The majority of the world’s coffee is processed in more or less the same way; the coffee cherries are picked when ripe, de-pulped (the beans are removed from the fruit), fermented or mechanically scrubbed, soaked and washed in large amounts of fresh water, dried, then milled and prepared for export. Wet process coffees are generally described as having more acidity and a bright, clean flavour profile.
In natural or dry process, the beans are either left to dry on the branch or dried intact just after picking, eliminating the washing/soaking stage altogether. This means that the coffee bean is in contact with the fruit in a closed environment for much longer, resulting in that fruitiness permeating the bean and often producing a more intense, sweeter flavour.
Many of our Devil’s Isle coffee blends use natural process beans, and aside from the taste benefits there is an ecological one too. The 35-60 litres of water per pound used in traditional wet processing is conserved, which although only a small percentage of the total water used in coffee growing and harvesting, can in some areas can be a huge drain on scarce water resources. Even more crucially, coffee process wastewater is a significant contaminant which threatens aquatic life and the health of millions of people living in coffee producing areas.
Read more about the environmental impact here.