From Bean to Brew: A History Of Coffee Processing Methods

3 min read

From Bean to Brew: A History Of Coffee Processing Methods

Coffee: a magical concoction that powers the world, one sip at a time. Yet, how often do we stop to ponder the journey our favourite cup of joe has undertaken before it graces our breakfast table or office desk?

At Fox Coffee, we believe understanding the process of coffee making is just as important as the pleasure of consuming it.

So, let's embark on a coffee-centric expedition and unravel the complex and intriguing methods of coffee processing.


Coffee: A Brief History

Legend has it that it was a flock of Ethiopian goats that first stumbled upon the magical properties of the coffee plant.

Noticing the increased energy of his goats after they nibbled on certain berries, a curious shepherd decided to experiment.

That experiment laid the cornerstone of what would become one of the most popular beverages worldwide.

Over the centuries, coffee moved from Ethiopia to the Arabian Peninsula and onwards to Europe and the Americas.

Throughout its journey, it wasn't merely the coffee bean that traveled but also various methods of cultivation and processing, creating the diverse coffee world we enjoy today.


Coffee Processing: The Unseen Journey

Processing coffee is an art form, and it's during this stage that the unique flavours and characteristics we so love in our coffee are developed.

It all begins with the picking of ripe coffee cherries, but what follows can be a world apart.

The most commonly employed processing methods include the Wet Process (or washed process), Dry Process (natural process), Honey Process, and Semi-washed Process.


Wet Process

Also known as the washed method, this is arguably the most commonly used coffee processing method worldwide.

It involves removing the skin and pulp from the cherry soon after it is harvested.

The beans are then fermented in water to break down the remaining sticky layer of mucilage. After this, the beans are washed clean and dried.

The result? Coffee that is bright, clean, and often more acidic.

It allows the inherent flavours of the bean to shine through, a trait particularly cherished by lovers of single-origin coffees.

Dry Process

Also known as the natural method, this is the oldest way of processing coffee, often used in regions where water is a scarce resource.

The harvested coffee cherries are spread out to dry under the sun, a process that can take several weeks.

Once the cherries are dried to the desired level, they are hulled to remove the outer layers, revealing the green coffee beans inside.

The dry process imparts fruity and wine-like flavours to the coffee, as the bean has more time to interact with the natural sugars from the cherry's pulp and mucilage.

Honey and Semi-washed Process

These methods fall somewhere between the washed and dry processes.

In the honey process, some mucilage is left on the bean during drying, resulting in a sweet, smooth coffee with a medium body.

The term 'honey' refers to the sticky, honey-like feel of the beans during processing, not the taste.

In the semi-washed process, the beans are partially washed before being dried with some mucilage still attached.

This process results in a cup that combines the clean taste of a washed coffee with the body and complexity of a natural process coffee.


Fox Coffee: Championing Diversity in Processing

At Fox Coffee, we appreciate the diverse flavours brought about by these processing methods.

It's a complexity we love to share with our customers.

We offer a selection of beans processed using different methods, each imparting its distinct characteristics to the brew.

Our Hunter Blend, for instance, incorporates washed beans from Costa Rica and Sumatra, striking a delicate balance between acidity and body.

Meanwhile, our single-origin offerings provide an opportunity to explore how processing can highlight the unique characteristics of a specific growing region.

In our journey with coffee, we've learnt that processing methods are more than just a step in coffee production; they are the unseen artist, painting layers of flavours onto a blank green bean canvas. And it's our job, as coffee lovers and enthusiasts, to appreciate this art in every cup we brew.

In conclusion, the magic of coffee lies not only in the beans themselves, but also in the process they undergo to reach our cups. Each method tells its own story, impacting the flavours and characteristics of the coffee we love. As you enjoy your next cup of Fox Coffee, remember the journey that each bean has taken. It truly is a world of flavour in a cup!


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