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Hate the Bitterness of Regular Coffee? Try Brewing a Honey Processed Variety

No cream or sugar needed.


Coffee’s naturally sharp flavor tends to be a taste people either love or hate. Not everyone is a fan of coffee’s bitterness — and while stirring in cream and sugar is a quick fix, those ingredients aren’t the healthiest, especially if you’re looking to reduce your calorie intake this year. Good news: you can sip a smooth-tasting cup of java — without the extra ingredients — by swapping regular coffee for a honey processed variety. If you’re new to this type of coffee, we’re here to give you the scoop on how it’s made, what it tastes like, and where to buy it.

What is honey processed coffee?

First thing’s first: This type of coffee doesn’t contain actual honey. Instead, “honey” refers to a sweet and sticky coating called “mucilage,” which is found on the coffee cherry (the fruit that’s produced from a coffee plant). Honey processing originated in Costa Rica and involves drying the coffee out, while leaving some or all of the mucilage on the seed. By contrast, a washed process is standard for many commercial coffees and requires completely removing the mucilage — increasing its tartness. Varying levels of light exposure during the drying period result in different colored honey processed coffee beans. 

On the Seattle Coffee Works website, co-founder Sebastian Simsch explains the three kinds of beans that honey processing produces:

  • Yellow honey: These coffee beans are exposed to the most light and take about one week to dry.
  • Red honey: These beans are dried for two to three weeks, typically on overcast days or in the shade.
  • Black honey: These beans are dried for at least two weeks. They’re also the most labor-intensive and expensive option for honey processed coffee varieties. 

What does honey processed coffee taste like?

The exact flavor notes for any type of coffee will be listed on the package. But, the mucilage coating on honey processed coffee beans generally gives them a fruity and balanced acidic flavor. So, there’s no need to dilute your brew with artificial sweetener or calorie-filled creamer before enjoying it.

Where can I buy honey processed coffee?

You can ask your local specialty coffee shop if they sell these types of beans or buy them online. Here are three options to try:

  • Honduras Yellow Honey Process Coffee (Buy from, $10): This yellow honey processed coffee boasts flavor notes of caramel, citrus, and cranberry. The coffee is one hundred percent organic and roasted in small batches for a premium-quality taste.
  • Dominican Coffee Red Honey (Buy from, $22.99): If you’re a fan of strawberry and stone fruit, this coffee might be right for you. The red honey processing gives the coffee a sweet and floral flavor that will make you want to pour a second cup.
  • Las Lajas Costa Rica Cumbres del Poas Black Honey Coffee (Buy from, $29.99): With one sip, you’ll taste notes of strawberry and peach jam, fig, and coco in this black honey processed coffee. Plus, the beans are from Costa Rica — the home of honey processing.

Now that you’ve learned about a tasty coffee option for a more balanced brew, it’s important to store your honey processed coffee beans correctly. For help, check out our story on how to keep coffee beans fresh for as long as possible.

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