Dry and Wet Coffee Processing
Dry processing is the oldest method of processing coffee.
The cherries are washed and then spread out on drying racks to dry in the
sun for several weeks, or alternatively, are dried by machine. During this
drying process, the pulp ferments, lending a particular taste to the bean.
How the coffee is handled during drying—whether sun-dried coffee is
protected against adverse weather or temperature, the machine driers'
temperature, etc. will affect the eventual quality and flavor of the bean.
After the beans are dried, they are machine processed to remove the dried
outer layers. The dry-process (also known as the natural method) produces
coffee that is heavy in body, sweet, smooth, and complex. The dry-process is
often used in countries where rainfall is scarce and long periods of
sunshine are available to dry the coffee properly. Most coffees from
Indonesia, Ethiopia, Brazil, and Yemen are dry-processed.
Coffee processed by the wet method is called wet processed or washed coffee. Wet-processing coffee is a
somewhat new method of removing the four layers surrounding the coffee bean.
The coffee cherries are sorted by immersion in water. This allows bad or unripe fruit
to float and the good ripe fruit will sink to the bottom. This process results in a coffee that is cleaner, brighter, and fruitier.
Most countries with coffee valued for its perceived acidity, will process their coffee using the wet-process.