What is Honey Processing
Written by Allana Kennedy, Roaster at Outpost Coffee Roasters
Honey process is when the skin of the cherry and pulp are removed but the mucilage is left on. The name ‘honey’ comes from the sticky, sweet, slimy mucilage which leaves the coffee tasting a little sweet like honey. Honey processed coffee often has more rounded acidity than washed coffees, with intense sweetness and complex mouthfeel.
Typically, the more mucilage left on the bean, the sweeter the taste.
Producers often have to wait right up until the time of picking to decide which processing method they will use, either washed, honey or natural. If it has rained a lot, it is difficult to use a natural or honey process as the cherries can be split and swollen and the sugars get washed away.
While I was at a coffee farm in Nicaragua the rain fall was so heavy and persistent while up on the mountains it made honey and natural processes extremely difficult to produce, not impossible but difficult. If the process of drying is interrupted it can produce mold. If honey processing is an option many recommend leaving the cherries for 24 hours before depulping, this allows the mucilage to adhere to the bean and develop flavour.
Now that you know about the three main ways of processing coffee, see if you can taste the difference next time you make a cup!