How coffee beans are handled before they're roasted has a big effect on what ends up in your cup. Here's what you need to know.

glass coffee decanter
Photography by Caitlin Bensel
| Credit: Photography by Caitlin Bensel


In the most common process, water or machines are used to remove the fruit that surrounds the beans. Washed coffee is typically a lighter-bodied brew with subtle floral or fruit flavors.

Natural (or Dry-Process)

These beans stay in their fruit for a couple of weeks after harvest rather than being immediately removed. This extra time creates more intense fruit flavor (blueberries, wine) and a syrupy body.

Honey (or Pulp Natural)

This is somewhere between washed and natural. The coffee fruit's skin, or pulp, is removed, but the beans are still covered in a sticky film while they dry, creating a jammy, nutty flavor.

Wet-Hulled (or Semi-Washed)

This Indonesia-specific process speeds the coffee bean's drying time in the humid climate. The beans are removed from the fruit and partially dried, then the outer hull is removed before the beans dry completely. Wet-hulled coffees tend to have earthy, smoky, savory notes.