Honey processing is a term used to describe a process after harvest when the skin of the coffee cherry is washed off at a wet mill, leaving the pulp and/or mucilage generally intact on the coffee seeds before they are dried. The amount of mucilage you leave on the seed influences the cup flavours, with the different ones typically classified into five gradations, named here in descending order of amount of mucilage left on the seed: black, red, gold, yellow and white honey.
Honey processing is achieved with either a traditional pulper that separates only the seeds from the cherry, or with a depulper and a mechanical washer. With the traditional pulper, all the “honey” is left intact, allowing the producer to manipulate factors such as parchment thickness and how often seeds are turned. With the depulper and mechanical washer, meanwhile, friction is used to remove the mucilage. “Depending on how you calibrate, you can remove a different amount of mucilage resulting in different colours of honey,” says Bram De Hoog, green coffee buyer for Ally Coffee. “This is further influenced by bed thickness while drying.”
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