Ethiopian Coffee Processing: A Firsthand Look

This video of Ethiopian coffee processing from Thompson’s travels provides a firsthand look at the wet and dry process methods.

We’ve refreshed this video post from 2017 to coincide with our most recent 10 lbs. “XL” Ethiopia Process Method Set. This coffee set features 5 lbs. each of wet and dry process coffees, and highlights the unique flavors and cup characteristics that are a bi-product.

I say “bi-product”, because coffee processing came about as a means to an end, that being to remove the coffee fruit from seed so that we can roast it. Obviously a lot has changed through the years, and flavor and intention are now often the drivers of processing innovation. For example, you’ll see in this video the amount of hand labor that goes into processing in Ethiopia, which plays a huge role in cup flavor and consistency.

Process is just one factor that affects flavor, and it’s important to understand that coffee from different origins processed in similar ways don’t taste the same (taste a Brazil dry process, for example). That’s why we stuck with a single origin for our set. Ethiopia specifically, as it produces some of the finest examples of both process methods.

From Thompson:

Workers turn the wet process parchment coffee as it dries on raised beds at the Hunda Oli cooperative in Agaro.
Workers turn the wet process parchment coffee as it dries on raised beds at the Hunda Oli cooperative in Agaro.

I wanted to show basic differences in the methods and to underscore the point that coffee is very labor-intensive, especially dry processed (natural) coffee.

This shows the basics of harvest and all the labor that goes into coffee. In my opinion, human labor is the most important aspect that makes coffee taste good … not “terroir” or variety. For a great coffee you need things to line up for sure.

You need altitude, weather, soils etc. But without the incredible hand selection of coffee at multiple points in the process, from picking fruit from the tree, to sorting the coffee in drying, to hand picking after milling, you won’t get the best possible quality.

It’s the reason we pay higher prices for Ethiopian coffee than others, far above the market, and far above the fair trade levels. -T.O.

Watch the video:

Check out our current XL Ethiopia processing sample set feature 10# of two delicious wet and dry process Ethiopian coffees.