Washed vs. Natural Process

Whether you’re a novice with specialty coffee or a seasoned pro, it’s always interesting to learn and understand how and why a single origin comes to have it’s unique characteristics. We’re not coy in admitting, it took us some time to understand the intricacies of the processes but once harnessed, investing in specialty becomes that little more purposeful.


Understanding the information on the bag will help you select a coffee for your preferred brewing method and how the respective processing methods will affect your experience through consumption. The two most common processing methods that you will continually come across are natural and washed.

We are taking this back to basics – coffee begins its life as a fruit, much like a plum or cherry. Within each cherry is a bean which needs to take a journey of transformation which enables it to be stored, shipped and roasted. Processing is quintessential, matter surrounding the beans has to be removed and dried to a specified moisture level.


A natural process consists of drying the whole coffee cherry first before the fruit surrounding the bean is removed. Throughout the drying process, the coffee bean maintains contact with its fruit enabling a transfer of organic compounds between differing levels of the coffee cherry. In simplicity – the coffee bean absorbs and adopts some of the taste characteristics of the fruit.

In contrast, a washed coffee has it’s organic matter stripped of the bean within days of the cherry being picked. Once removed, the beans are then washed, removing any remaining sticky mucilage from the bean before drying.


What about the taste? The natural processed coffee will have a heavier body and taste fruitier, the drying coffee bean would have absorbed some of the natural sugars from the surrounding fruit. Washed coffee tends not to hold a heavy fruit flavor, but the mouthfeel will be significantly cleaner, with a clean and bright acidity. More of a stereotypical “coffee” taste.


At Big Dog, we offer both natural and washed coffee from origins across the coffee belt. As the roastery develops, our coffee offerings will continue to diversify, ensuring our customers capture the excellence created though various types of processing.



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