• QA 053
    Which are the main processing systems to produce green coffee beans from coffee cherries?
    What are the main processing systems to bring coffee cherries to green coffee beans? I understand there are different options and I'm looking for a clear description of these to pass on to agriculture students in my class.
    Asked by:
    Teacher - Russian Federation

    The two main traditional systems are: wet processing using water, and dry processing using no water. These are clearly described in topic box 11.01.01 whereas topic box 11.01.02 provides a schematic overview of both processes. Wet processed coffee is usually called 'washed' whereas dry processed coffee is mostly known as 'natural'. Coffee quality generally is discussed in some considerable detail in chapter 11 - Coffee quality.

    Over time the traditional wet process has evolved into a much more efficient system, using relatively little water and taking great care with the treatment of waste. Websites where one can view some of today's modern equipment include www.pinhalense,com.br and  www.penagosclausen.com .

    The dry process has evolved an interesting variation, developed in Brazil. Here the cherries are pulped as in the wet process but then they are dried immediately, without any further processing so with the mucilage adhering to the parchment. The obvious advantage is that the tonnage to be dried is reduced considerably but a further plus is that the quality, the taste of this coffee is better and more stable than what is delivered by the original 'natural' process. These coffees are known today as 'pulped naturals' and we expect their importance to grow over time, thus creating a third important processing system. For more on this see also QA 008 in the Q&A Archive on this site. Other interesting sites from which to gather information on coffee generally include www.ico.org, www.supremo.be and www.sustainable-coffee.net.   More scientific information can be found at www.café-asic.org.

    Posted 22 October 2005

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