The coffee bean goes through numerous stages before getting into your favorite cup of coffee. Some of the steps it goes through between growing and brewing are often overlooked. Essentially, most coffee drinkers are aware that coffee beans are seeds found inside coffee cherries, which grow on coffee trees.
Also, most coffee enthusiasts are aware that there is harvesting, processing, and roasting done before grinding coffee beans. However, many do not know that coffee processing is one of the most important steps that affect how your coffee tastes.
When processing coffee beans, there are various methods used including washed processing. So what is washed coffee? Washed coffee is coffee that results from washed processing. Read on to learn more about washed coffee.
What is Coffee Processing?
Coffee beans are seeds that grow inside coffee fruits known as coffee cherries. Coffee cherries contain pits. Each pit typically contains two seeds. These seeds are what we call coffee beans. When coffee cherries are harvested, they undergo a process of extracting the beans from the cherries. This process is what we call coffee processing.
Coffee processing is a complicated process. A coffee cherry has many layers that cover the beans inside. All these layers have to be removed during processing. These layers include outer skin, pulp, pectin, parchment, and silver skin.
Coffee processing involves different methods to extract coffee beans. One of the most common coffee processing methods is known as washed or wet processing. Washed processing involves removing the coffee cherry layers before drying. Here are the steps involved in obtaining washed coffee using the washed processing method:
Stage 1 – Sorting
The first step of obtaining washed coffee involves compiling coffee cherries and putting them into floating water, where the unripe and ripe cherries are sorted. The ripe cherries are considered good coffee and sink to the bottom. On the other hand, unripe cherries are considered bad coffee and float to the top.
Stage 2 – Pulping
Next, the skin (pulp) of the cherry is removed. To do this, the ripe cherries are put into a de-pulping machine. The machine removes the outer skin layers to expose the coffee beans.
Stage 3 – Fermentation
In this step, the beans go through a channel comprising a huge water tank. Any beans that float in the water tank are removed. The beans that are left in the tank are allowed to soak for around 18 to 24 hours. The duration may fluctuate depending on certain factors such as the local processes, country, and temperature.
As the beans ferment, microorganisms within the beans create enzymes. The enzymes break down the mucilage on the seeds. The mucilage is the pasty substance that gives coffee its delicious flavor.
Stage 4 – Drying
After completion of the fermentation process, the beans are removed from the water tank and allowed to dry. Many smaller farms dry the beans under the sun. Larger farms often dry the beans with the help of mechanical dryers. Also, some farms combine drying the beans under the sun and mechanical dryers. Regardless of the drying method used, the beans are dried until the remaining moisture content is between 10 to 12 percent.
How Does Washed Coffee Taste?
After drying the beans, you get washed coffee. But what does it taste like? Coffee enthusiasts appreciate washed coffee for its purity. You can notice all the distinct flavors and vibrant notes of the variety and origin. The clarity in washed coffee is mainly a result of removing the beans from the cherry before drying.
What is washed coffee? By now, you know that washed coffee refers to coffee beans obtained from coffee cherries using the wet or washed processing method. Washed processing allows you to enjoy the natural flavors of coffee based on the origin and growing conditions. Although numerous resources and a lot of energy are required to obtain washed coffee, it is a great way for farms to showcase their clean and high-quality coffee beans.