Honey in My Tea, and Now My Coffee?

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Honey processed green coffee is all the rage these days – and for good reason!

When ripe coffee cherries are picked from the tree they are bright red in color, but before arriving at the roaster, there are a variety of processes that can take place. Here are three:

  1. Natural Process. This is the first and longest standing process. Coffee cherries are left au natural and sent directly to drying beds to be dried for 42 days. Once dried, the dry skin and parchment layer of the cherries are separated from the coffee beans.
  2. Wet Process (also called European Prep or Fully Washed). Coffee cherries are put through a pulping process to separate the coffee beans from the cherry. After pulping, the beans are deposited into a fermentation tank where natural occurring enzymes dissolve the pulp and mucilage. Then the beans are washed and dried.
  3. I buy both natural and wet, but now I’m exploring a new option – the Honey Process. Cherries arrive at the mill and are left 12–24 hours in a holding tank before being de-pulped. The parchment layer is removed using a de-mucilage machine which controls the percentage of mucilage left on the bean. When 85% of the mucilage remains, it’s called red honey. If 70% remains, it’s called yellow honey.

The honey process gives coffee more fruit clarity than the natural process, and more body than the washed process, so I’m excited to roast the three new Tarrazu region Costa Rican coffees now in route to our roasterie. There are two yellow honey and one red honey from neighboring farms. I’ll be sure to share my experience, but if you come across a honey processed coffee in the meantime, give it a try!

All the best!

Anthony Valerio