Processing and Drying the Cherries

There are three main methods used to process and dry coffee cherries: the dry process, the wet process, and the semidry process.

In the dry process, freshly picked cherries are spread out on the ground or on raised tables to dry in the sun. They are raked and turned throughout the day and covered at night to keep them from getting wet. When done properly, dry-processed coffee results in a smooth and heavy-bodied brew.

In the wet process, the freshly harvested cherries are passed through a pulping machine to separate the skin and pulp from the bean. The pulp and the beans are then separated by centrifugal force and a barrel screen system. After the pulp has been removed, the beans with their parchment skin are dried in the sun and/or in a hot air dryer. The wet process results in a clean, balanced flavor and a fruity acidity.

The semidry process is a hybrid process. In this relatively new process, the outer skin of the cherries is removed mechanically by wet grinding, using pulping machines, and the wet beans covered in mucilage are stored for one day. The mucilage is then washed off and the coffee beans are dried. The semidry process produces coffees that are heavy-bodied, earthy, and mildly acidic.