Honey Coffee Processing
Honey process (Café Miel) is an environmentally friendly method of processing ripe coffee cherries. Los Lajones was the first farm where we started developing this method. Currently, we are implementing Honey processing technique in El Salvador and other producing countries all over the world.
The basic principle of Honey method lies in picking only perfectly ripe cherries. We achieve this by measuring their sugar content (brix grades) during the ripening period.
At the end of each harvest day, freshly picked cherries are collected, weighted and pulped in manual or electrical pulpers. With their mucilage still fully attached, they are spread on African drying beds. These raised beds are made using locally sourced bamboo, wire mesh and black plastic netting (serán).
Depending on weather conditions, the usual drying cycle takes 10-12 days. At the end of this stage, the water content of the beans should be approx. 11 %.
The true benefit of Honey method is the lack of water used. Not a single drop is wasted for pulping, washing or fermenting. Therefore, comparing to the traditional washed method, there are provable savings of around 2000 l per bag of green beans (60 kg).
Honey method can be easily implemented in remote areas where it eliminates the difficulties with trucking freshly picked cherries to wet mills, usually situated far away from the farm. This often causes problems with unwanted fermentation during the trip and thus potential degradation of quality.
Another important advantage of Honey process is its economical factor. The cost of purchasing a single pulper is incomparable to investing into a fully equipped wet mill. Furthermore, using traditional African drying beds rather than mechanical dryers (guardiolas) saves huge amounts of electricity or fossil fuels. All this makes the Honey method the most environmentally friendly coffee processing technique at present time.
Impact on Cup Profile
The drying of the parchment with all the mucilage still attached has a direct impact on the sweetness of the cup. Honey coffees have generally very unique cup profile, characterized by its distinct sweetness, enhanced fruit notes and sweet acidity on the taste and aftertaste.