This process goes by several names dependent on origin including ‘pulped natural’, ‘semi-washed’ and ‘semi-lavado’. It sits almost directly in between the washed and natural process and can result in coffees with intense sweetness.
Firstly, the ripe cherries are picked and taken to washing stations where they are pulped to remove the skin of the cherry, leaving the bean encased in its sticky mucilage. Cherries can be pulped using friction whereby the skin is removed by rubbing cherries together between metal disks, or by force where the amount of mucilage removed can be determined mechanically. Once the cherries have been pulped, the end product is a bean encased in the sticky mucilage of the fruit. The discarded cherry skins are often used as compost for the forthcoming harvest, or are dried and used as ‘cascara’ which, when infused, can make a very refreshing tea which is a great palate cleanser (we hope to be offering some soon!).
At this stage, instead of being fermented and washed, the sticky beans are immediately laid to dry on patios or raised beds. It is important to turn the sticky beans regularly to maintain airflow and allow even drying to avoid the beans fermenting and the build-up of mould and rot. During the drying process, the mucilage dries onto the bean which absorbs some of the sugars and results in a slightly honeyed flavour. Once dry, the beans will have a slightly mottled appearance and will rest for a month in this state before being milled and sorted for shipment. Honey processed coffees often have a more rounded acidity than washed coffees with intense sweetness and complex mouthfeel.