What is “Honey Processed” Coffee?

As you probably already know, there are several different methods of processing coffee. In this post we’d like to highlight the “honey process.” The name itself can be a bit misleading as most people will assume that either a flavor of honey is a part of the flavor descriptor or even that honey is used in the process – both of which are not the case. Our friend Grace Mena of Deli Café in Costa Rica helped us better understand the process and what the terminology means.

It came about in Costa Rica, starting with a coffee buyer from Japan in 2003. During a visit, there was a request to prepare the traditional fully washed Costa Rican coffees with the “pulp natural” process, asked by both Illy coffee from Italy and Guataro in Japan. Both of these companies were using large volumes of pulp-natural Brazils in several of their blends. They wanted to expand their purchasing options, so they sought out the potential of Costa Rican coffees by increasing the body and flavor while also reducing the acidity of the traditionally fully washed Costa Rican coffee profile. It was explained that “semi-washed” felt sticky, like the consistency of honey. And so the term was born, because it felt like honey.

Grace continued to explain the three levels of honey processed coffees; Yellow, Red, and Black. The major difference is flavor, which are developed by adjusting the drying times and techniques. Yellow Honey has the fastest drying time of about 8 days, where the coffee receives ample amounts of sunshine, giving the coffee a light yellow color by the time it has reached its proper finished moisture level. Red Honey takes longer to dry, usually developed during cloud cover, often taking about 12 days to finish drying. Black Honey takes the longest, often a little over a week, and is covered by a black plastic tarp while turned on raised African-style beds. Black honey is the most complex, rich in body, flavorful, laborious, and expensive.

Here at The Roasterie we have recently added the Costa Rican La Pastora “Black Honey” to our line of Reserve offerings. This type of coffee takes the longest to process, but it is worth the wait! It is the most flavorful with sweet red fruit in the aroma with hints of strawberries, melon balanced with a pleasant acidity and creamy body.

As with our other Reserve offerings, we only have a limited quantity of the Costa Rican La Pastora “Black Honey” in stock. Order online and take advantage of this unique offering while it lasts!