Tag Archives: honey process

Honey Processed Coffee in Laos

Laos isn’t the first region to top coffee drinkers list, but that is fast changing in part to Bolaven Farms direct trade organic beans. This farm is one of the many success stories of the Crop Share Training program there. The work of the son of a Laotian immigrant to Canada, the program trains farmers and shares the profits with trainees who then invest in their own farms. To boot, the coffee is as tasty as any of the best from around the world. They also have instituted a trending coffee processing technique, honey-processed coffee.

Honey processed organic coffee from Bolaven Farms
Honey processed coffee from Bolaven Farms

From fruit to cup: The Bolaven Farms limited release Arabica that you received in the Coffee Crates this month, begin their life in the mountains of Northern Laos along the Mekong River. Shade grown, then picked, skins removed, and dried with partial pulp or mucilage still attached to the bean, which is referred to as the honey process. Why is this so interesting and consequential to us coffee lovers? There are several factors that contribute to the flavor profile of coffee, and one of those variables is processing method used. As Coffee Review says so well “variations in processing that are carefully and mindfully pursued can alter the sensory properties of coffee in amazing and exciting ways.”

honey processed

The traditionally used method of processing coffee is “washed” or “wet” processed, wherein first the skins and fruit is removed through light fermentation, then washed to remove the remaining mucilage and finally dried, usually in the sun. While this method has produced consistency in the industry, the approach has a heavier environmental footprint than natural or honey processes because of the high quantity of water used. And from a drinker’s perspective, we believe coffee is much more exciting when there are vibrant variations in the notes that can be hit in each cup.

Honey processed organic coffee from Bolaven Farms Laos
Honey processed organic coffee from Bolaven Farms Laos

Back to the honey processed Bolaven Farm’s bean we featured in this month’s Coffee Crate, when we first cupped the sample from Torch Coffee Roasters in Raleigh, NC it was excited to find hints of butterscotch contrasted with grassy herbs. This coffee’s story begins on those tropical highlands in Laos, which experience a heavy rainy season, grown organically in the shade, then meticulously processed using the honey processing method, by a community of farmers that participate in the Crop-share Training Program that provides land, housing, training, coffee plants, tools and 36% of the total profits. And finally sent to Torch Coffee Roasters in Raleigh and delicately roasted to highlight the unique profile this bean has to offer. Enjoy!

Coffee Crate, what’s it all about?

We believe that coffee tastes better when there’s an empowering story of love and respect that connects us to the origin of the beans.

We are an online coffee subscription and gift service, providing carefully curated roasts from local North Carolina roasters, delivered every month to your door. We work with roasters who connect with the story of where their beans come from, and who uphold ethical standards of sustainability and labor. In this way, we curate the highest quality beans and carefully package them with creativity and love.

We continuously taste an assortment of beans from local roasters who take pride in their craft and strive to produce uniquely delicious coffees. We place an emphasis on working with roasters who work directly with the farms. Some of the growers are engaged in community empowerment, such as women owned cooperatives, local education and community health.

When selecting beans for Coffee Crate, our emphasis is on the virtuous delight of not only an ethically sourced product, but also one that activates the senses of our body and mind.

Together with a locally crafted goodie, we deliver delicious right to your door.

What’s the Diff?! Dynamite Roasting explains coffee process. Washed, Honey, Natural!

What’s the Diff?!?!

Have you ever wondered why coffee bags are sometimes labeled with a variety of descriptions for “process”? Wet, dry, washed, sun-dried, partial washed, oh and were the honey processed beans dipped in honey? All of this lingo can be quite perplexing at times. After Coffee Crate‘s recent visit to Dynamite Coffee’s roasting facility in Black Mountain, North Carolina, I felt like I had a better understanding of the nuances of the different methods of processing coffee. Andy Gibbon from Dynamite breaks it down into 3 basic categories: Washed (wet), Honey processed (partial wash), and Natural (dry, unwashed). It started making sense why one coffee could taste really clean, bright and super fruity (Washed) and another coffee might be heavy and sweet (Natural).
coffee plant : coffee process
coffee plant : coffee process

Coffee Processes explained

“After a coffee is picked, a decision must be made by the farmer as to how the bean will be processed. The choice may be made based on tradition or available resources, or to develop a new flavor in the coffee. In general, there are three processing methods used to dry coffee, with each developing very different flavors in the bean. 
Cupping at Dynamite Coffee Roasters : coffee process
Cupping at Dynamite Coffee Roasters : coffee process
Natural (or dry) process:
The natural process produces coffee that is heavy in body, sweet, fruity, and complex. Whole coffee cherries are sorted and laid out on a patio or screen to dry before the dried fruit is removed by a milling machine. The natural process is often used in countries where rainfall is scarce and long periods of sunshine are available to dry the coffee properly. 
Coffee process: pulped and natural processed, drying
Coffee process: pulped and natural processed, drying
Washed (or wet) process:
In the washed process, coffee is sorted by flotation before being fermented in a large tank of water. This causes the pulp and mucilage to break down so it can be rinsed away with water. The seed is then dried in the sun or by mechanical methods.
Coffee process : coffee wet process
Coffee process : coffee wet process
This process results in a coffee that is cleaner, brighter, and fruitier than natural processed coffee. Most countries with coffee valued for its perceived acidity, will process their coffee using the washed process.
Coffee Process : coffee sun drying after wet process
Coffee Process : coffee sun drying after wet process
Pulped Natural/Honey Process:

The pulped natural method consists of pulping a coffee, but limiting the fermentation stage, leaving some of the mucilage intact.  This results in a beverage that has characteristics of both a natural and washed process coffee. 

Coffee Process : honey processed
Coffee Process : honey processed

It is often sweeter than washed coffees, has some of the body of a natural coffee, but also retains some of the acidity of a washed coffee. This type of processing can only occur in countries where the humidity is low and the coffee covered in the sweet mucilage can be dried rapidly without fermenting.”

Andy Gibbon, Dynamite Roasting Co. explains the difference between coffee process methods


Here’s some of the pics from my Dynamite Coffee visit!

Josh Gibbs , partner at Dynamite Roasting Co. and Stu Helm, Asheville Food Fan checking out the roaster 23 kilo machine from US Roaster Corp in Oklahoma City
23 kilo machine from US Roaster Corp in Oklahoma City with lovely custom red accents.
Andy Gibbon, partner at Dynamite Roasting Co. and Stu Helm, Asheville Food Fan prepping some single origins for sampling. It’s smells like someone is baking a fruit pie! Oh and brewing coffee.