Have you ever read a description of a coffee and seen something along the lines of "this is a dry processed coffee" or "this is a wet processed coffee"? Did you continue reading, thinking to yourself: "What does that mean?". Well, when I first got into the gourmet coffee scene I was also confused by these processing terms. So in this Bean Talk I plan to shed some light on these two processing techniques.
Let me start that both of these processing techniques are methods for removing the bean from the cherry. You see, we refer to coffee as "beans" but in reality they are "seeds". So the seeds are inside of an acidic cherry (pictured above). Once these are ripe, they are picked and then they need to be processed.
When the coffee is dry processed, it means that the cherry is removed without water. The cherries are laid out in the sunshine for three to four weeks. They are raked daily to ensure they dry evenly. After the outer cherry dries out, it becomes brittle and can be hulled away from the bean.
When the coffee is wet processed, the cherry is stripped from the bean immediately after harvesting. Then the beans are soaked for 12 to 36 hours to loosen the more inner layers. After soaking, the beans can be stripped completely from their skins.
So there you have it: a very quick explanation of the differences between the dry process and wet process of removing the cherry from the coffee bean. Impress your friends with your new coffee knowledge!