Wet-Washed Processing of Coffee

December 29, 2023

The Art of Wet Wash Coffee Processing

The wet, washed, or fully washed coffee processing method is a modern and controlled technique that involves removing the outer layers of the coffee cherry before drying the beans. This method is known for producing clean, bright, and nuanced coffees with distinct flavor profiles. Here is an overview of the wet-washed coffee processing method:

  1. Harvesting: Coffee cherries are selectively handpicked when fully ripe, ensuring a uniform and high-quality harvest.
  2. Depulping: The outer skin of the cherry is mechanically removed, exposing the beans covered with mucilage. Depulping can be done using machines or fermentation tanks. Some coffee producers use water channels to separate the lighter, less dense cherries from the fully ripe ones, which may indicate underripeness.
  3. Fermentation: The de-pulped beans, still covered with mucilage, are transferred to fermentation tanks with water. The fermentation process helps to break down and loosen the mucilage from the beans. The duration of fermentation varies but typically lasts between 12 to 72 hours.
  4. Washing: After fermentation, the beans are thoroughly washed to remove the remaining mucilage. This step is crucial in determining the cleanliness and clarity of the final cup.
  5. Drying: The washed beans are spread out to dry, either on patios, raised beds, or using mechanical dryers. The drying process is generally faster than in the natural method, as the beans are no longer covered in mucilage.
  6. Hulling: Once the beans have dried to the optimal moisture content, they undergo mechanical hulling to remove the parchment layer, revealing the green coffee beans.
This video Povived by Cafe Imports

Wet-washed coffees are known for their clean cup profile, distinct acidity, and the ability to showcase the unique flavors of the coffee beans. This processing method allows for greater control over the fermentation and washing processes, resulting in coffees with more clarity and brightness. Wet-washed coffees are often preferred for beans with delicate and nuanced flavor profiles, and they are popular in regions where water is abundant and the climate allows for efficient drying.

This method is commonly used in Central and South American countries, such as Costa Rica, Colombia, and Kenya, as well as in many specialty coffee-producing regions around the world.

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