Honey Processed Coffee…..our new sweetheart
There are two major methods for processing fresh picked coffee cherries. The original method, or dry process, removes nothing, drying the fruit whole. Washed process removes the skin (de-pulping), removes the mucilage (the fruity layer of the cherry between skin and parchment), and then dries the bean. In between these two lies a sweet spot, honey processed coffee. The defining characteristic of this process is the retention of mucilage on the beans during drying. This small difference is truly transformative.
Classes of Honey Processed Coffee
Classification of this method is based on the retention of mucilage prior to drying. After the ripe cherries are picked and sorted they are pulped, and the decision of how much of the thick sticky sweet mucilage to retain is made. If all or most of the mucilage remains, this produces Black honey coffee. Eighty percent yields Red honey, fifty gives us Yellow, twenty-five Golden, and ten percent produces the subtle White honey. The secret of honey processed coffee is the magic of fermentation that takes place with the mucilage that remains on the beans. During the drying process, naturally occurring bacteria and yeasts undergo a transformation on the mucilage that imparts a unique taste to the resultant coffee. Controlling the fermentation rate by rotation of beans, and exposure to light produces optimum results. Attention and observation must be continuous during fermentation. Even small batches must be properly husbanded to avoid under or over-fermentation, and rot. When skillfully completed to it’s fruition, honey processed coffee is simply SWEET!
Distinctive Taste of Honey Processed Coffee
The amount of sweetness in honey processed coffee is dependent on the amount of mucilage allowed to ferment on the beans. The higher the retention of mucilage the sweeter the taste of the coffee. The action of the bacteria and yeasts perform an enzymatic breakdown of the sugars and pectin present in the mucilage to elicit a wonderful taste profile. Complex fruit notes and flowery aromas are very common in honey processed coffee and the sweetness is noteworthy. Another benefit of fermentation is a reduction in the acidity of honey processed coffee compared to wet or dry process methods. This renders a coffee more easily enjoyed by coffee lovers with sensitive stomachs. Using cold brew to prepare honey processed coffee is even more advantageous for individuals in this beleaguered group,
Environmental considerations of Honey processed coffee
Some significant reductions in water consumption are realized in honey processed coffee when compared to wet processed coffee. Wet processed coffee uses a vast amount of water to remove the mucilage. Simply retaining some or all of the mucilage reduces water needs. Some dry processed coffee is mechanically dried. By removing pulp, the honey process can dry faster, minimizing the need of any mechanical manipulation. Honey processed coffee is sun cured and air dried. Careful and continuous monitoring dictates the the farmers decision of when to turn the drying beans, timing their exposure to sun and air to achieve desired results. This is where the connection between the skilled farmer and his land, along with his intimate relationship with it’s gifts, produces SWEET ART!
Don Oscar’s Finca Cual Bicicleta Red honey
We are lucky to offer as our first honey processed coffee an exquisite Honduran red honeyed yellow bourbon. Through skill and love, Oscar Omar Alonzo has produced a very highly regarded micro lot on his hillside Finca. Finca Cual Bicicleta rests at a gracious 1550 meters above sea level, providing ideal conditions for an old school classic yellow bourbon cultivar, that yields an excellent coffee.
Don Oscar pictured above, sporting his signature white hat
Don Oscar’s choice of honey process makes for an awesome taste experience. Organically grown in the remote hills of Chinacla Marcala La Paz Honduras, the terroir is truly stunning, and so craftily expressed in the red honey process. Red honey retains most of the mucilage which allows for ample fermentation to develop a deep and rich profile of both flavor and aroma. Don Oscar delivers a rare and excellent bean that we are proud to roast and offer to you.