The 3 Processing Techniques that Coffee Farmers Use

Ever wonder what happens to coffee beans before they’re roasted, packaged, and shipped to stores?

Maybe you’d like to know where the beans even grow – some random coffee farm on an island? Utah?

Coffee processing is actually pretty fascinating.

First, you start with what they call “coffee berries” (or “coffee cherries” depending on who you ask). They’re grown in tropical climates around the world, from Mexico to Hawaii to Indonesia.

 Coffee Cherries

The beans we know and love are inside these berries, raw and ready to roll. Once picked, the coffee beans move to the next stage to be “processed.”

There are three popular techniques for coffee processing: washed, natural, and honey.

Washed: This method involves taking coffee beans out of the berries using machines called pulpers. Once that’s done, the beans sit and ferment in tanks before they’re washed, dried, and stored. As you can imagine, it’s a lot of work!

You tend to get a soft, chocolate-y or flowery taste with washed beans. Yum!

Natural: This “dry” process (meaning, little water is involved) is as old as coffee farming itself. Beans stay inside the fruit and dry under the sun before they’re taken out.

Many people love the delicious, fruity flavor you get that makes every morning an adventure.

Honey: No, you don’t throw the beans into a beehive and hope for the best. It just means the mucilage (a natural, sticky coating on coffee beans) is never removed or washed off before the beans are put out to dry. So, it’s like the beans are covered in honey. Cool, right?

One quick thing: do you know about fair trade coffee? If you see fair trade coffee mentioned on packaging, that means the farmers were treated fairly. It also means certain environmental standards were met during the coffee farming process.

If you could visit a coffee farm anywhere in the world, where would you go? We’d love to know.

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