Dry and Wet Processing

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
To prepare coffee beans, the ripe coffee berries are picked from the trees, and the seeds cleaned of the fruit pulp by one of two basic methods. In the dry method, the berries are left in the sun to dry, or first piled to ferment for a few days, then spread out in the sun. The fruit is then removed by machine. In the wet method, most of the pulp is rubbed from the seeds by machine, then the remainder is liquefied by a day or two of fermentation by microbes. The seeds are then washed in copious water, dried to about 10% moisture, and the adherent inner “parchment shell” removed by machine. Some sugars and minerals are leached out of wet-processed beans, so they tend to produce coffee with less body and more acidity than dry-processed beans. However they often have more aroma, and tend to be of more uniform quality.