Have you ever been to a coffee shop and seen "washed processing"?
It is common for people to be confused with the coffee lingo in the beginning. There are three different processing methods that can assist with the flavoring of the coffee beans.
If you can remember each method, then you will le to predict the flavor of your coffee.
The method that is the quickest would be the "washed process".
Here are the basic steps to the washed method
All three processes start with the most important part, which is the cherry. The coffee plants grow cherries that have two coffee beans inside of them.
The cherries are harvested and sorted due to their ripeness. The perfectly ripe cherries are the ones that continue with the washing processing method for making great-tasting coffee. All over the world there are many twists in the washing process.
The only thing that is relatively the same is the general concepts. The whole method is also known in some parts as "wet processing".
The purpose of the first step is to remove the cherry from the green coffee beans. It is accomplished commonly by a machine that uses water to push the cherries through grates.
The grates are what removes the cherries from the green coffee beans. The cherries are then used as cascara or used in making fertilizer for the coffee plants. There is a sticky mucilage that remains on the green coffee beans. This mucilage will be removed in the second part of the washing process.
Fermenting and Washing Stage
It is common for most coffee mills to allow the mucilage to ferment for around 12 to 48 hours. It is accomplished by placing the beans in large tubs of water.
This is more frequent in South and Central Americas due to the more frequent rain. Dry fermentation is accomplished by the juices that are in the cherries.
This process is very important and has to be watched very carefully to prevent any bacteria growth, creating sour or bad flavors, and for preventing any insects from taking over.
Time, temperature, and acidity checks are monitored routinely to make sure to keep things inline. The fermenting part of the washing process is what gives your roasted coffee its unique acidity and clarity in washed coffees.
Once the mucilage is removed with the fermenting process, the coffee beans will then go through an extensive round of rinsing with fresh water.
There is a machine that removes the mucilage
There is a new technique for removing mucilage.
This method uses a machine with tiny bristles that scrub away the mucilage from the beans. At the end of the process, there is a rinse for the coffee beans with fresh water. It is a more predictable way to get the flavor, but it skips the fermenting process which changes the flavors of the beans in a remarkable way.
Another benefit of using this machine is that there is an extremely lower amount of water wasted from this method from only having one washing at the end.
The Drying Stage
Once it gets to the drying stage, the beans are now left between two protective layers, which are the silverskin and the parchment.
They will be placed on large patios or raised beds for drying. It is extremely important that the coffee beans are raked every six hours for equally drying to prevent uneven drying or bacteria growth. The beans have to be dryer to a maximum of 10% moisture index for safe storage and shipping of the beans.
Quality is extremely important with specialty coffee. There are some coffee mills that use huge mechanical dryers to complete the drying process much faster.
Once the beans are completely dried, they are ready to go into the hull machine. The hull machine will remove the parchment and silverskin from the coffee beans to allow them to be shipped around the world.
Who uses the washing method?
It is common for the coffee mills in the rainy regions to take advantage of this method more than those who live in the dryer areas of the world. The other two methods rely on dryer weather to be successful.
The washed method has a much shorter span than the other two. It lasts around 5 to 10 days compared to multiple weeks for the others. Many mills use this method for the high-quality and consistency it provides.
What do washed coffees taste like?
The coffees that are produced from washed method coffees are lighter in body than those of the other two methods. They provide you with a lot of flavor clarity, but not overly simple.
They can still have complex flavors. You will not find them boring like blended origin coffees.
If you enjoy a light flavor-filled coffee that wakes you up with a smile, then washed coffee is going to bring you a whole new coffee experience.