Semi washed is kind of a compromise between the washed method, in which the skin, pulp and mucilage is scrubbed off before the coffee is dried, and dry or natural processing, in which the beans are dried as a whole the fruit. Pulped natural or honey processing are common equivalent terms of this method. The washed process and the semi washed process are very similar in the first step – the cherry is removed (pulped), but here the similarity ends. Semi washed coffees are dried with the mucilage clinging to the outside of the parchment. Like all variations in processing method, semi washed processing profoundly impacts cup character, which is doubtless the main reason producers, particularly in Central America, have been experimenting with it. When processed properly these coffees have an intense sweetness, heightened mouthfeel and nicely balanced and rounded acidity.
Honey processing comes in many different colors, e.g. red honey, yellow honey, black honey. Essentially they describe how much of the mucilage remains on the bean during drying and therefore influences the color. For red honey a relatively high percentage remains on the bean, which gives the reddish cast. The yellow honey uses allows less mucilage to remain on the bean and they develop a golden color, darker than red honey but lighter than fully washed coffee. Black honey (used in Costa Rica) is similar to red honey but applied only to very sweet cheers from the peak of the harvest.