What Is Dry Processed Coffee?

The simplest and most organic method of processing coffee is called dry process. Unlike the more contemporary method known as wet-processing, little to no water is used, which explains the method is also often called unwashed or natural coffee. The method used to process coffee plays a major role in determining the ultimate flavor of the roast. Ultimately, the dry process is a simple method that requires the coffee bean to bathe in its own flavor unbothered for an extensive period of time to achieve an explosive and distinct flavor.  Most dry processed coffees are sweet and have intense fruity notes.


After the harvested coffee fruit is sorted, it is laid out where it has ample exposure to the sun.  Similar to the process of drying grapes to become raisins, the coffee cherries are left to dry in their original state, allowing them to ferment in all of their natural flavors. The coffee is laid on raised drying beds that allow air to circulate around the fruit.  This is the greatest difference between the dry process and wet process, where the beans are stripped from the cherries before processing. As they dry, they are occasionally raked through and turned over to ensure that they are drying adequately. This straightforward process is completed at extremely low costs, making coffee a great resource for countries that lack the resources to invest in the extensive machine equipment required to facilitate the wet-process Although this process sounds easy, the coffee must be carefully watched over so that they do not over-dry. When this happens to coffee, they become brittle and incapable of making it through the hulling process. They also need to make sure they do not stay too moist as mold can form on the outside of the cherry and that can ruin the entire harvest as well. It takes two to four weeks for coffee to dry to the correct moisture content.  The coffee is then hulled with a machine that removes the thick dried fruit skin with friction burrs.  The coffee is then ready to move to the density sorting table which is basically an unlevel table that vibrates so that less dense coffee moves toward the higher side of the table.  After that, the coffee is again hand sorted for quality.

Coffee drying on raised beds in Ethiopia.

Coffee drying on raised beds in Ethiopia.

Dry-process is most often used in countries with lower humidity where rainfall is infrequent and sunshine is constantly available to dry the coffee properly. This process is most commonly used in Indonesia, Ethiopia and Brazil.

Dry-process of preparing coffee is the oldest and most natural method, still widely used today in many regions. Ultimately, the flavor of the cup of coffee you enjoy daily is determined as much by the processing of the bean as it is by where the fruit is grown. The steps that occur between the growth of coffee fruit and its arrival to your morning mug all play a key role in creating the rich flavor you love – dry processed coffee typically are lower in acidity, have a heavier mouth-feel and more fruited notes. Next time you drink a cup of coffee, try to guess the preparation process used to prepare the blend using signs including the flavor, acidity level and country where the beans were harvested.

Garrett Krugh