The coffee bean is a seed of a small fruit grown on Coffea tree. The fruit is commonly called a cherry.
Once ripe, the fruit is removed from the bean by either wet or dry processing.
There are various ways of both processing methods and it is one of the most important influences on the coffee taste.
Wet processing method, sometimes called washed, involves gently removing various layers of the skin layer by layer. Coffees processed by this method tend to be more acidic in taste compared to dry-processed or unwashed coffees.
Dry processed coffees are dried with the fruit around the bean. These coffees tend to be fruitier in taste and heavier in body compared to wet-processed coffees.
Another method of removing the fruit is semidry or pulped natural process. The skin of the fruit is removed immediately after picking, but the flesh of the pulp is allowed to dry on the bean. Once dry, pulp is then removed by machine.
Many other variations of the above processes have been developed. An example includes a wet-process with fermentation, where the fruit pulp is softened by natural fermentation before being washed off the bean.
Furthermore, if clean water is added to the bean during the fermentation process and this procedure is then called wet fermentation. Alternatively, the beans can be left to ferment in their own pulp and this process is called dry fermentation.