Processing occurs after harvesting, and is the method in which the coffee beans are removed from the outer cherry. The various methods of processing impact the overall flavor of coffee.
Three main processing methods are used today:
Washed (or wet)
Cherries are soaked in water and the fruit is removed from the bean. Beans then ferment to remove residual mucilage. After approximately 36 hours, the beans are dried for 5-7 days on large patios and raked or turned to ensure even drying. This process overall increases the acidity in the coffee.
Cherries are washed and de-pulped then rinsed and dried. No fermentation takes place and therefor, it results in earthy big bold flavors found in Asia-Pacific Coffees
Natural (or dry)
The cherry dries right on the bean and then hulled. This method produces very fruity notes of Brazilian and Ethiopian coffees.