Kaffee Aufbereitung: Natural, washed oder honey processes Kaffee

Coffee processing: Natural, washed or honey processes coffee

Adiam Engeda

After harvesting, the coffee beans are usually processed using one of three methods: Natural Process (sun-dried), Washed Process (wet processing) or Honey Process. The method of coffee processing has a significant impact on the final taste of the coffee.

Coffee harvest

Naturally processed coffee (sun-dried)

The natural process is the oldest and most traditional way of preparing coffee. In natural processing, the coffee cherries are laid out on a raised bed or a clean terrace to dry in the sun, with the fruits still intact. To ensure even drying, the cherries are turned regularly during the drying period. Over time, the skin and sticky juice of the cherries dry out in the sun, which can take several days to a few weeks depending on the temperature and intensity of the sun.

natural coffee

Over time, the cherries become hard and dry and shrink in size. Once the cherries are dried to the desired moisture content (11-12%), they are moved to a peeling station where the beans are separated from the skin and parchment.

Special precautions must be taken to ensure even drying of the cherries and to avoid contact with contamination. In addition, the coffee must be dried to a certain moisture content. Over-dried coffee can break, resulting in defective beans, while over-dry coffee spoils quickly upon contact with microbes such as fungi and bacteria.

Improper drying or exposure to moisture can lead to poor results or even fermented flavors in the finished cup. Therefore, it is important to maintain proper drying conditions for the cherries throughout the entire process.

Although the natural processing process requires special attention, it is affordable and requires the least amount of equipment, making it affordable even for small farmers. Another important advantage of the natural process is that no water is required. Therefore, naturally processed coffee is more common in dry and remote areas.

Of course, in rainy regions where humidity and rain are common during the harvest season, the natural method is impractical.

Flavor profile of natural coffee

In general, naturally processed coffees have a sweet, fruity flavor profile and a heavier body because the cherry has been exposed to its own natural sugars for a longer period of time during drying.

For example, a naturally processed Ethiopian coffee has stronger fruit notes, such as blueberries, and a heavier body than washed Ethiopian coffee. A naturally prepared Burundi coffee, on the other hand, has deep chocolate notes.

It is important to note that coffees grown at low altitudes, such as B. Brazilian coffee does not taste fruity, no matter how you prepare it. Natural processing enhances the sweetness and body inherent in the coffee bean.

Common flavor in naturally process coffee

  • The sugar added to the beans during drying results in lower perceived acidity and stronger body.
  • Fruity and sweeter flavors are more pronounced
  • Flavors of tropical fruits, such as blueberries, and dark chocolate are common.
  • Naturally prepared coffees usually have a medium to full body.

Note : Naturally processed green coffee beans often have a yellowish or orange, thin skin on the top of the beans. It is the result of the beans' prolonged exposure to the juicy natural sugars that are absorbed into the bean during drying. As a result, naturally prepared coffee beans produce a lot of chaff when roasted and burn relatively easily at higher roasting temperatures because of the sugar that has penetrated the bean.

Wet processing method (washed process)

Wet processing, also known as washed process, is a relatively new method of processing coffee beans. It involves several steps, including sorting the coffee cherries, pulping to remove the peel, fermentation to break down the mucilage, and drying the beans.

Sorting: Removing the unripe or defective cherries

The first step in wet processing is sorting the coffee cherries. Unripe and defective cherries are sorted out by hand. The cherries are then immersed in water and the less dense cherries floating at the top of the tank are skimmed off, which is a sign of a defect or poor quality. Sorting is important to ensure that only high quality cherries are used for further steps.


After sorting, the cherries are placed in a pulping machine to remove the outer skin and pulp. This step is necessary to separate the beans from the rest of the fruit. Dehulling occurs as quickly as possible during the washing process, usually within 8 to 12 hours after harvest. After the shells have been removed, the kernels are still covered with mucilage, a sticky fruit material.

Pulping coffee


After the beans are shelled, the slime-coated, sticky seeds are placed in a fermentation container, which is usually cemented. Fermentation breaks down the sugar in the mucus and softens it, making it easier to remove when washing.

Fermentation coffee preparation

Fermentation typically takes 12 to 24 hours, but may take longer depending on weather and other circumstances. The fermentation process must be carefully monitored so that the coffee does not develop unpleasant sour aromas.


After fermentation, the beans are washed to remove any remaining mucilage. To do this, the coffee beans are placed in washing troughs filled with clean water and repeatedly pressed against the slowly flowing water with wooden rakes to move it. The strong movement of the water removes any remaining mucus so that the coffee in its parchment casing is clean and can be dried.


The final phase of wet processing is drying. The beans are spread out on drying beds and dried for up to 1-2 weeks, depending on the weather. Once the beans have reached the desired moisture content of approximately 11-12%, they are bagged and transported in their parchment layer to a storage unit or warehouse where they remain in the bags until they are ready for export. Then the parchment layer is removed and the coffee is shipped.

Dry-wet processing

Flavor profile of washed coffee

Washed coffee is characterized by its clarity of taste and aroma. The washed process produces a clean coffee without masked notes, unaffected by the natural sugars and flavors of the cherry. The result is a light, strong coffee with a pleasant intensity.

The following describes the common flavors of washed coffee, taking into account aspects such as acidity, body and flavor :

  • Acidity: Washed coffees are often prized for their clean and vibrant acidity. This lively, pleasant acidity is a hallmark of many specialty coffees and is particularly pronounced in washed Arabica beans. The acidity can be reminiscent of citrus or other tropical fruits.
  • Body: Washed coffees tend to have a lighter body than other processing methods, e.g. E.g. natural coffees or coffees prepared with honey. This does not mean that washed coffees are less high quality, but rather that they have a more delicate and silky mouthfeel. The feel or mouthfeel of washed coffee is less dense and offers a clean and elegant experience.
  • The taste: Washed coffees are known for their pure and genuine taste, which reflects the origin, variety and terroir of the bean. The washing process is designed to enhance the inherent qualities without the influence of the natural sugar and fruit flavor from the mucilage and fruit layers of the cherry. Common flavor characteristics include a tart, fruity acidity reminiscent of citrus or other tropical fruits, as well as subtle tea-like undertones.

Honey or pulped natural process

A third common method of coffee preparation is the so-called honey or natural pulp process. It is a mix of natural and washed processing.

coffee pulped

In this process, the pulp is removed mechanically but the beans are dried without intermediate fermentation. The coffee beans are dried with the sticky, fruity slime.

Honey processed coffee

Honey or pulped natural processed coffee therefore has a good balance of sweetness and tart notes with a medium body.


Coffee processing methods have a major impact on the flavor profile of the coffee. If you are a coffee connoisseur, understanding the different preparation methods can help you recognize or anticipate the flavor notes.

For example, if you're looking for a clear, fruity acidity with a bit of intensity, a washed coffee is for you. If you prefer a relatively sweet taste with a strong body, a naturally processed coffee would be ideal. If you're looking for something in between, coffee made with honey is right for you.

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