History of the Washed Process: A Journey Into the Evolution of Coffee

The “washed” process is a crucial aspect of coffee production that has a significant impact on the taste and quality of the final brew. For coffee enthusiasts and connoisseurs, understanding the history behind this process can provide valuable insights into the evolution of coffee cultivation and the techniques used to enhance its flavor. In this feature article, we explore the origins and evolution of the washed process and highlight its importance in the world of coffee.

The Origins

The history of the washed process is rooted in the traditional coffee-growing regions of Ethiopia and Yemen. These regions are considered the birthplaces of coffee, and it is here that the earliest iterations of the washed process originated. The process was developed as a means of improving the quality and flavor of coffee beans, offering a cleaner and more refined cup profile compared to the natural or dry process.

The washed process is believed to have originated in Ethiopia, where coffee has been grown for centuries. The exact timeline of its development is difficult to trace, as coffee production in Ethiopia has a long and rich history spanning thousands of years. However, it is known that the washed process was used in Ethiopia at least as early as the 17th century.

From Ethiopia, knowledge of the washed process gradually spread across the Red Sea to Yemen, which was another important coffee-growing region at the time. Yemeni traders and merchants who had established trade routes with Ethiopia likely brought the techniques of the washed process back to Yemen. The process gained popularity in Yemen for its ability to produce coffees with improved clarity and acidity.

As coffee cultivation spread to other parts of the world, the washed process followed. In the 18th and 19th centuries, coffee production began to flourish in countries such as Brazil, Colombia, and Costa Rica. These regions adopted the washed process, adapting it to local conditions and refining the techniques.

Over the years, advances in technology and the sharing of knowledge among coffee producers have contributed to the continuous improvement of the washed process. Farmers and researchers have experimented with different fermentation times, water sources and drying methods to refine the flavor profiles and quality of washed coffees.

Today, the washed process is widely practiced around the world and is particularly favored in specialty coffee production. It has become a hallmark of quality and is associated with coffees that exhibit vibrant acidity, clarity and a wide range of nuanced flavors. The historic legacy of the washed process continues to shape the coffee industry, influencing the way coffee is processed, appreciated and enjoyed by coffee lovers around the world.

Development and Adoption

As coffee cultivation spread to other regions, such as Latin America and Southeast Asia, the washed process gained recognition for its ability to produce coffees with distinct acidity, clarity and complexity. The process involves several steps, including pulping the cherries to separate the beans, fermenting them in water to remove the remaining fruit residue, and finally drying the beans. This meticulous process requires careful supervision and attention to detail to ensure optimal results.

Throughout history, the washed process has undergone refinements and adaptations as farmers and producers experimented with variations in fermentation times, water quality, and drying techniques. These advancements have contributed to continuous improvements in coffee quality and flavor profiles, making the washed process a cornerstone of specialty coffee production today.

Impact on Taste and Quality

The washed process is known for producing coffees with bright acidity, pronounced clarity and a wide range of nuanced flavors. By removing the influence of the fruit at an early stage, the washed process allows the intrinsic qualities of the coffee beans to shine through, providing a clean and well-defined taste experience. This method is particularly favored for beans with delicate and nuanced flavors, as it allows the beans’ inherent characteristics to be fully expressed.

In addition, the washed process has played a crucial role in promoting consistency and uniformity in coffee production. By carefully controlling fermentation and washing, coffee producers can achieve greater precision in flavor profiles and ensure that each batch of beans meets a specific quality standard.


The history of the washed process is deeply intertwined with the growth and evolution of coffee production. From its origins in Africa to its widespread adoption in coffee-growing regions around the world, this process has revolutionized the way coffee is processed and enjoyed. By understanding the historical context and techniques behind the washed process, coffee enthusiasts can deepen their appreciation for the art and science of coffee cultivation and savor the remarkable flavors that result from this meticulous approach.


Does anyone know the history of the “washed process?”

The history of the washing process in coffee production can be traced back to the traditional coffee-growing regions of Ethiopia and Yemen. It is believed to have originated in Ethiopia and gradually spread to Yemen through trade routes. The washed process was developed as a way to improve the quality and flavor of coffee beans, providing a cleaner and more refined cup profile compared to the natural or dry process. Over time, the washed process gained popularity and was adopted in other coffee-growing regions around the world, leading to advances in techniques and contributing to the production of specialty coffees known for their vibrant acidity and distinct flavors. The washed process is still widely used today and has become an integral part of the history and evolution of the coffee industry.

What is washed method?

The washed process is widely used across Latin America and parts of East Africa and requires both the cherry and mucilage surrounding the parchment to be removed with the use of friction, fermentation and water.

Is washed coffee good?

Washed coffees are prized for their clarity and vibrant notes. Removing all of the cherry prior to drying allows the intrinsic flavors of the bean to shine without anything holding them back. Fruit notes are still found in washed coffees, however, fermented notes and berry notes are less common.

What’s the difference between washed and natural coffee?

In summary, a washed coffee has the fruit stripped off the bean almost immediately and the coffee bean is dried all by its lonesome self. Conversely, natural processed coffees have the coffee cherry dried intact, as one whole item – the coffee bean is surrounded by fruit.

What is washed coffee process?

“Traditionally, a washed coffee has employed water mainly to wash off mucilage after the coffee has been fermented over time with turbulent water. The mucilage comes off and then the coffee is dried.

Are coffee beans washed before roasting?

People wash their coffee beans to remove the chaff. This part doesn’t make a massive effect as roasting removes the chaff. Before dried and packed, coffee beans are already washed, so there’s no need to repeat the same process. Moisture is another reason why people wash the coffee beans before roasting.

How many years does it take for a coffee tree to mature?

approximately 3 to 4 years

Depending on the variety, it will take approximately 3 to 4 years for the newly planted coffee trees to bear fruit. The fruit, called the coffee cherry, turns a bright, deep red when it is ripe and ready to be harvested.

What is honey washed coffee?

Honey process is a method in which coffee cherries are picked and sorted, have their skins and pulps removed like other types of coffee—but are then dried without washing off the sticky-sweet outer layer of the fruit.

What is Lotus washed coffee?

The coffee is picked ripe and pulped and separated in Colombian Penagos machinery, then fermented and washed with careful monitoring for quality.