If you love your coffee to have that full, earthy taste you should know that this taste is the main characteristic of dry process coffee.
Since I am a big fan of dry process coffee beans, I want to share with you some basics about the way they are produced and the characteristics.
The dry process is most traditional method of coffee processing. It is completely natural and it requests a lot of manual work, which gives some special note to each coffee bean.
Dry processing can be used only in countries which have proper climate conditions.
During processing, coffee beans are dried under the open sky (dry process coffee is also known as sun dried coffee) so proper environment is the main condition for it’s usage.
It demands stable weather, lots of sunny days and low level of humidity (or rain). This is why Brazil, Columbia and Arabian Peninsula countries are leading dry process coffee producers.
The fact that dry process is completely natural, all coffee types tolerate this processing method. This is why it can be used for both high and low quality coffee beans.
The dry process
Coffee beans go through several steps during dry processing:
Sorting and cleaning
Coffee fruit goes for sorting and cleaning. During this step all green and overripe beans, leaves and dirt are removed. This step is run by hand, using large sieves.
Coffee fruits (coffee cherries) are spread out in rows over the brick or concrete patios (in most cases). While drying, coffee beans are turned, usually by racking, so they can dry evenly.
Here is the main difference between dry and wet processing. In dry processing, pulp will not be removed before drying process, but it will dry together with coffee beans. This gives coffee beans specific taste and aroma.
Drying lasts for about three to four weeks (depending on weather conditions). When coffee moisture level is reduced from 60% (at the beginning) to optimum of 12.5%, the drying process is finished.
The third process is know as hulling process. It’s the only step in which machines are used. After drying, coffee beans go to hulling machine, where dried pulp is removed. Coffee beans are cleaned during this process. After this, all that is left is to classify and pack them.
Drying process will, in large amount, determine the final product quality. Drying needs to be done with a lot of care since it can ruin quality if not done properly. If coffee beans are dried less then they should and moisture is not at the proper level, coffee beans became the target of bacteria and fungus. Too much drying will at the other hand give easy breaking beans which can be ruined during hulling process. Also the taste and aroma will be mostly lost.
Dry process coffee aroma and taste
Dry process coffee beans have full-body, rich and less sharp taste. Instead of fruity aroma which is characteristic for wet process coffee beans, dry process coffee has more earthy aroma.
And when we remember that each coffee bean has been grown, harvested and dried with so much care and hard work invested, we really can understand why dry process coffee is so appreciated and has that amazing taste.