The Ultimate Coffee Glossary

Honey Process

What is Honey Processed Coffee?

Honey process, also known as pulped natural process, is a coffee processing method that combines elements of both the washed and natural processing methods. In this method, ripe coffee cherries are picked and then de-pulped, which removes the skin and some of the fruit from the coffee bean. However, unlike the washed process where the coffee is then fully washed to remove all remaining fruit, in the honey process, the sticky mucilage or honey-like substance that covers the coffee bean is left intact.
The coffee beans are then dried in the sun on patios or raised beds, or in mechanical dryers, with the sticky layer still attached. During this drying process, the beans must be turned regularly to ensure even drying and to prevent fermentation or mold growth. The amount of mucilage left on the beans can vary from a thin layer (white honey) to a thicker layer (yellow or red honey), which affects the final flavor profile of the coffee.
The honey process was first developed in Central America as a way to produce high-quality coffee with the sweetness of natural processed coffee and the cleanliness of washed coffee. The result is often a coffee with a fuller body and sweeter, fruitier flavor notes than washed coffee, but with less fruitiness than natural processed coffee.
Honey processing requires careful attention and monitoring during the drying process, as any deviation from the ideal conditions can lead to defects and off-flavors in the final coffee. However, when done correctly, honey processing can produce unique and delicious coffees that are highly sought after by specialty coffee buyers and consumers.
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