Coffee Processing: Washed Process
Updated: 16 hours ago
This coffee process focus mainly on the bean which means this coffee will let you taste what's on the inside, not the outside.
Washed coffees depend almost 100% on the bean having absorbed enough natural sugars and nutrients during its growing cycle. This means the varietal, soil, weather, ripeness, fermentation, washing, and drying are key for a great coffee. With washed coffees, the country of origin and environmental conditions add to the flavour.
The washed process highlights the true character of a single origin bean like no other process. This is the reason why so many specialty coffees are washed.
Also known as wet processing method, is the other main way to process coffee. In this method, the cherries are removed from the seeds before the drying process. To do this, the cherries are first sorted to ensure consistent ripeness levels, and then are run through depulpers (machines that squeeze the cherries until the seeds pop out). Then the seeds and skins are separated, and the seeds move into tanks where they go through either a ferment-and-wash method or a machine-assisted wet process to remove the rest of the mucilage to clean the seeds before they are dried.
Ferment-and-wash process - the remaining mucilage is broken down by microbes and yeast via fermentation and then is washed with water again to remove the mucilage from the seeds.
Machine-assisted process - the cherries are mechanically scrubbed and most of the mucilage of the scene is removed through friction. After the seeds are washed, they are dried in the sun on patios, raised beds, or in machines.
The amount of time that the fermentation requires depends on the climate and altitude. In hotter regions the fermentation will take less time and vice versa. Usually the fermentation requires 24-72 hours and if the coffee beans are fermented for too long, it will have a negative effect on the flavor of the coffee. After the fermentation is ready, the coffee beans are washed to remove any leftover flesh and then it is ready to be dried. Drying in the washed process is done similarly as in natural process so in brick patios or raised beds. To ensure even drying the beans are turned regularly as in natural processing. The beans can be also mechanically dried, especially in regions where there isn't enough sunshine or excess humidity.
The washed process leads to bright and acidic flavors in the cup. It's commonly highly appreciated among roasters and baristas due to increased complexity and cleaner cup profiles. Many describe washed coffees to have white wine like flavors when compared to natural coffees.
Washed coffee will not have the heavier fruit flavour, but will have a cleaner mouthfeel, with brighter, with higher acidity and more of a “coffee” taste.
Many farmers or producers choose the washed process because properly done it reduces the risk of defects and it's a more stable way to process coffee. On the other hand, it requires more water than other processing methods so it's more expensive for the farmers or producers.
The goal of processing coffee for farmers is to separate the bean from the coffee cherry but also preserve the coffee’s profitability. Even if the coffee was picked perfectly ripe and the harvest has gone really well, bad coffee processing can lead to defects which decrease the value of the coffee.
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