Processing Coffee Beans: Wet and Dry Methods

Processing coffee beans is what transforms them from small fruits grown on a coffea tree to the recognisable small, brown, kidney shaped beans that are bitter and crunchy if eaten raw. (0/10, do not recommend. They might look like chocolate, but they’re not.)

The fruit is commonly called a cherry and looks remarkably similar: shiny and red, as in the image above of our DBarbosa coffea trees.

So how does coffee transform from a cherry to a bean?

Once ripe, the fruit is removed from around the bean by either wet or dry processing. It’s an important influence on the taste of the resulting coffee.

Wet processing is also known as ‘washing’ beans, which involves gently removing layers of the skin of the cherries. Coffee produced by this method tends to be more acidic in taste.

Dry processing involves drying the fruit around the bean, resulting in a fruitier, heavier bodied taste. 

Of course, it’s never as simple as wet or dry processing coffee beans. There’s a third method, which involves removing the skin of the fruit immediately after picking, but letting the cherry dry with the flesh still on the bean. Once dry, the pulp is removed by machine. These beans sit in the middle of the range from acidic to heavy bodied.

Each bean is unique and no processing method is the ‘correct’ one. Which type of bean you’d prefer is dependent on your taste preferences.

If you think you’d like a lighter bodied bean, why not try our Colombian Huila Dark Roast?

Alternatively, I recommend Ethiopian Sidamo Medium Roast for a fruitier flavour.

You may even like to Meet the Farmer of the Brazil DBarbosa coffee bean!