Coffee Processing Newsletter

Share the Tradition - Coffee Processing

Once harvested the coffee cherries must be quickly processed in order to prevent deterioration. The sticky mucilage coating and the husk or parchment must be removed from the beans by one of two methods. The oldest and simplest method is the dry method in which the coffee cherries are left to dry in the sun for up to four weeks and then hulled to reveal the beans. Coffee processed with the dry method tends to be more full-bodied with a somewhat earthy taste.

In the wet method most of the covering is removed from the beans before they are dried. A mechanical pulping machine removes the cherry pulp after which the seeds are dumped into fermentation tanks where an enzyme bath loosens the mucilage so that it can be easily washed from the seeds. Once washed and with the parchment still attached the beans are left to dry in the sun for 12 - 15 days during which time they are raked and turned several times a day to ensure even drying. Once the beans are dry the parchment is removed. Arabica beans are generally wet processed and coffee produced with the wet method is generally considered superior.

The coffee beans, now free of cherry, parchment, mucilage and all but 11 percent of their moisture, are ready to be sorted and bagged for export.

(Coffee Processing is the third in our series of articles on Coffee. See the Growing Coffee Newsletter for an article on Coffee Beans and the Coffee Harvesting letter for a discussion of Harvesting Coffee.

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Sources
Castle, T. J. and Nielsen, J. The Great Coffee Book. Berkeley CA, Ten Speed Press, 1999.
Coffee History. www.lucidcafe.com
Dicum, G. and Luttinger, N. The Coffee Book; Anatomy of an Industry From Crop to the Last Drop. NY, New Press, 1999.
Pendergrast, M., Uncommon Grounds, The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World. NY, Basic Books, 1999.