Washed coffee and natural coffee are two methods of processing coffee beans after they have been harvested from the coffee plant. The main difference between the two methods is the way in which the outer layers of the coffee beans are removed.
Washed coffee is processed using the wet method, which involves removing the outer layers of the coffee beans using water. This process begins by soaking the coffee cherries in water to loosen the outer layers and separate the beans from the pulp. The beans are then separated from the cherries using a machine. This machine uses water to float the beans to the surface, where they can be collected.
An example of a washed coffee would be our Rugembe Hill single origin from Burundi.
After the beans have been separated from the cherries, they are placed in a fermentation tank where they are left to soak for a period of time. This allows the remaining bits of pulp and mucilage to break down and be washed away. The beans are then rinsed and dried, either in the sun or in mechanical dryers.
Washed coffee is known for its clean, bright flavour and its lack of defects. It is also easier to control the flavour profile of washed coffee. This is because the fermentation process can be carefully controlled. However, the wet processing method is more labour-intensive and requires a lot of water, which can be a strain on resources in some areas.
For more information on coffee processing and some of the new innovative methods coming through, here is an interesting article complied by Perfect Daily Grind.
Natural coffee, on the other hand, is processed using the dry method. This involves leaving the coffee cherries to dry in the sun before removing the outer layers. The cherries are spread out in a thin layer on a large patio or raised bed. They are left to dry for a period of time. The cherries are raked or turned regularly to ensure that they dry evenly.
Once the cherries are dry, the outer layers can be easily removed by hand or using a machine. The beans are then sorted by size and quality, and they are ready for roasting.
Natural coffee is known for its complex, fruity flavours and its full body. It is often considered to be more flavourful than washed coffee, and it is prized by specialty coffee roasters. However, natural coffee is more difficult to produce because the drying process is more labour-intensive and requires a lot of space. It is also more prone to defects because the beans are not as carefully cleaned as they are in the wet process.
Shop our new Lazy Bones Combo.