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What is The Honey Process in Coffee?

Updated: Mar 1

Coffee beans, prior to roasting, are green seeds which come from the centre of a coffee cherry. Coffee cherries grow on a coffee bush or small tree.

After coffee cherries are harvested, they need to go through some method of processing. This processing can add certain flavour characteristics, and usually depends on how costly and risky the processing is for the farmer. Despite the name, the honey process doesn't involve using honey or bees. The word honey is used because its translates from the spanish word miel. Hence miel or honey processing comes from Spanish speaking Central American countries like El Salvador and Costa Rica.

No actual Honey used in coffee!

In honey processing, coffee is mechanically depulped, with a certain level of coffee cherry fruit remaining on the seeds, Then laid out on large concrete patios to dry in the sun.

The key appeal for farmers to honey process their coffees is to increase desirable characteristics like body, sweetness, and to reduce acidity. The amount of coffee mucilage on the seed has a positive correlation with the characteristics above. Body is how full and heavy feeling the coffee feels in the mouth. To describe acidity in coffee is like the acidity you'd find in a crisp sweet granny smith apple. The sweetness from the honey process is like a heavy biscuit sweetness, which goes hand in hand with increased body.

What Makes Brazil Mio Peaberry Coffee Special?

The Brazil Mio Peaberry Coffee goes through a red honey process, meaning around 50% of the cherry mucilage remains on the seed whilst the coffee is being dried. The aim for these farmers is to give a distinct modest level of body and sweetness, whilst retaining some of the fruity notes unique to this coffee. To achieve this, farmers at Mio washing station adopt an experimental processing method they have tried and tested to deliver exceptional results.

Brazil Mio Peaberry
Brazil Mio Peaberry - Red Honey Processed

This lot is raised on traditional beds to be carefully hand-sorted, then put through a floatation tank, all to remove any unwanted under ripe and low density cherries. For drying, the coffee is laid very thin on drying beds between 12 and 3pm to receive full exposure from the sun; mitigating the risk of over fermentation. As the coffee dried, it is thrown into larger piles so the moisture content is even, leading to even drying results. The coffee dried for 35 days, being turned by day, and covered by night.

The results are green peaberry seeds which have a unique orange colouring from the red honey process. Roasting and drinking this coffee is a delight, not only because of its rich and well balanced sweetness, but also an appreciation for the labour of careful attention that went it's processing. We hope you enjoy this cup as much as we do. We highly recommend this on espresso!

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