Being new to specialty coffee can be super intimidating, but it really doesn’t have to be! If you are trying to pick a bag of beans for yourself or as a gift for someone else, there are a couple of key things to look for that will help you choose the perfect bag. The region certainly impacts the way the coffee tastes. But so does the process technique. Learning the different techniques will help you understand what you like in different coffees.
Here is a quick guide on the processes that coffee beans undergo and how those processes change the taste in your cup at home. The three most common coffee processing methods that you will encounter are natural, washed, and honey. But what is coffee processing anyway? It is the process of getting the seed out of the coffee cherries (yes, they’re cherries!). The seeds are surrounded by a layer of mucilage, pulp and then the skin. Once the seeds are processed, they are ready for roasting! Easy, right?
The coffee cherries are- you guessed it- washed! The skin and the mucilage (the sticky layer underneath the pulp) is separated from the seed and then dried either in the sun or mechanically. A washed process coffee tends to be “cleaner” and highlights flavor profiles that are typical to the region. Curious how that translates? Check out our washed process Liftoff coffee from Guatemala.
Freshly picked coffee cherries are laid out in the sun to dry for up to four weeks! This means that when they dry, they dry with the skin and pulp, and the beans have time to absorb all of those sweet flavors. Natural coffees tend to have more unique, rich and complex flavor profiles when they finally reach our cup. That’s why our Natural Process Project 51 coffee from Brazil is so sweet and citrus-y!
This is a combination of the other two processes: the pulp is removed but the mucilage stays on and then is left to naturally dry. It creates a coffee that is slightly more complex than a washed coffee. Give our Colombian coffee Galactic Fantastic a try to experience a honey process.
We hope this helps you on your journey to discover coffee! Try different processes from the same origin. Try different origins, figure out what you like! Coffee is fun on the RetroRocket ride!