When selecting a coffee, you will note that often its processing method is communicated. This will usually be via a simple ‘washed’ or ‘natural’ (unwashed). This is worth noting as you will get a distinctively different coffee experience because of these factors, even when it’s the same coffee!
A washed coffee, or ‘wet processed’, has had the outer pulp of the cherry removed, then placed in fermentation tanks before being washed and placed out to dry. The result is often a coffee with a great clarity of flavour while exhibiting a bright complex acidity to match. A very popular method with producers as the fermentation process is controlled and leads to less defects.
A natural processed coffee is a coffee that has been dried with the cherry still intact on the bean. Throughout the drying process the fruit flesh and sugars impart flavour and sweetness upon the seed. The result is often a ‘fruit bomb’ with a spectacular aroma and has wine like characteristics. These are the two more common methods available, but many others exist, such as Honey Processed (somewhere between Washed and Natural) and Wet Hulled.