After a coffee cherry is picked from the tree, its perilous journey along the path to quality hits an important crossroads. Coffee’s inherent quality is close to its peak during this initial duration of time once it is picked, and the choice in how a coffee bean will be processed is one that is meant to truly showcase the inherent quality of the bean or compliment those raw attributes in a positive way. Coffee is processed differently throughout the world; sometimes this is due to legacy or tradition without an understanding of its influence on the cup, while other times it is a specific choice at the farm level to add or coax out new flavors and experiences in the profile of the coffee.
Within countries, and even within specific farms, several processes can be done. Producers around the world are experimenting with new processing techniques and styles everyday. Sometimes the results are truly astounding, while other experiments result in less than stellar results. As a company that is in the business of developing and uncovering the best coffees in the world, we support our producer partner’s experiments in new processing techniques and separations by committing to purchase the coffee regardless of the cup’s results. In our eyes, this is the only truly sustainable way to nurture and encourage trust and collaboration in this sense on the farm level.
There are several major categories of coffee processing recognized by the coffee industry as a whole. Sometimes these are called different things depending on which country you are in, but the general principles remain the same. Below you will find some information on the main processing techniques used around the world: fully washed, natural, pulped natural, and wet hulled.