A Guide to Honey (Semi-Washed)Processing
What is Semi-Washed (Honey) Processing?
"Semi-Washed" in an umbrella term for any coffee process in which the skin but not the mucilage is removed from the bean in the wet-milling stage. Today, we'll be focusing predominantly on Honey's.
Honey processing is largely seen as a hybrid process between the Washed and Natural processes. At Republica, we manage 4 Semi-Washed processes. We perform Pulp Naturals, Yellow, Red and Black Honeys. Each process highlights different aspects and qualities in the cup profile. El Salvador has become world-renowned for it’s exceptional Honeys. Helping display a sweet, bright and clean profile that showcase the best of El Salvador.
Pulp Natural VS Honey?
Although essentially the same process; Pulp-Naturals and Honeys differ in some areas. Pulp Naturals tend lose some mucilage due to the small water current used to move them from the de-pulpers to the patios. Pulp-Naturals are also dried under full sun on clay patios.
In contrast, Honeys keep 100% of their mucilage and drying methods and times can vary. Yellow and Red Honeys dry the fastest and are usually dried under full to partial sun on clay patios or African beds. Black Honeys dry the slowest. They’re dried under full shade on African beds or tarps.
What makes a good Honey Processed Coffee?
Like Naturals, a properly processed Honey coffee will always be clean and free from any processing defects. Good Honey coffees should be more intense, complex, and fruity than Washed coffees. They should have an elevated sweetness a more pronounced acidity while retaining a balanced cup.
How do we achieve good Honey processed Coffees?
A good Honey processed coffee starts in the farm, by strictly selecting cherries. Since Honey processed coffees are usually not floated and do not go through washing steps, it is harder to remove defective beans. This can largely be avoided by selecting cherries that have reached peak ripeness.
Well processed Honeys should be clean and display more intense characteristics in contrast to washed coffees. Honey processed coffees should also be free from the regular processing defects should as unpleasant alcoholics, phenol, and other defects.
Finally, good dry milling practices to remove defective beans can contribute to a more uniform lot and a cleaner cup.
What are the benefits of Honey processing coffees?
Honey processed coffees allow coffee producers add value to their coffee and improve cup quality during the processing stages. This can help elevate the price of their coffee significantly (ranging between (0.30-0.50 c/LB USD)
Honey processed coffees also require far less water than washed coffees which can benefit coffee producing areas where water is scarce. They also don’t contaminate as much the local water supply, as the juices and mucilage of the coffee bean are dried alongside the bean, instead of being disposed into local rivers and streams.