Honey Processing

What is the structure of coffee cherry?

Coffee is the fruit of the tree, and the coffee bean is the core of the coffee fruit. So from the coffee fruit to the daily visible coffee beans, it actually needs to go through a series of complicated processing links.

the structure of coffee cherry
the structure of coffee cherry

First of all, botanically speaking, coffee beans are not “beans”, and the fruit of coffee belongs to fruit. True, it looks a lot like a bean, but judging from the fruit shape of the coffee plant, the coffee fruit is more peach-like than bean-like. What we usually call “coffee beans” are the seeds of coffee as a plant.

What is honey processing?

The honey process is a processing method between natural processing and washed processing. It is the method of drying the fruit with the endocarp after peeling off the pulp.

It gets its name because the water in the mucilage on the surface of the fruit core evaporates during the drying process and becomes as viscous as honey.

It allows the coffee to retain the cleanness of the washed process, although the brightness of the coffee is reduced, it increases the sweetness and caramel taste.

The honey process is a popular choice among coffee roaster manufacturers and small coffee bean roaster users, as it produces a balanced and complex flavor profile for the coffee. However, it also requires more skill and attention than other processing methods, as it involves careful monitoring of the drying time and temperature, as well as frequent turning and sorting of the beans.

What are the steps in honey processing?

  1. Screening (same as natural processing)

Pour the coffee beans into the large water tank, the underdeveloped low-quality beans will float to the surface, and the mature and full fruits will sink to the bottom of the water. At this time, the floating beans on the water surface are removed to complete the step of removing the floating beans.

Washed Processing Method


  1. Remove the peel (same as washed processing)

The screened coffee cherries will be put into the coffee peeling machine for peeling treatment. This step will remove the skin and pulp of the coffee cherries and retain the pectin layer. The pectin part is the part with the highest sugar content of coffee fructose, and it is also an important part of coffee processing and fermentation. It can be said that 80% of this part determines the nutrient supply during the processing.

Yellow honey: About 40% of the pectin is removed, the drying method requires the most direct heat absorption, and the most light drying, which lasts for about 8 days to reach a stable value of moisture content.

Red honey: About 25% of the pectin has been removed. Compared with yellow honey, the drying time is longer, and the time of direct sunlight exposure is reduced, and even used in a shade canopy for about 12 days.

Black honey: Almost no pectin is removed, and it takes the longest time to dry, at least 2 weeks. Use a cover to avoid too strong sunlight to prevent too fast drying, so that the sugar can be converted more fully.

A coffee that retains more pectin will end up with a richer, sweeter flavor.

  1. Sun drying

Unlike the washed process, the honey process retains some of the pectins for drying.

dry processing
dry processing

Spread the coffee beans with pectin on the exposure field for direct exposure. The drying treatment will reduce the moisture content of the coffee beans to about 11%. The time will be about 18 to 25 days, which will be determined according to the climate and the experience of the processor Decide.

What are the flavors of honey processing?

The flavor is better, the acidity and sweetness are balanced, and the same as the sun-dried method, because the coffee beans have been sun-dried, the aroma of the coffee beans themselves will also be amplified, and the mellow taste is strong.

What are the pros and cons of honey processing?


It is an improved method of the sun-drying method. Since the pulp is removed at the beginning, there will be no problem with mold. It does not need to consume a lot of water, and the cost is low. It also allows the coffee roaster manufacturers to have more control over the roasting process, as they can choose from different types of honey processed beans, such as yellow, red, or black. Some coffee roaster manufacturers also use small coffee bean roasters to test the quality and flavor of the honey processed beans before roasting them in large batches.


The processing steps can be said to be sun exposure and water washing, the most complicated and labor-intensive of the two methods. It also requires a lot of skill and experience from the processor, as the pectin layer can easily affect the drying speed and the final moisture content of the beans. If the beans are not dried properly, they can develop sour or fermented flavors, which can ruin the taste of the coffee. Moreover, the honey processing method is not suitable for all kinds of coffee beans, as some varieties may not have enough sweetness or acidity to balance the pectin flavor. Therefore, the processor needs to use a professional coffee roasting machine or an automatic coffee roasting machine to adjust the roasting time and temperature according to the characteristics of the beans. A sample coffee roaster machine can also be used to compare the results of different roasting methods and find the optimal one.

In conclusion, honey processing has been widely used in recent years. Based on sustainable development, this treatment not only helps growers reduce costs and increase yields but also allows consumers to taste a richer and more diverse taste. However, it also poses some challenges and risks for the processor and the roaster, who need to use advanced equipment and techniques to ensure the quality and consistency of the coffee.

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