Generally, coffees identified as “washed” are coffees which undergo de-pulping, washing, and fermentation.
The key to this process is fermentation. In this controlled process, coffee (still encased in parchment and mucilage) remains under water for a length of time determined by local practices.
During this time, the sugars from the mucilage left on the bean after pulping breakdown and release their hold on the beans. This process washes the bean.
The beans are then laid out on a patio or raised beds to dry, heightening acidity and bringing cleanliness and clarity to the finished brew.
This process is all about the sun.
Coffee is picked at peak ripeness and is laid out on a patio or on raised beds still encased in its fruit to dry naturally in the sun.
It is extremely important to move the coffee throughout the day during the drying process to limit uncontrolled fermentation.
This processing brings forward sweetness and imparts fruit flavors on the coffee.
Honeys and Pulped Naturals and Hybrids… Oh my!
In the Pulped Natural and Honey process, coffee cherries are de-pulped and then, instead of being washed and fermented as in the Washed Process, they are moved to drying patios or tables for sun-drying and finishing before being milled.
Different iterations of this process sometimes include washing and further scrubbing and de-pulping post drying.
Coffees produced in this manner tend to evolve deep sweet character but without the intense fruity character of Natural processed coffees or the crispness of a Washed processed coffee.