Semi-washed processing skips the fermentation step. After being de-pulped, the cherries are soaked for an hour or two, then rubbed together to remove the fruit from the bean. Some of the fruit stays on the bean, adding to the flavor. Next the beans are dried, transported to a milling station and then dried some more. The beans are hulled to remove the parchment and any bits of dried mucilage still stuck to the bean. Finally, the beans are dried yet again.
The semi-washed method is often associated with Indonesian coffees. The partial drying instead of fermentation gives these coffees an herbal and earthy flavor and a full body.
For my processing tasting, I’ll be using Sumatra (always a crowd pleaser) as my semi-washed coffee. Sumatra is an extra bold coffee with an earthy and flavor with a low acidity and full body. Cinnamon, oatmeal, maple, butter, toffee and cheese flavors all complement Sumatra. In my favorite bit of vague descriptive work, Starbucks describes Sumatra as “earthy and unpredictable.”