Honey Process

"Red honey" process gesha at a coffee farm in Costa Rica's Central Valley growing region.
"Red honey" process gesha at a coffee farm in Costa Rica's Central Valley growing region.
"Red honey" process gesha at a coffee farm in Costa Rica's Central Valley growing region.
“Red honey” process gesha at a coffee farm in Costa Rica’s Central Valley growing region.

The honey process has nothing to do with honey other than the fact that they’re both sticky! It’s a term that became popularized in Costa Rica as another way to describe the pulp natural process. Specifically, the honey/pulp natural processes involve mechanically removing the outer cherry skin from coffee beans within, while leaving the sticky fruit mucilage intact. In wet processing you remove the mucilage by fermenting the coffee, and then washing it away. But with honey processing, fermentation is bypassed altogether and the fruit-covered coffee beans are sent straight to dry. I would guess that the name “honey” comes from the mucilage becoming very sticky to the touch, and also the range of color that is produced in the outer layer of drying fruit that resembles the different colors of honey – from a light golden color (“yellow honey”), to more of an amber color (“red honey”), to an even darker hue that is almost black (“black honey”). The impact honey processing has on flavor varies, but it’s known to boost body, tone down acidity, and even bring out fruitier flavors. It also presents an attractive option in dryer regions as the process uses very little water.

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