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Coffee Drying

Updated: Jul 7, 2023

After the harvest, the drying or benefiting of the coffee continues, which consists of a series of steps or processing stages to which the coffee is subjected to remove or eliminate all its layers or covers in the most efficient way, without affect its quality and yield.

The members of Alto Cajamarca use two methods: Wet Mill (or washed) and Dry Process (or natural).

In the dry or natural process, the beans are dried inside the cherry trees, without removing the shell. They are then spread out on African beds (raised trays) turning regularly so they can ferment evenly. During the night they are covered so that they do not absorb night humidity. Its humidity index should reach 10 - 12%. This process has become popular because it uses less water, energy and investment in materials.

Selection of ripe or immature cherry trees prior to pulping, drying.

​On the other hand, in the wet or washed processing method, the pulp and mucilage of the coffee are released, since the cherry trees are subjected to a pulper and fermentation tanks. The process begins by introducing the cherry trees into a water tank that allows the ripe ones to be separated from the immature ones and debris (peels, leaves, branches, etc.) since the mature cherry trees, being heavier, will go to the bottom and the rest, it will float.

Drying methods of cherry trees influence the aroma profile of coffee

After the harvest and other processes such as pulping, fermentation and/or washing, the coffees will go to the African beds, where they will be dried very carefully, taking into account certain factors such as temperature, ventilation, humidity and time. In addition, every so often it is removed for uniform drying and to avoid fungus or over fermentation.

Coffee Drying

In all processes, drying is carried out under care of temperature, ventilation, humidity and time, until the humidity of the coffee bean reaches between 10 and 12%.

How important is drying in the coffee process?

The quality result of the coffee depends on the care of each one of the actors in the value chain, from the soil, the plants, the harvest, the fermentation and the drying, and we can say that if this stage is not carried out with the necessary care, a good coffee will not be obtained despite having satisfactorily achieved the previous stages.

Although it is true that in the drying stage the objective is to reduce the humidity to 11%, what happens in the coffee beans is a physical and chemical change, since when they are dried at very high temperatures they can alter the correct coffee process, which is reflected in the activity of the water, preventing it from being stable in profile, in addition to having a short life time. On the other hand, if the drying is too slow, fungus and mold can be generated, which will cause the coffee to have defects. For this reason, our Alto Cajamarca Coffee Growers are trained to dry coffee in a range of 20 to 30 days, which allows them to maintain its quality.

In the labeling of our roasted coffee packages we also inform about these methods. As consumers, this information will be useful for us to know in general terms the difference between the two processes: in the washed method, the coffee has clean flavors and less body, and in the natural method, the coffee is more fruity and with more body.

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