Washed Coffee. Sounds kind of weird when your first read it. After all, poeple harvest coffee, they roast and grind it. But washing coffee? As a matter of fact, it is indeed part of the so called “coffee processing”: the journey of the coffee beans from the coffee tree into your cup. The term „washed coffee“ has its origin in the fact that – surprise – water is used for this type of processing. It is the most common and popular processing method in the coffee industry. And for good reason: Washed coffee
- is clean
- brings out the distinct aroma of each type of coffee
- provides a good kind of acidity.
What is Coffee Processing All about?
The word „processed“ often has a negative ring to it. Especially when it is used in context with food. We associate processing with chemicals, factories, and instant food. However, none of this applies to coffee processing. It simply refers to the process of removing the peel from the coffee cherries and extracting the coffee beans. But let’s start from the top:
Coffee beans are the seeds of the coffee cherry. It is the small red fruit of the coffee tree. Each coffee cherry contains two coffee beans. Before you can even think about having a delicious coffee, the beans have to be removed from the pulp. This is easier said than done: Each coffee cherry consists of five different layers. Coffee processing basically is the removal of all these layers.
During wet coffee processing the pulp of the freshly harvested coffee cherries is removed from the coffee beans.
There are different ways to do this: There is the wet kind of processing that results in washed coffee and there is the dry kind that results in so called “natural coffee”. The different processing methods have an influence on how, in the end, each individual coffee will taste.
So What Exactly Does „Washed Coffee“ Mean?
Between the coffee harvest and its export two things happen:
- The seeds are separated from the pulp.
- The coffee beans are dried.
It is the sequence of these two steps that has a fundamental effect on the taste of your coffee. In short: The order in which your coffee beans are treated will affect what you will sip from your coffee cup at the end of the day. With fully washed coffee, it first ferments in water for a certain period of time. Then you remove most of the layers of pulp before starting the drying process. With dry-processed coffee, on the other hand, the pulp is only being separated from the coffee beans once they have dried.
The Flavor of Washed Coffee
However, the question that might intrigue you most is: What does washed coffee actually taste like? And why? We can answer that for you. Dry-processed coffee often has a full body and fruity flavors. This is because the pulp stays attached to the beans for a longer period of time. Fructose and other components within the beans ferment and affect the taste of the coffee bean.
And that is the drastic difference to washed coffee: the pulp of the coffee cherry is completely removed in advance. So there is no fermentation process going on that would alter the taste. Wet processing, therefore, is a good method if you want to focus on the coffee bean’s unique taste.
Kaffeebohnen nach der nassen Aufbereitung werden als washed coffee vertrieben
For this reason, wet coffee processing is best for coffee beans that come with an excellent taste profile. In addition, the wet processing can result in good acidity for your coffee. Many lovers of speciality coffee appreciate its lively, fruity characteristic.
So the next time you read washed coffee somewhere, try it out. Have a sip. Smile. And enjoy the pure taste of the coffee bean that tickles your taste buds.
Wanna learn more?
Here are a few reading suggestions on washed coffee and coffee in general: