Once the coffee is picked and sorted, the beans must be separated from the fruit and the coffee must be dried. The order in which this is done will greatly impact the flavor of the resulting coffee. Two key processing methods are used: natural (or dry) and washed (or wet).
Natural (Dry) Process
Natural processing involves drying the entire coffee fruit intact, leaving a brittle shell around the coffee bean that is then mechanically separated once the fruit is sufficiently dry. This process — popular in Brazil, Sumatra and Ethiopia among others — brings a higher risk of defects. However, when well executed, it can result in sweet, full-bodied coffees.
Dry Process = Dry, then separate
Washed (Wet) Process
In wet processing, freshly picked coffee fruits are pulped (mechanically separating the seed from the fruit), then the slippery mucilage that remains is removed through controlled fermentation, or in some cases, using a mechanical demucilator. This method produces clean, bright-toned, lighter-bodied coffees and carries a lower risk of defects. It is the process of choice in Colombia, Central America, Kenya and many other coffee producing countries.
Wet Process = Separate, then dry