The Washed Process in Pictures

The Washed Process in Pictures

Most coffee consumed around the world is produced via the washed process, which involves fermenting coffee beans in water before washing them to remove remnants of the fruit of the coffee cherry. The washed process provides more consistent results than natural/dry processing, wet-hulling, or experimental processes.

Below, see the main steps of the process from freshly picked cherry to dried parchment coffee. Thanks to our Production Roaster Lara Prahm, who took these photos during her trip to Finca Los Planes in El Salvador last winter! 

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Ripe cherries are picked and collected. The color should be uniform, as in the photo below, without any yellow or green coloring at the tips of the cherries, which indicates underripe fruit.


The cherries are moved into a tile-lined collection tank.


From there, the cherries are sent through a depulper that removes the skin and fruit surrounding the inner seed.


Upon exiting the depulper the cherries are screened by size. Beans that are unusually large or not fully depulped are separated from the rest to ensure that the finished lot is consistent.


After depulping and sorting, coffee collects in a ceramic-lined tank to soak in fresh water.


At this point there is a layer of mucilage still clinging to the parchment (a protective layer that encases the seed). Typically the beans ferment for up to 18 hours in water, and then they are washed with fresh water to remove the remaining mucilage and stop fermentation.


After washing, parchment coffee is spread out on raised beds or patios to dry.


After a week or two of drying, including repeated turning to ensure that all the coffee dries at the same rate, the green coffee bean shrinks away from its protective parchment layer. A huller removes the parchment before the green coffee is collected in burlap bags to rest for two to three months prior to export.

For a more in-depth look at coffee processing methods, read Coffee Processing: An Introduction or Experimental Coffee Processing Methods, Explained on our blog.

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