Honey processing has started to gain the spotlight to differentiate specialty coffee beans. The process refers to the honey-like liquid that is produced before drying.
- PICK RED
Follow a strict “pick red” only harvesting protocol of coffee berries.
- FLOAT VERSUS SINK
After the berries are washed, flotation of berries is conducted to separate the floaters from the sinkers. Floater berries that have defects are discarded.
All sinkers are subjected to de-pulping. What results is a wet-parchment bean―or a coffee bean covered with mucilage―a sticky substance that has a high sugar content.
The processor has to decide what kind of honey-processed coffee beans he wants to produce. There are three options: yellow-honey, red-honey or black-honey processed coffee beans.
This wet-parchment bean is then laid out on elevated beds for drying.
Yellow-honey processed bean will have 25% mucilage left on the wet-parchment bean before drying. It is allowed to dry at maximum temperature of 70⁰C. Stirring of the drying beans is done every six hours until desired moisture content is reached. Drying time takes approximately four to seven days.
Red-honey processed bean will have 50% mucilage left on the wet-parchment bean before drying. It will be dried at a maximum temperature of 50⁰C. Stirring of the drying beans is done every hour for the first two days and every four hours onwards, to prevent fermentation and molds until desired moisture content is reached. Drying time will range from 10 to 15 days.
Black-honey processed bean will have 100% of the mucilage left with wet-parchment bean before drying. Maximum drying temperature is 40⁰C. Stirring of the drying beans is done every 30 minutes for the first three days and every hour onwards to prevent fermentation and mold formation. Drying time is approximately a total of 15 to 21 days.
The target moisture content to be attained is 12% to 14% MC, which is the allowable MC for dry parchment coffee beans for storage or milling.
The next process is de-hulling or milling to remove the hull or parchment covering the coffee bean, followed by polishing to remove the silver skin, the final covering of the coffee bean.
- DRY AGAIN
After milling, if the moisture content of the coffee bean is more than 12% MC, a final drying will be done to bring the moisture of the bean down to 12% MC, the maximum moisture allowed as per standard of the ICO for green coffee beans.
Honey processing of coffee beans is a long, tedious, and labor-intensive process. But if done properly it will result in a coffee brew with an exciting taste that interplays fruitiness and mild acidity with floral and woody notes.
(article by Glicerio Lumagbas / photos by Jennifer Rimando)