A Little Explanation of Honey Processed Coffee
Honey processing is a labor intensive process for the farmer, and if done poorly can result in the loss of the entire crop. But when the time is taken to do it well, the results are well worth it. Even the green beans bring a vast array of wonderful scents when the bag is opened, and the joy is in bringing those notes into the final roast.
For those new to Honey Processed, a brief explanation is due. This processing method follows a similar path as washing except the mucilage is not removed, but instead left to dry on the parchment layer. Just like fermentation, a well-done honey process requires observation and mastery because the mucilage layer plays a crucial role in creating cup character. The tricky part is drying. Once the beans pass through the pulper, special care has to be taken so the coffee dries quickly enough to prevent fermentation and stave off fungal or bacterial growth but not too quickly. And the weather needs to be just right. The beans must be agitated or raked 2 – 3 times per hour until they are dry enough not to stick to a down-turned palm, usually 6 – 8 hours. More raking than average is often required beyond this point to ensure nothing rots nor ferments. Once dried to the proper moisture, the coffee, with parchment and dried mucilage still attached, is set to rest, and then finally dry milled just like a washed coffee before moving to the roaster.
Honey processing bridges the gap between washed and natural coffees as it generally possesses some of the body and sweetness of a natural, while retaining some of the acidity of a washed. Honey coffees often have a syrupy body with enhanced sweetness, round acidity and earthy undertones.