforts. In this article, we explore the primary processing methods: natural, washed, honey, and wet-hull.

Initially, coffee processing was merely about extracting beans from cherries. Manufacturers chose methods suitable for their climate without much thought to taste. However, it became clear that processing greatly impacts the cup’s taste. For instance, under similar conditions, washed coffee tends to be more acidic than natural coffee. Understanding these differences is the focus of this article.

Methods for Processing Coffee Berries

The coffee berry comprises six layers: skin, pulp, gluten, parchment shell (parchment), silver skin (silverskin), and grain. Each layer serves a distinct purpose in protection and nutrition. During processing, the first four layers undergo changes, leading to four basic processing methods:

  1. Drying in the Berry (Natural Processing):
    • The entire berry is dried, also known as the natural or dry method.
    • Suitable for dry and hot climates like Ethiopia, Yemen, and Brazil due to low cost or limited water availability.
  2. Drying in Gluten (Honey and Semi-Washed Processing):
    • Involves drying the berry without skin, with variations like honey, palp-natural, semi-washed, or semi-dry.
    • Offers diverse flavors but requires expensive demucilator equipment.
  3. Drying in Parchment (Washed Processing):
    • The skin, pulp, and gluten are removed, and the grain is dried in parchment.
    • Developed in humid climates by Europeans in the 1850s for faster and controlled processing.
  4. Drying Grain (Wet-Hull Processing):
    • Removes skin, pulp, and patches from the berry, drying grains faster.
    • Yields ready-to-export green beans with a higher risk of defects and faster aging during storage.

Natural Processing: Why Coffee Turns Sweeter

Natural processing, a classic method originating from dry climates like Ethiopia and Yemen, involves drying coffee berries on patios or African beds. This process takes up to four weeks, resulting in fuller-bodied, sweeter coffee. While once associated with cheap coffee, it has regained popularity in the specialty coffee industry for its bold flavors.


  • Bright taste.
  • Cost-effective in dry climates.
  • Leaves no wastewater.


  • Requires careful separation of unripe berries.
  • Frequent stirring during drying.
  • Not suitable for countries with humid climates.

Other names for natural processing: natural, dry, unwashed, fruit dried, sun-dried.

Drying in Gluten (Honey and Semi-Washed Processing): Why is the Pulp Removed?

Drying in gluten, categorized into honey and semi-washed methods, involves removing the skin and some pulp. Honey processing results in sticky, honey-colored beans, while semi-washed utilizes a demucilator for faster drying.


  • Faster drying.
  • Greater variety of flavors.
  • Less biological waste and wastewater.
  • The remaining pulp can be used as fertilizer.


  • Increased risk of defects from mechanical stress.
  • Semi-washed processing requires expensive demucilator equipment.

Other names for honey and semi-washed processing: honey, palp-natural, pulp natural, semi-dry, semi-dried, semi-washed.

Drying in Parchment (Washed Processing): Why It Was Considered Better Than Natural

Washed processing, developed in humid climates by the British in their colonies, involves peeling and depulping coffee berries. Fermentation and washing follow to achieve a cleaner and more acidic taste, replacing natural processing over time.


  • Reduced drying time.
  • Requires less processing space.
  • Cleaner and more acidic taste.


  • Generates a large amount of wastewater.

Other names for washed processing: washed, completely washed, fully washed, wet processing.

Drying Grain Without Parchment (Wet-Hull): Which Helps Dry Grains Even Faster

In wet-hull processing, the skin, pulp, and patches are removed, and the still-wet grains undergo hulling. This method results in immediate export-ready green beans but carries a higher risk of defects and faster aging during storage.


  • The fastest way to dry grain.
  • Immediate export readiness.


  • High risk of defects.
  • Faster aging during storage.

Other names for wet-hull processing: wet-hull, giling-basah.

Why Is It Important to Know How Grain Is Processed?

Different processing methods yield different tastes, emphasizing the importance of understanding them. However, it’s crucial to remember that coffee taste is influenced by various factors, including terroir, coffee type, roasting, grinding quality, and water characteristics.

Embark on this flavorful expedition through the realms of coffee processing, where every step contributes to the symphony of tastes that elevate your coffee experience.

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