Where a coffee cup start – Coffee Mills Process, part 2

Processing the coffee cherries in the coffee mills or beneficios as we call it in the Spanish language, involves the critical removal of husk and fruit from the coffee beans and the after is peeled, start drying of the beans to 12% relative humidity.

There are two main processing methods. It is  how much the flavor profile has to do with the characteristics of the growing region, but what can be assured is that all of these factors work in concert to give each coffee their distinct and special qualities.

The Natural Method

The Natural Method This is how our ancestors did a hand craft process, the simplest and oldest method of preparation. Over 60% of the world’s coffees are processed this way, long time ago. Harvested cherries are laid out on brick patios under the hot sun. To ensure even drying and prevent spoilage, they are raked and turned several times a day. They are covered at night or in the event of rain. It takes 2-3 weeks of good, dry weather to thoroughly dry the cherries. Success depends on good weather. This method is not longer use because the wash method, this natural method supposed to be not that good of cup quality, but now it is being used again, because of customer like it this way. For me, coffee is a little bit strong this way but I like it.

The Wash Method

The Washed Method is used where freshwater is abundant, this is what all the coffee mills in El Salvador and Central America use.

There are several variations of the washed method,

  • the old way is the harvested cherries,they are transported from the coffee farm and taken to coffee mill in pickup trucks and they are discharged into specials pools where the process begins, they are run through a pulping machine using water to actually remove and wash away the husk and pulp from the parchment covered coffee beans. These coffee grains, still covered in their silver skin, are sorted by weight via water channels and then by size in rotating drums. The separated grains are placed in large tanks filled with water. Sitting in these tanks for 12 to 15 hours a natural enzyme causes a fermentation process in which the layer of mucilage (parenchyma) attached to the parchment is dissolved,
  • the new way is almost the same but to separate mucilage it is a machine what is use, We no longer use the fermentation process, unless a customer asks for it. They are then dried in much the same way as the Natural Method. In some cases, these beans may be dried in large drying machines that shorten drying time of parchment coffee to 8 to 12 hours, specially when is raining or the humidity is high. When the coffee reaches the 12% relative humidity, the coffee grains are call parchment coffee or cafe pergamino(in Spanish), and this is the way we keep coffee in warehouses until the time to export it comes.

Preparing for Export

Processed coffee is stored at the origin in yute bags until they are ready for export. A combination of modern machinery, hands take coffee through the final processing stages to the hull and sort the coffee beans for the world market. Hulling is done by machines. For dry processed coffees, hulling involves the removal of the entire husk. Afterwards, some beans may be polished to remove any silver skin that remains. This is achieved by Threshing coffee.

The threshing coffee process

The threshing coffee process is one of the most valuable industrial process applied to coffee. It involves remove the husk of each coffee grain, parchment or cherry bean, and turn it in green gold coffee, that is call gold coffee and this the way how coffee is been exported and is ready for roasting, grinding and finally drinking.

This process is important, Why?

Because of affects directly the efficiency and the drink quality.

It is necessary to have the appropriate and well-calibrated equipment, in order to get a perfect removing of husk, and the threshing has another important process: selection and cleaning; this is vital for a guarantee that we don’t have foreign objects and damaged beans, that would affect the final quality of the beverage.

Looking for defects

This is then followed by separation into five or more grades by running the beans through screens with specifically – sized holes. The traditional practice of manual sorting is accomplished with amazing speed and skill, and any flawed or discolored beans are removed before bagging into sacks marked with grade, plantation, and country of origin. The coffee is then ready for its journey to distant coffee cups. At this stage is ready for roasting, griding and drinking.

This is the basics of the coffee process and now you know where a coffee cup start.

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  1. I’ve had a few cups of coffee that have actually been legitimate and they taste amazing. But I still use a drip machine the morning and the caffeine boost helps. Heard a lot of bad things about instant coffee, but gotten so used to it that Folgers taste I just drink in the morning regardless.

    The process of making coffee is pretty fascinating. Enjoyed your article quite a bit. Where’s part 1 though?

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