If you have ever bought a bag of coffee from any craft coffee shop, you have probably seen something on the bag that says something like, “Process: natural” or “Washed”. All of our coffee partners like Elemental, Cirque, Topeca, & KLLR use this nomenclature.
What does that mean and how is it important to the consumer?
Natural and washed processing are the 2 most common ways of processing beans. To start, coffee beans grow in a fruit on trees. That's right! A fruit! The wash process simply defined is the procedure for removing the pulp and outer skin of the coffee fruit; called a coffee cherry.
The natural washing process occurs when the coffee cherry is picked from the tree and set out to dry in the sun. This can take 3-6 weeks. Once the cherry has dried to its fullest the beans, or seeds, are removed. So what does the natural washing process do to the bean? Due to the beans being in the cherry, or skin, longer, the coffee will typically have a brighter and more bold sweetness. This is because the natural sugars are infusing into the beans from the pulp as they dry.
Creator & Photographer: Miles Tuttle
The washed process is when the beans are removed from the cherry before drying. Once the beans are removed they are washed to get any left-over mucilage off. After being washed of the mucilage, the seeds are set out to dry. Washed coffees can be fruity and bright as well but less so compared to a natural processed coffee which has been exposed to the other fruit components for a longer period of time. With washed coffees the flavors are coming from the bean itself instead of coming from the skins and pulps of the cherry.
Photo: Wikipedia Commons
When buying coffee to brew up at home take a look and see what the process is. Both of these processes will result in fantastic coffees. Dive in and try some different washed and natural coffees and see the differences in them. Here at EVERYMAN our approach is one of exploration. Come on in and let me guide you through navigating some of the best in Oklahoma roasting.
EVERYMAN Director of Coffee Experience