Are Honey Coffees Honey Flavored?
The short answer is no, but this complex process is worthy of a deeper discussion.
Some people get confused thinking that Honey Processed Coffees contain honey or are honey flavored. However, Honey in coffee refers to the mucilage: the golden, sticky sugary substance, reminiscent of honey, that coats the seed under the skin.
Honey Process is a drying method on which the coffee cherry is pulped but not washed before drying. Instead, the bean is dried with the mucilage, which is then removed together with the parchment at the mill after drying.
As the pulped beans dry, the mucilage ferments and oxidizes, neutralizing the acidity and making these coffees naturally sweeter. These coffees tend to fruitier than washed coffees but not as fruit-forward as natural coffees, and their flavors and profiles are complex and unique.
Honey Processed coffees are classified according to the drying time, which is directly related to the amount of mucilage left on the seed before drying. During the drying process, as time goes by and oxidation occurs, the beans transition in color starting with yellow, moving onto red and ending in black. It is from here that the Honey classifications get their name: Yellow Honey, Red Honey and Black Honey.