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Compare 3 coffee processing methods


Currently, there are three common coffee processing methods applied by many establishments. Each technique will have its own characteristics, suitable for different purposes. They have advantages and disadvantages. Let’s learn about these 3 methods as well as the similarities and differences between them!


Three common coffee processing methods


Coffee production facilities often prioritize using one of the primary processing methods: dry, wet, semi-wet. The primary processing method plays an important role, affecting the quality of coffee beans.

The primaryprocessing of coffee is separating the coffee bean from the main coffee fruit, removing the outer layer of skin and protective mucus. This process has a great impact on the quality of the coffee beans. Even if the coffee is harvested carefully, correctly and according to the process, the processing is not correct and appropriate, the value of the coffee cannot be guaranteed. Preliminary processing errors can increase defects and lose the advantages of the product.


Dry coffee processing method


The dry pre-processing method is also known as the natural method. The dry pre-processing process uses the original coffee cherries to dry in the sun. The method allows the beans to absorb all the fruity flavors hidden in the ripe coffee cherries. Coffee meets the standards when it has a moisture content of 10-12%. This method is mainly done manually, using very little machinery (if any).

>>> Learn more about this method in the article: Coffee Natural Processing Method


Wet coffee processing method


This method requires the use of specific equipment and significant amounts of water. This is a complicated preliminary processing process with the following stages: removing the meat surrounding the coffee beans; fermenting coffee beans; dried to obtain green coffee beans. Removing the flesh in the coffee cherries before it is dried reduces the risk compared to drying the cherries (such as further fermentation); resulting in higher value coffee beans.

>>> Learn more about the method of preparing wet coffee in the article: Coffee – Washed Processing Method


Semi-wet coffee processing method (honey)


The semi-wet coffee processing method is also known as the honey method. Although also known as honey, honey is not used in this method.

With this method, the coffee cherries after being harvested are removed from the skin and part of the inner flesh, and the coffee beans are dried on a drying rack or yard for a certain time. The remaining pulp surrounding the kernel accelerates the fermentation process compared to natural (dry/natural) processing methods. It is a perfect combination of dry pretreatment and wet pretreatment.

>>> Learn more about this method at the article: Coffee Semi-washed Processing Method


Compare 3 coffee processing methods


Each coffee processing method will have its own process and use. Specifically:




Of the three coffee processing methods, dry processing has the simplest process.

Method Dry processing methods Wet processing method Semi-wet processing method

– Sorting coffee beans according to ripeness

– Long drying: Fresh coffee beans are placed on a large yard or raised bed and left to ferment and dry for 2-4 weeks. During this time, they are raked regularly so that they do not become moldy. When one wants to shorten the time, one can use a dryer.

– Peel and dry

– Sorting and preliminarily processing coffee beans: The harvested coffee is put into a water tank to remove the floating pods along with other impurities; such as branches, leaves, mud mixed with ripe fruit…

– Separation of the fruit pulp: Separate the fruit pulp from the coffee beans.

– Fermentation: Fermentation time should be carefully controlled. Fermenting for too long will adversely affect the taste.

– Clean and dry: After fermentation, coffee is washed to remove impurities clinging to coffee beans. After that, the coffee beans are spread out to dry in the sun. When drying, it is necessary to stir evenly so that the coffee dries evenly, without moisture and mold. In case of lack of sunlight or increased humidity, some manufacturers will use a dryer to dry the beans; reduce the moisture content of the seeds to 11% – 12%.

– Removes the outer shell like a scratch, but retains a part of the mucous membrane

– Drying: The second drying step begins when the coffee turns dark green with a moisture content of about 10% – 12%, similar to the standard moisture level of semi-wet coffee.


Advantages and disadvantages of 3 coffee processing methods


As mentioned, each processing method has its own advantages and disadvantages. Specifically:

  Dry processing method Wet processing method Seni-wet processing method
Advantages Easy to do, doesn’t take too much effort. Coffee beans must undergo fermentation by enzymes themselves or with the participation of the enzyme system of microorganisms. Therefore, it helps to preserve the maximum amount of acid in pure coffee beans. Thereby ensuring the characteristic natural acidity of each type; should create a flavor favored by coffee connoisseurs. Reduces a large amount of water in the mucus washing process
Disadvantages Take time. Coffee beans take an extremely long time to dry, which can lead to a moldy condition inside. Especially, when the weather is not favorable, lack of sunshine, leading to low quality coffee. Therefore, for high-end coffee lines, this method will be limited Operators must be knowledgeable about berries. Furthermore, the fermentation process should be closely monitored to avoid the formation of undesirable flavors due to fermentation. At the same time, this method is also quite expensive: requires high costs, uses many machines and large amounts of water.  


Different tastes


Method Dry processing method Wet processing method Semi-wet processing method
Taste Coffee is more sweet, less sour, bringing more flavor to the cup of coffee. Uniform taste, clean, citrus sour taste outstanding coffee quality.

Rich flavor, deep sweet aftertaste, thick body coffee.

This method usually yields the following flavors: chocolate, caramel, spices and nuts

Preliminary methods of coffee processing play an important role in ensuring the quality of coffee beans, creating a scent suitable for the target audience. Each type of coffee will have its own methods of use. Specifically, high-grade coffees will rarely use dry pre-processing, while wet pre-processing is often applied to high-quality Arabica lines, semi-wet pre-processing is used a lot in Central and South America.

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