Did you notice something new on the sign the last time you went to a local coffee shop? Well, it's not a new type of coffee, and it often goes unnoticed. It's honey and pulped natural coffee.
Despite the growing popularity of this coffee, many don't know what it is. In this article, I am going to explain honey and pulped natural coffees.
Looking at the name on the sign, you may assume honey is used in this coffee, but it's not. The "honey" is a relatively new term used to describe coffee. It refers to the amount of mucilage covering the parchment of the coffee.
How is coffee processed?
Typically, there are two methods of processing coffees.
Unwashed or Natural Coffees
This method is also known as "dry in the fruit," or the natural way of making coffee. The newly harvested coffee cherry is sorted out and dried in the sun, and the bean is kept entirely encased inside the fruit. The cherries are spaced evenly to ensure even drying. It can take four weeks to dry the coffee cherries thoroughly. This practice helps retain most of the fruity taste in the bean.
This is also called the "wet process." The cherry is pulped, removing the outer skin of the cherry using a specialized machine called a de-pulper. All of the fruit residue (including both skin and pulp) is removed before drying. The fruit pulp of the coffee cherries is washed to reveal the beans. Once the beans are separated, then the process of drying begins.
Of all the methods, washed coffee is the most common method and produces the best quality coffee. However, the washed coffee method requires an immense amount of water, which is terrible for the environment.
These two processes form the ends of the spectrum. Between them, there are a few hybrid processing techniques.
There's a lack of consensus about the exact meaning of this term. This term can refer to different methods in different places. However, it applies to any process whose goal is removing some portion of the fruit mucilage, but to leave some intact. After the outer skin is removed, the beans are left to dry in the sun. Seeds are stored overnight and then washed the next day. The rate of fermentation is affected by overnight temperature, which in turn determines the amount of remaining mucilage. This method is used by small producers in Indonesian growing regions such as Sumatra, Sulawesi, and Aceh.
The honey and pulped natural process is a new method of producing coffee. It's a compromise between the dry and wet methods.
Pulped Natural Coffees
Pulped natural coffee originated in Brazil about twenty years ago. This process is similar to the washed technique, except that it removes mucilage using a powerful blast of water. This skips the fermentation stage entirely. The drying step starts directly after de-pulping rather than undergoing fermentation. Coffee changes its color during the drying process from clear to amber, resulting in a honey-like appearance. As I mentioned earlier, that natural process may take a long time, but the pulped natural process allows more speed and control.
Want to try it? You can find Brazil Pulped Natural Coffee at Nook Bakery & Coffee Bar. Their coffee has gotten the third-highest rating for coffees from Brazil.
Honey Processed Coffees
Some coffee processing techniques are a slight deviation of pulped natural, such as the honey process. In this process, the skin of the coffee cherry is removed. The seed is then allowed to dry with some amount of mucilaginous layer. The process is quite similar to how pulped coffees are processed. One key difference is that honey processed coffees are slightly more acidic since they undergo a little bit of fermentation. Another difference is the profile flavor between the two. Pulped natural lots from Brazil differ from many honey lots as they don't have an intense fruity flavor, but slightly nutty or chocolate notes.
Degree of Honey
When it comes to colors, you may have heard that coffee fruit is green. However, when it matures, it changes from green to deep red or sometimes yellowish red. Some farmers in Costa Rica have assigned different colors to their honey processed coffee, depending upon the amount of light they get while drying.
Yellow honey: This term is used by farmers in Central America to describe the same process as semi-washed. It is exposed to the most light and most heat. Drying time depends on weather conditions.
Red honey: This term is mostly used in Central America. It is very similar to pulp natural. The only difference is that the thick coat of mucilage turns red as the beans are dried.
Black honey: Producers in Costa Rica use this term. It gets very little heat exposure. As the name implies, when the coffee is dried, it takes on a very dark color.
Honey and Pulped Natural Coffee: How does it taste?
Since you have a better understanding of the different coffee processing methods now, let's look at an important question: how does it taste?
The coffee produced using the natural process tends to have a relatively sweet taste. You will notice a hint of fruit in the final cup, as well as a slightly acidic and sweeter aftertaste. The sweetness is directly dependent on the amount of mucilage present in the coffee. Some coffee makers keep as much mucilage as possible in the final product to retain sweetness, while others remove it. The higher the honey content, the sweeter the taste. If you like sweet notes in a cup of coffee, then you will love this natural process for coffee. There are many environmental benefits of the honey process. That is why many countries have adopted this newer process of producing coffee.
Environmental Benefits of Honey and Pulped Processing
- It reduces water pollution. When coffee is processed using the wet method, a downside is water waste. This water has a high content of acidic sugar. Unfortunately, many farmers allow it to flow into local streams. This high concentration of acidic sugars results in bacterial growth, which is harmful to both human and animal life. When the honey and pulp method is followed, less water is used, which reduces the number of contaminants flowing into local streams.
- It helps with water conservation since this process utilizes much less water. This method should be used in dry areas.
Honey and pulped natural coffee is an environmentally friendly way of producing coffee, and it tastes great. So if next time someone offers you a sweet and aromatic brew of honey or pulped natural coffee, go for it! You may fall in love with this new experience. Also, don't forget to share this experience with us.