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  • Writer's pictureD Huang

What do you mean coffee needs processing?

Coffee is the seed of the coffee cherry. We drink roasted coffee seeds which came from the fruit of coffee tree. Yes, there you go, I have said it out loud. Coffee is a produce, just like the vegetable or fruit in your garden.

Coffee needs to be processed in order to remove the outer layers of the coffee cherry and prepare the coffee beans for roasting and consumption. The outer layers of the cherry, including the pulp and mucilage, contain sugars, acids, and other compounds that can affect the flavor of the coffee if they are not removed. Additionally, the outer layers of the cherry can be a breeding ground for bacteria and mold if they are left on the coffee beans for too long, which can negatively impact the quality of the coffee. Processing also helps to separate the coffee beans from the fruit, allowing them to be dried and stored more easily.



Once the coffee beans have been processed, they can be roasted to develop their unique flavor profiles and aromas. There are different processing methods that can be used, each of which can impact the final flavour of the coffee. The choice of processing method often depends on factors such as the climate, altitude, and local traditions of the region where the coffee is grown, as well as the desired flavour profile of the final product. Overall, coffee processing is an important step in the production of high-quality coffee with complex and nuanced flavours. There are three traditional processing method used by coffee producers:

  1. Washed Process: In this method, the coffee cherries are first picked and then run through a machine that removes the outer layers of fruit, leaving only the beans. The beans are then fermented in water for a period of time, during which the remaining fruit is removed from the beans. The beans are then washed and dried. This process results in a cleaner, brighter, and more acidic coffee with a lighter body.

  2. Honey Process: This method is a hybrid between the natural and washed processes. The coffee cherries are picked, and the outer layers are removed, leaving some of the fruit intact on the beans. The beans are then dried with this sticky layer of fruit still attached, often on raised beds, resulting in a complex and sweet coffee with a medium body. The amount of fruit left on the beans can vary from "white honey" (very little fruit left on the bean) to "red honey" (a significant amount of fruit left on the bean).

  3. Natural Process: In this method, the coffee cherries are picked and then dried whole in the sun or on raised beds until the beans inside the cherry have reached the desired moisture content. The dried cherries are then hulled, removing the outer layers to reveal the green coffee beans. This process often results in a sweet, fruity, and full-bodied coffee with lower acidity.


In recent years, there have been several developments in coffee processing methods that are aimed at enhancing the flavour of coffee. As more coffee producers adopt new experimental processing methods, the line drawn in the 3 traditional styles of process became less clear. Here are a few examples:

  1. Extended Fermentation: This is a variation of the washed process in which the coffee beans are left to ferment for a longer period of time, often up to 72 hours. This extended fermentation can lead to more complex and intense flavors in the resulting coffee.

  2. Carbonic Maceration: This method involves placing the coffee cherries in a sealed container filled with carbon dioxide gas for a period of time before processing. This process can result in a coffee with fruity, wine-like flavors and aromas.

  3. Natural Anaerobic Fermentation: This method involves leaving the coffee cherries in a sealed container without oxygen for a period of time before processing. This can lead to unique and complex flavor profiles in the coffee, often with fruity or floral notes.

  4. Controlled Fermentation: This method involves carefully controlling the temperature, humidity, and duration of the fermentation process to produce specific flavor profiles in the coffee.

Overall, these and other developments in coffee processing methods are aimed at exploring the vast range of flavours that can be found in coffee and pushing the boundaries of what is possible in terms of taste and quality.


Coffee processing is an important step in the production of high-quality coffee with complex and nuanced flavours. The choice of processing method can have a significant impact on the final flavour of the coffee. At Society Coffee Roasters, we carry a range of different single origin coffee with various processing methods to allow you to explore the world of coffee and dive deeper into your journey with delicious and complex beverage.


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