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Published, Apr 25, 2016

A Guide to Costa Rica's Honey Process.

The honey process is a method particular to Costa Rica. The term ‘honey’ relates to the ‘mucilage’ (sticky substance) on the coffee bean. Unlike traditional ‘fully washed’ coffees, the skin and pulp is removed with mechanical washing, rather than using a roller, allowing the producer to determine the level of mucilage that is removed.


It’s precision processing. The honey colour is governed by the level of mucilage that’s left on the coffee bean prior to drying. The level of mucilage is a determining factor in the sweetness and depth of body of the cup; traditionally, the more mucilage or ‘honey’ left on it, the greater the sweetness and depth.

There are variances in the process between mills but below gives a brief guide to the processes and the character of the cups that they produce.

Black Honey
Mucilage: 0% removed
Drying: Covered and left to ferment with a relatively quick drying time compared to the other honeys
Character: Sweet and full bodied with fruity/pulp depth

Red Honey
Mucilage: 25% removed
Drying: Dried uncovered
Character: Sweet and syrupy

Yellow Honey
Mucilage: 50% removed
Drying: Dried uncovered
Character: Floral, light body, apricot

Golden Honey
Mucilage: 75% removed
Drying: Dried uncovered
Character: Crisp, citrusy

White Honey
Mucilage: 100% removed
Drying: Dried uncovered
Character: Clean, balanced

For us at Origin, this type of skilled processing and the impact it has on the character of the cup is what speciality coffee is all about. That’s why we roast lightly, so we can work with and enhance the characteristics of both the crop and processing.